I will first be sharing some comments that came about as a result of places and topics featured in the last post, and these will be a good lead-in to new material I received from you all.
KH sent me some information, stemming from her travels around the British Isles, about funicular railways.
One funicular she visited was the one in Aberystwyth in Wales, which was said to have opened on August 1st of 1896.
It is known at the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway, and is the longest electric funicular in the British Isles, at 778-feet, or 237-meters-long…
…and the second-longest funicular there after the water-powered Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway in North Devon, which is the highest and steepest water-powered funicular in the world, at 862-feet, or 263-meters, -long, said to have been built between 1887 and its opening in 1890.
KH said Aberystwyth was touted as the Biarritz of Wales in Victorian times, which she said is kind of funny, since it is always raining due to the prevailing winds which come in from across the Irish Sea, dumping their load on Aberystwyth, the first landfall.
Biarritz on the coast of northwestern France has been a luxurious seaside tourist destination, since Victorian times as well.
KH said that like the Cloudland Ballroom and Dance Hall in Brisbane, Australia, there was a favored entertainment venue in Aberystwyth, called Kings Hall, for concerts and dances.
It had a great floor on which to dance, said to have been built in the Art Deco Architecture style in 1934 (which would have been between World War I and World War II).
Major band concerts were also held there, like Led Zeppelin in January of 1973 during their Strange Affinity British Tour in 1972 and 1973.
The King’s Hall was demolished in 1989, for the given reason of apparent structural weaknesses and disrepair…
…and it was replaced where it stood on the corner of Marine Terrace and Terrace Road by the King’s Hall residential flats and commercial units.
There were several comments in response to the subject of Ebbetts Pass in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains featured in the last post.
SB lived in the Sierra Nevada’s in the heart of Gold Rush country for years, and said those rock walls are absolutely everywhere in the forest.
I found these examples of stone walls in California’s Yuba River Country, which extends from the High Country of Sierra and Nevada County to the Feather River between Maryville and Yuba City.
California’s historic mother-lode country, or gold rush belt was a region in northern California, on the western slope of the Sierra Nevadas.
Also known as the Golden Chain, it is approximately 150-miles, or 240-kilometers, long, and a few-miles-wide, and traversed by historic Highway 49.
Here are some sites I found in a search along historic Highway 49, like Oakhurst, a community that is 14-miles, or 23-kilometers, south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park…
…and the old Butte Store in Amador County, said to have been built in 1857 by an Italian stonemason to serve settlers and miners as a general store and post office, and a reminder of Butte City, a once-vibrant mining community that was settled at the height of the Gold Rush era, and abandoned in the early 1900s as the mines closed and settlers relocated.
It looks suspiciously like a partially-buried structure to me!
The Gold Rush Country was famed for mineral deposits and gold mines said to have attracted waves of immigrants starting in 1849, known to history as 49ers, pictured on the left.
Interesting to note the similarity between the gold mine entrance in California land the example of a cave that was dug into the side of a hill during the Siege of Vicksburg on the right, where people could get out of harm’s way from the hail of iron that was coming their way from Union forces.
We are told that California’s gold rush was sparked by James Marshall’s discovery in 1848 of placer gold at Sutter’s Mill near Coloma.
A rock wall sign at Sutter Mill on the left looks very similar to the photo taken by JM, at the end of the last video, of the smaller-sized stones that were pushed up next to some trees in Ebbets Pass on the right.
Also, interesting to note that I found this book about California’s masonic roots the Gold Rush country when I was doing a search of images.
ASV left a comment for me to look into what’s in and around Mono and Inyo Counties, which are right next to each other, and is located east of the Sierra Nevada Range, between Yosemite National Park and Nevada.
First, I will look at Mono County.
Mono County’s only incorporated town is Mammoth Lakes…
…which is known for its ski resorts, which includes Mammoth Mountain, California’s top skiing destination, and location for official ski and snowboard training as well as competitive events.
