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The History of Raymond

Raymond, California looks as it has for over 100 years. Fewer buildings exist due to many fires over time and the main road through town is paved, but a visitor can still get food in the 1890 General Store or have a beverage in the 1891 Shaw Brothers’ General Merchandise store, which is now a bar called the Frontier. Raymond is one of the few towns in the Sierra Nevada established strictly for tourism and not built because of the gold rush.

The original homestead house is open as a museum and can give visitors a glimpse of Raymond’s colorful past. The raised bed for the Southern Pacific Railroad is still visible and visitors can picture the train rolling in twice a day, taking tourists to their stagecoaches for the adventure to Yosemite. Raymond was the terminus for the Southern Pacific Railroad from 1886 until the tracks were pulled up in the 1940s. Besides being the main tourist hub for Yosemite National Park from 1886 until 1907, Raymond was also the main freight and commerce center for the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills. Ranchers, loggers, farmers and merchants all received and shipped their goods through Raymond by rail and wagon.

The Raymond/Knowles granite quarries also used the rail to transport their famous Sierra White granite to San Francisco and all over the United States. The quarry is still producing superior granite today and is open to visitors. Coming to Raymond today, tourists can get an idea of how the earlier travelers to Yosemite National Park felt as they started up the stagecoach road. They can take the same route President Theodore Roosevelt took with John Muir when they came to Raymond from San Francisco and visited Yosemite National Park. That visit convinced Roosevelt that Yosemite National Park had to be preserved forever.

The Raymond Museum

The Raymond Museum sits in the middle of the railroad right of way, in the center of town and houses many relics from Raymond’s rich past. The museum is in the Charles Miller House, the first and oldest house in Raymond. Built for Charles Miller, the first stagecoach agent and Southern Pacific railroad agent for early travel to Yosemite National Park, the house is listed on the California Registry of Historic Places and provides a glimpse into how people lived in the late 1880s. The museum offers information about driving the stagecoach route to Yosemite National Park and walking tours of the town. Visitors can sit on the old board-and-batten home’s porch or in the original kitchen, filled with antique cooking utensils and be transported back in time.

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