COARSEGOLD — The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus (ECV), otherwise known as the Clampers, is working hard on another monument to the history of the west – this time in the community of Yosemite Lakes Park.
While the Clampers are always open to some good old fashioned merry-making, they do have a very important mission – the promotion and preservation of western history.
Right now they are finishing up a monument on the Zebra Stage Stop, up at the end of Long Hollow Court North in YLP. This was the third stop after leaving the Mace Hotel in Madera; the Adobe Ranch and Bates Station being the first two, says ECV historian Steve Varner.
The stop was known as Daulton Springs, Greens Ranch, and later Zebra, after the mine nearby, says Varner. From there the route continued northerly to the Peach Orchard and eventually into Coarsegold.
“This was a project that I have wanted to do for several years,” says Varner, who originally looked at incorporating the Rival Ranch, The Lillie Ranch (both names wrongly misspelled today, he says) and the Zebra Mine into one plaque. When that proved too complicated, Varner brought the idea to the Clampers and then presented the Stage Stop monument project to the Yosemite Lakes Owners Association (YLOA) in June.
Once it was verified that the site was on YLOA property, the Clampers obtained their permission to construct the monument. There was no cost to YLOA other than time and water, and ECV, as usual, picked up the tab for material and labor.
The Yosemite Springs Public Utilities Company – owned by the YLOA – was out on scene for every one of the Clampers’ work days, says Varner.
“There was always an employee to open the gate to the water tank so we could hook up our water hose and run it 100 feet down the hill to the site. The YLOA General Manager Layton Gillette provided much logistical support and actually discovered that the original place we were going to put the monument was not YLOA land, and he located a spot about 75 feet away that proved much easier to work with – and looked better.”
The monument is the same basic design and construction as the dozens of others now marking sites of historical significance all across the Motherlode. A concrete block spine is covered with rock, with a granite plaque mounted in the middle. This one will be similar to the one dedicated in North Fork last year, except that the plaque will have a granite “frame” around it.
“The great people at the Ryan Ranch in Hildreth [a site dedicated in October 2014] donated about 500 pounds of quartz tailings from the mines out there, and we obtained some cut granite that we believe came from the Railroad facility in Raymond, which we used to frame the plaque,” says Varner.
Oakhurst Rocks again gave them a great price on 1,000 pounds of rock, and Cornerstone Granite in Raymond trimmed a piece of granite that was donated by one of the Clampers.
“Our friends at Gateway Memorial in Merced engraved the plaque,” says Varner.
ECV has been working on the monument and will dedicate it during their Fall Doin’s initiation on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 11 a.m.
A bit of history of the site provided by Steve Varner:
An 1880 diary of Matilda Gilmore Brown taken from the Madera County Historian, Madera County Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. I Number 3, July 1961, documented a stage trip taken June 21, 1880.
The Stage left Madera (Mace’s Hotel using the Yosemite Stage and Turnpike Company, same publication but documenting a Jane Brown’s trip in 1882) then ran to Stitts Adobe Ranch off of Road 400 (south of Hensley Lake) and then to Wards Place later called Bates Station, then ran northerly, roughly west of Highway 41 on Road 207, which today is only partially intact, and roughly behind the Blackhawk Lodge.
It then cut over to George Green’s Ranch which was the third station. This was also known as Dustin’s Station, Daulton Springs and Zebra Ranch for the Zebra mine located nearby. A Daulton from the Daulton Ranch married a Rivas woman, and Daulton Springs was a wedding gift to the couple from the Rivas family.
The home site is where a YLP water tank now stands, along with the traditional stage stop palm tree. This is on a short dirt road running northeast off the end of Long Hollow Court North. The site is about midway between the palm tree and the water tank.
I believe the stage company was in business from 1879 through 1886.
To learn more about the Clampers and the important work they do documenting and preserving the history of our area, visit http://eclampusvitus.com. You’ll find plenty of information on the nearly five dozen monuments they have created, from Grub Gulch to Fresno Flats; Jones Store to the Little Church on the Hill; Sierra Sky Ranch, the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad and the Raymond Museum.