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The History Mystery #27

We welcome E. Clampus Vitus as our newest contributing partner in the History Mystery Series. This submission for April is a continuation of a project they have been working on at the bottom of Hensley Lake.

In the 1850’s Major James Savage of the California Militia erected a trading post along the Fresno River at the North West section of what is now Hensley Lake. After he was killed in 1855, his friend Dr. Lewis Leach erected a monument to his memory at the trading post.

About 1870, William Linnebecker constructed a store about 100 feet from the old Savage post. This was known for years as the China Store and several photographs of fairly recent vintage show both the store and monument. From those photos, it appears the store was of adobe construction.

When the area was dammed in the late 1960 – 1971 era, the Savage monument was moved to a location along Road 400, and subsequently moved to Buck Ridge in the Hensley Recreation Area. A resolution from the Fresno County Board of Supervisors (at one time the area was part of Fresno County) recommended and supported the moving of the old China /Linnebecker store along with the monument. No documentation can be found to tell us what actually happened to the store.

Recently Grub Gulch Chapter located the site and photographed what we believe are the footings of the store. Was it dismantled, or moved, or did it dissolve away when the lake was formed? Does anybody have information that can help us?

– Submitted by Steve Varner, Historian, E. Clampus Vitus Grub Gulch Chapter 41-49.

E. Clampus Vitus combines a dedication to preserving western and mining history with a never-ending quest for fun. We have erected hundreds of historical markers and plaques to commemorate sites, people and events that played a role in our western heritage, but might otherwise be lost or forgotten. For more information about E. Clampus Vitus go to our website at: http://www.eclampusvitus.com/History Mystery 27 - photo E Clampus Vitus

Follow-Up from last month’s History Mystery:

We had several great responses about the bridge in the photographs! Folks recognized the area as Road 800, the road to Bailey Flat, and the bridge is across the Chowchilla River. It was built in the 1920s and then replaced by what was called the Rainbow Bridge, a wooden arch shaped bridge, and then that was replaced again by a concrete flat top bridge that is used today. Thank you to all, especially Al Philp, for helping us solve our History Mystery!!

Lynn Northrup
Raymond Museum

One comment

  1. As I have watched for the past 35 years, the New Melones Reservoir, it more than likely dissolved, because it was Adobe. I’ve seen the Melones Reservoir when the river was back in its creek and the old building that were flooded by the original Melones Reservoir that were made of “brick” were still there while I was told by residence that several old Adobes were now gone because they dissolved.

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