A noteworthy place near Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Lakes is the Devil’s Postpile National Monument, though it is across the county-line in Madera County.
Devil’s Postpile is described as an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt.
Once part of Yosemite National Park, which was established on October 1st of 1890, it was left on adjacent public land after gold was discovered near Mammoth Lakes in 1905, and saved by influential Californians, including John Muir, from being blasted into the San Joaquin River, which was in a proposal to build a hydroelectric dam.
The trail at the top of the Devil’s Postpile is pictured on the left, and on the right is a hexagonal tile floor pattern for comparison of appearance.
There are two other places I would like to bring up here for comparison purposes.
One is the Devil’s Tower National Monument in eastern Wyoming, which is described as a “laccolith,” or igneous intrusion, but which is very similar in appearance to the Devil’s Postpile in California.
Another similar-looking place is the Giant’s Causeway on the north coast of northern Ireland, described as an area of approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, said to have been the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.
The tops of the basalt columns form stepping stones that lead into the sea.
Back to Mono County.
While Bridgeport is the Mono County seat, in 2010, its population was 575, and has the status of Census-Designated Place, or CDP, meaning it is a place that has a concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes only.
Bridgeport is visited by thousands of tourists every year, in particular those who seek to fish for trout in its surrounding streams and lakes.
The Mono County Courthouse in Bridgeport is on the National Register of History Places, and was said to have been built in the Italianate-style in 1880…
…and designed by architect J. R. Roberts, about whom I can’t seem to find any biographical information in a search, except for his name as the architect of this courthouse.
Mono Lake is located about half-way between Bridgeport and Mammoth Lakes in Mono County.
It is a saline soda lake and is in a geologically-active area at the north end of the Mono-Inyo Craters volcanic chain.
Mono Lake has many towers of limestone, called Tufa, which rise above, and around, the surface of Mono Lake.
Limestone has been a common building material throughout the ages.
The different types of Mono Lake tufa were categorized in the 1880s by mineralogist Edward S. Dana…
…and geologist Israel C. Russell.
Were they narrative shapers, I wonder?
Inyo County is located right below Mono County.
ASV, who suggested I look at the eastern Sierra Nevadas, said “My family and I saw a plane disappear into mountains right next to our car on the freeway to Mt Whitney.”
Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, with an elevation of 14,505-feet or 4,421-meters, and is on the boundary between Inyo and Tulare Counties.
ASV said on the way there were homes with piles of large stones in what could literally be the back yard of the home.
ASV also wondered about some of the towns in Inyo County, like Lone Pine.
Lone Pine is located in the Owens Valley…
…near the Alabama Hills…
…and Mount Whitney.
Interesting to note Mount Whitney in alignment with the full moon in this photo.
Here are a few tidbits about Lone Pine.
A settlement started after a log cabin was built there during the winter of 1861 and 1862, and a post office opened there in 1870.
In March of 1872, a violent earthquake, said to have been one of the largest ever recorded…
… destroyed most of the town…
…killed somewhere around 25 – 27 people (the number keeps varying from reference to reference), who were said to have been buried in a mass grave north of town at the location of the site of the main earthquake fault…
…and formed Diaz Lake.
But one of the worst recorded earthquakes in history didn’t keep the Carson and Colorado railroad from coming through here in 1883…
…or from Lone Pine becoming a frequently used setting for the Western movie genre, starting with the making of the silent film “The Round-up” here in 1920, and subsequently becoming the filming location of hundreds of movies, TV shows, and commercials.
One more thing about Lone Pine before I move on.
There was one of ten Japanese internment camps during World War II, called Manzanar, located 7-miles, or 11-kilometers, set-up north of Lone Pine, after President Franklin Roosevelt signed an Executive Order requiring people of Japanese ancestry living along the Pacific Coast to be placed in what were called “relocation” camps.
The last thing I want to mention about Inyo County and the eastern Sierra Nevadas is that contains the California-side of Death Valley National Park, which straddles the border of California and Nevada.
