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Image of the train depot at Raymond, CA.
Train depot at Raymond, CA

History Mystery 98: The Case of the Raymond Rail Yard

E Clampus Vitus Grub Gulch Chapter 41-49 is working with the Raymond Museum to determine the actual locations of the structures and facilities in the SP Raymond Branch rail yard in Raymond. We have some photos and some drawings, but we are in need of more information.

Many of the photos we have were taken with fisheye lenses, which distort the location of objects in the photos. For example, we think we have the exact location for Bowen’s Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt made a speech in May of 1903, on his way to Yosemite. But, we would love a better photo of Bowen’s, and/or the area around it, to be absolutely sure that we have the location correct. Other structures we wish to locate are the Raymond Depot, the large passenger car shed, the water tank, the pump house, and a couple of mystery structures that appear in some photos, but not in others. We have rough locations for all of these structures, but period photos would help.

Photos of other Raymond buildings would also be a huge help to us. In some cases it is possible to extrapolate where rail structures were located in relation to other buildings in town. For example, Dapello’s gas station was nearly across the street from the depot. If we had a photo of Dapello’s from their side of the street, it would show us the depot and (we think) Bowen’s Hotel. Even a photo taken from the General Store looking at the rail yard would be a huge help to us.

Our goal is to locate all the rail related structures, and Bowen’s Hotel, label them, and then make a path that visitors can utilize to walk to the various locations, and to the Teddy Roosevelt in Raymond monument that will be constructed later this year.

Follow-Up to History Mystery #97

We thank all the people who offered comments to help us gain a better understanding of the Chinchilla industry in the Sierra foothills. There were approximately 35 to 40 Chinchilla ranches during the peak period. The earliest local chinchilla ranching was around 1950. It was called the Yosemite Fur Farm of Oakhurst. The first annual Chinchilla show sponsored by the Sierra Chinchilla Fur Producers, was held in Oakhurst on February 26 and 27, 1966. Breeders from as far away as England were on hand to participate.

Sullivan Fur Dressing, which processed most of the pelts produced in the mountain area, and The Chinchilla Journal which published local and industry wide information, were two of the businesses that supported the chinchilla ranching industry. A few of the ranchers were: Herb & Rowena Kratzer, Paul Peters, ‘Devvy’ and Mary Williams, Tony Alves, and Bud Roberts. There were many more that produced quality furs.

For one brief shining moment the mountain area Chinchilla fur ranches produced the largest number of high-quality breeder animals and pelts in the world. A brief claim to fame… The Chinchilla Capital of the World.

Several comments told us the sign is about half-way up road 425B, located at the Tony Alves ranch. The Sierra Star archived editions contain a lot of information on the industry during its run in the mountains. The growing backlash against fur, of any kind, was the beginning of the end of the Chinchilla farms here and abroad.

Andy Brooks
Raymond Museum

 

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