Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues

Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues


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The Sierra Nevada, with its 14,000-foot granite mountains, crystalline lakes, conifer forests, and hidden valleys, has long been the domain of dreams, attracting the heroic and the delusional, the best of humanity and the worst. Stories abound, and characters emerge so outlandish and outrageous that they have to be real. Could the human imagination have invented someone like Eliza Gilbert? Born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1818, she transformed herself into Lola Montez, born in Seville, Spain, in 1823, and brought to the Gold Country the provocative “Spider Dance”—impersonating a young woman repelling a legion of angry spiders under her petticoats. Or Otto Esche, who in 1860 imported fifteen two-humped Bactrian camels from Asia to transport goods to the mines. Or the artist Albert Bierstadt, whose paintings Mark Twain characterized as having “more the atmosphere of Kingdom-Come than of California.” Or multimillionaire George Whittell Jr., who was frequently spotted driving around Lake Tahoe in a luxurious convertible with his pet lion in the front seat. These, and scores more, spill out of the pages of this well-illustrated and lively tribute to the Sierra by a native son.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597142656
Publisher: Heyday
Publication date: 03/01/2014
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 791,988
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

A Sierra Nevada native and current resident, Gary Noy taught history at Sierra College from 1987 until 2012. He founded the Sierra College Center for Sierra Nevada Studies and served as its director until his retirement. His previous titles include Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues (Heyday, 2014), which won the Gold Medal for Best Regional Nonfiction from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, The Illuminated Landscape: A Sierra Nevada Anthology (Heyday, 2010), which he coedited, and Distant Horizon: Documents from the 19th Century American West (University of Nebraska Press, 1999).

Table of Contents

Foreword Malcolm Margolin xiii

Preface xix

The Swan of Erin: The Enduring Legacy of Kale Hayes 1

Sierra Spotlight: Jenny Lind 7

Three Months Alone: The Ordeal of Moses Schallenberger 9

Sierra Spotlight: The Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party 14

A Broad, Hard-Beaten Road: Melissa Coray and the Mormon Battalion 17

Siena Spotlight: George Stoneman 22

More Beautiful than the Original Albert Bierstadt 25

Siena Spotlight: William Keith 29

Fearful Symmetry: Native Americans in Early California 31

Siena Spotlight: Judith Lowry 36

Solid Gold Fishhooks: The Gold Lake Excitement of 1850 39

Sierra Spotlight: E Clampus Vitus 43

The Spider Dancer: Lola Montez 45

Sierra Spotlight: Adah Isaacs Menken 51

The Eternal Child: Lotia Crabtree 53

Sierra Spotlight: Kate and Ellen Bateman 59

Sacagawea's Son: The Adventures of Pompy 61

Sierra Spotlight: Joseph B. Starkweather 64

Just to Prove a Point: Fall of the Forest Monarchs 67

Sierra Spotlight: The General Noble Tree 72

The Ultimate Thrill: The Great Flume Ride of 1875 75

Sieira Spotlight: The Incline 80

Twenty-Three Miles in Seven Days: The 1911 Tahoe Tavern Automobile Race 83

Siena Spotlight: Alice Huyler Ramsey 86

Curious Caravan: Edward Fitzgerald Beale and the Camel Corps 89

Sierra Spotlight: Otto Esche's Camel Express 93

The Forgotten Visionary: Theodore Judah 95

Sierra Spotlight: The Bloomer Cut 99

Halfway To The Stars: Andrew Hallidie 101

Siena Spotlight: The Emerald Bay Bridge 104

Hidden History: African Americans in the Sierra Nevada 107

Sierra Spotlight: Charles Young and the Buffalo Soldiers 110

Dawn and Darkness: Gold Mountain and the Chinese 113

Sierra Spotlight: Yee Fung Cheung and the Chew Kee Store 121

Instruments of Darkness: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 123

Sierra Spotlight: The Truckee Method 125

Power Couple: The Sargents 31

Serra Spotlight Aaron A. Sargent and the Chinese Exclusion Act 36

Photographic Memory Eadweard Muybridge 139

Siena Spotlight Carleton Watkins 42

The Unknown Architect John Conness 45

Sierra Spotlight Galen Clark 47

Glorious Starry Firmament for a Roof: Pioneering Yosemite Rock Climbers 49

Sierra Spotlight: A. Phimister Proctor 152

The First Light of Evening: The Folsom Powerhouse 155

Sieira Spotlight: French Corral and the Telephone 158

Magnificent Scoundrel Lucky Baldwin 161

Siena Spotlight: The Stale Line Country Club 164

Mingo, Bill, and the Captain: George Whittell, Jr., and the Thunderbird Lodge 167

Siena Spotlight: Vikingsholm 172

The Phantom Fountain Thomas Hill 175

Siena Spotlight: Thomas Moran 179

The Little Tramp in Truckee: Charlie Chaplin and The Gold Rush 181

Siena Spotlight: Greed 184

Reel-Life Experience: Railtown and the Alabama Hills 187

Sierra Spotlight: The Sierra Nevada as Somewhere Else 190

Soul-Consoling Tower Manzanar 193

Siena Spotlight: The 442nd Regimental Combat Team 198

Behold The Wandering Moon: The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony 201

Sierra Spotlight: Burnette Haskell and the Kaweah Colony 205

Stoveleg Pitons and Cheap Red Wine: Warren Harding and El Capitan 207

Siena Spotlight: Alex Honnold 210

Like a Rollercoaster, Only Rougher: The Tioga L'ass Road 213

Sierra Spotlight: The Snowshed Highway 217

Selected Bibliography 219

Acknowledgments 227

About the Author 231

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