The Golden Quack

California Adventures

With David Backman

January 2012

Being a bicoastal Duck, NOT ends up spending a lot of time on the west coast with Dave in California. Being there he gets to have chances to explore the various parts and sites that the state has to offer. Early in 2012 he had a chance to explore some of region with Dave.

Out in the eastern part of the state lies towns established during the California Gold Rush. One of these towns was Centreville, established in 1851 and renamed Grass Valley the next year. Two major mines in the state are located there. Nowadays the city’s economy is based upon tourism and its history as it is upon mining.

Josiah Royce Marker

Objective Idealist Philosopher Josiah Royce was born in Grass Valley and studied at the University of California, Berkeley before heading east and being awarded one of Johns Hopkins University’s first four doctorates. The town’s public library, a registered historical landmark is named in his honor.

Heading west in the gold rush led people into new and untamed wilderness and newly minted “towns.” These visitors needed, among other things, places to stay. When Grass Valley was established in 1851 one of these places to stay was established. The Holbrooke Hotel has the distinction of being the oldest hotel that has been in continual use. Plaques outside the hotel tell its story:

“Holbrooke Hotel Founded 1851 California’s oldest hotel in continual operation. Among its century-old archives are names of such notables as Presidents Grant, Harrison, Cleveland; Authors Mark Twain, Bret Harte; Boxers Corbett, Fitzsimmons, Actor Gilbert Barry and Highwayman Black Bart. Present structure built in 1862 following infamous fire. Grass Valley – September 25, 1965”

Holbrooke Hotel Marker

The California State Historic Marker states:
“The Holbrooke Hotel The present bar of the hotel has been in continuous operation since 1852, when it was known as the Golden Gate Saloon. The wooden building had a rear extension called the Exchange Hotel and offered food and lodging by January 1853. The saloon was destroyed in the fire of 1855 and rebuilt out of fieldstone with a brick front. The Holbrooke, built 1862 had the adjacent Golden Gate Saloon incorporated into the hotel building. “

Holbrooke Hotel California Marker

While Grass Valley focused on what came out of the earth, in the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, the focus is more on what is outside the earth. Among the items on display is a decidedly out of this world artifact: a moon rock brought back by Apollo 15 astronauts in 1971. One of over 2,400 samples collected and distributed worldwide, it represents the ultimate mining operation (though picking up the rocks from the surface sure beats digging and blasting into the planet).

Moon Rock

San Francisco, despite fire, earthquake and urban renewal boasts a wide diversity of architecture styles, including a large collection of Victorian era buildings. An well known example of this architecture is found on Alamo Square. The William Westerfeld House was built in 1889 and has gone through a long and varied existence. Originally built by William Westerfeld, a successful owner of a chain of bakeries, the 28 room mansion happily housed the family of six. After Westerfeld’s death, the mansion served a variety of roles in the city including: a nightclub and meeting area, apartments mostly rented to African-American jazz musicians who played in local clubs, a collective home, musician home during the late 60’s, and again as a private residence. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. NOT was disappointed when he found out the gingerbread trim was not edible.

Westerfeld House

NOT doesn’t mind being a very small duck, generally because it allows him to travel more freely and have his adventures. Sometimes it is nice, though, to run into things that are also small like him. at the Conservatory of Flowers he ran across something that can be as prickly as he is – in this case a miniature pineapple.




North American Travel

United States Travel

California Travel

Photos courtesy of David Backman

Last Updated May 2012