NOTE: Compiled by Debby Carter from the archives of Fresno Flats Research Library and the Sierra Star.
50 years ago
☆ “Old No. 10,” an historic Shay engine used at the start of the 20th Century in logging operations, has been put back together and is ready to start running on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. Rudy Stauffer of the Swiss Melody Inn says restoration of three miles of rail to be used for the train will be underway next week. The tracks will follow an old roadbed used by the Madera-Sugar Pine Lumber Company.
☆ More than 3,000 spectators cheered top lumberjacks in tight competition that ended in ties for first, second, and third places in the eighth annual Mid-Sierra Logging Jamboree at North Fork. Dyke Fink and Gibson Alex tied for All-Around Champion Logger. Herb Punkin and Gibson Hunter ended even-Steven for second, and Duck Dick and Dale Tex broke even and came in third in the 12 events.
☆ The California Highway Commission has adopted a revised routing for Highway 49 north of the Madera-Mariposa County line. The new routing would provide better access to Harris Road. Although the amended route would be for two lanes, the revision would allow for four lanes in the future. (This action was taken in preparation for construction of the new bridge over the Chowchilla River, a project that was not completed until 1971).
☆ The Ahwahnee Store advertises two pounds of coffee for $1.49.
40 years ago
☆ Plans have been revealed for a major shopping center to be built at the corner of Highways 49 and 41. Construction could begin as early as October. To be called Golden Oak Village, the complex will include a bank, a family restaurant, and 26,000 square feet of market. Some 40 commercial shops could be included in the center. Developers are Ed and Sara Wilkins of Coarsegold.
☆ The Golden Chain Theatre marks its 10th anniversary with the production of Little Orphan Angela, a melodrama. Charles Randall, production director, says the Golden Chain is trying to accomplish a “frank and entertaining theatre” at which the audience will have a good time.
☆ Thanks to Bob Box, who moved to Ahwahnee in 1973 and taught the locals his skills in gold panning, Ahwahnee gold-panners are considered among the best in the world, and are expected to walk away with a majority of the trophies at the Ahwahnee Gold Rush Days celebration. Scheduled to pan are local residents Effie Caywood, Alan Jines, Dick Huber, Lance Murray (this year’s national champion), and Carolyn and Bob Box. The contestants will start with equal amounts of gold and sand in their pans, then wash out all of the sand, leaving only the gold, in as little time as possible. “It used to be that 30 seconds was a fast time, but now it’s down in the teens,” says Bob Box. The Gold Rush celebration will begin with a parade from the Hitching Post to the VFW Hall, where the gold panning will be held. More than 1,500 are expected to attend.
30 years ago
☆ A special report by Kiplinger’s California Newsletter has forecast that Madera County will experience “moderate” growth during the balance of the 20th Century. Population at the end of the century is expected to reach 106,200, compared to the current level of 79,600. The major change projected is that the middle age group will increase, while the older and younger groups will drop.
☆ Congressman Richard Lehman announced that language which should prevent locating the new Oakhurst Post Office on Highway 41 has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Planning to relocate the Oakhurst branch to a larger facility, the post office department had selected a Highway 41 site on the north edge of the community. The bill urges the agency to “reconsider” this site, with attention to the traffic and other problems that would arise from placing the facility on the highway. Considerable personal and business opposition had arisen to this site.
☆ A homesteader’s log barn has been preserved for posterity at Oakhurst’s Fresno Flats Historical Park. The barn was built in 1915 by Barbara and August Dupzyk, when they first homesteaded on land now occupied by Peter Pierre, owner of the Llama Ranch. Pierre donated the historic building to the museum complex. Volunteers from Sierra Telephone disassembled the structure piece by piece, and reassembled it at the park.
☆ Cromwell’s Market in downtown Oakhurst advertises tri-tip roasts for $1.99 per pound, and watermelon for 10 cents per pound.
20 years ago
☆ Supervisors from both Madera and Mariposa counties held a gathering with gateway community members concerned about the relationship between the towns and Yosemite National Park. The meeting was co-hosted by Madera County Supervisor Harry Baker and Mariposa County Supervisor Bob Pickard. Although invited, no National Park Service (NPS) representatives attended. The subject of greatest concern was the day-use concept, which the NPS says is needed to limit the number of cars coming into, and parking, in Yosemite Valley. Lack of cooperation - and listening to gateway communities residents and business people - by the NPS brought some steady pounding from the audience. “A very dictatorial” approach is how Ahwahnee’s Larry Ballew views the NPS. After much discussion, the supervisors agreed to call for a joint resolution from both boards to request a summit-type meeting with the NPS that would hopefully lead to giving the gateway communities a seat at the park planning table.
☆ Yosemite High School softball jersey No. 4 has been retired. The jersey has been worn by pitcher Kati Franck for the past four years and has been retired in her honor. Kati posted an 80-12 win-loss record on the mound for YHS. Her career record for strike-outs was 785 and her earned-run average was 0.43. She holds the record for the most strikeouts in a seven-inning game (20). Kati’s outstanding record at YHS helped her earn a full-ride scholarship to California State University at Fullerton. Kati is the daughter of Dan and Pam Franck of Coarsegold.
☆ After 10 months of planning and preliminary preparations, Yosemite High School students began last week to sketch the basic outlines of the “Road 426 wall mural” on the retaining wall on the curve near the Oakhurst Community Church. The mural theme is “Seasons of Life,” and the heart of the drawing will be an oak tree, symbolizing the tree of life. The physical look of the mural started with collage boards where the students cut out magazine pictures or drew pictures of their own to give the mural its feel, color, and style. Then, using the collage boards and descriptions, Jane Gyer, well-known local artist, created a drawing with “one specific look.” Maggie Elliot, producer of the project, hopes they will have it finished “before the rain starts.”