It is the largest national park in the contiguous United States, with four larger national parks being in Alaska.
Death Valley National Park is in the zone between the Great Basin Desert and the Mojave Desert…
…and has both the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at Badwater Basin…
…and is the hottest place on Earth, and the driest place in North America.
Furnace Creek in Death Valley holds the record of having the highest-recorded air temperature of 134-degrees-Fahrenheit, or 56.7-degrees-Celsius, on July 10th of 1913, and the highest-recorded ground temperature of 201-degrees-Fahrenheit, or 93.9-degrees Celsius on July 15th of 1972.
Furnace Creek is also the location of the headquarters of Death Valley National Park.
Furnace Creek was also the center of operations starting in 1890 for the Pacific Coast Borax Company and its 20-mule teams hauling wagon trains of borax across the Mojave Desert.
Furnace Creek, the hottest place on Earth, even has a luxury resort.
Today known as The Inn at Death Valley, it was formerly known as The Furnace Creek Inn, and said to have been constructed by the Pacific Coast Borax Company and opened on February 1st of 1927, and operated for decades by the Fred Harvey Company, known for its “Harvey Houses” and other hospitality industry businesses alongside railroads in the western United States.
The reason given for this was the President of the Pacific Coast Borax Company, Richard C. Baker, wanted to open Death Valley to tourism, and at the same time, increase the revenue of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad that was said to have been built originally by Francis Marion Smith for the purpose of shipping borax.
There’s so much more here to look for, but there is one more place here that I would like to take a look at: Darwin Falls.
Apparently even the driest place in the North America has waterfalls, located on the west side of Death Valley National Park near Panamint Springs, where there are upper and lower waterfalls.
Darwin Falls, and several other Darwins in the area, was named for a physician named Dr. Erasmus Darwin French, who lived between 1822 and 1902, and was called “an American man of adventure” born in New York State, and not named after Charles Darwin, the famed English naturalist.
Though it is interesting to note that Charles Darwin’s grandfather was named Erasmus Darwin, who lived between 1731 and 1802.
The last place I want to look at in Death Valley is Scotty’s Castle, described as a two-story Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial-style Revival villa in northern Death Valley in the Grapevine Mountains.
Named for gold prospector Walter E. Scott, the story goes that Scott convinced a Chicago millionaire by the name of Albert Mussey Johnson to invest in Scott’s gold mine in Death Valley.
When the gold mine turned out to be fraudulent, instead of staying angry at Scott, Johnson continued a friendship with him, and Johnson and his wife ended up buying around 1,500-acres in Grapevine Canyon, and proceeded with the construction of a ranch there starting in 1927.
Long story short, for a variety of reasons, including the stock market crash of 1929, the ranch was never completed, and the National Park Service bought the property from Johnson’s Gospel Foundation, and turned it into a tourist attraction.
Scotty’s Castle includes such amenities as a 1,121-pipe Welte Theater Organ, which was the type of organ used in movie theaters to accompany the earlier silent films…
…and one-quarter-mile, or .4-kilometers, of tunnels underneath the building, where there is a Grapevine Canyon springwater-powered Pelton-wheel for electricity-generation…
…and an array of Edison’s nickel alkaline batteries for electricity storage…
…and the tunnels were also where the imported Spanish tiles were stored…
…for the pool that wasn’t finished when we are told the construction of the villa stopped in 1929.
Scotty’s Castle has been closed to the public since 2015 after it sustained severe flood damage.
Since I am already in California, I am going to look at a few of the California locations that were suggested by viewers.
MM suggested looking at Hearst Castle, saying I know there’s a bunch of photographs depicting the construction of the Hearst castle…
…but said the more I think about it the more I feel this was an old building that they added to, and maybe interesting to look into.
George Hearst purchased the land in San Simeon, California, in 1865.
George was an American businessman and politician, who founded and developed mining operations, like the Homestake Mine in the 1870s, in the Black Hills in Lead, South Dakota, which was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America until it closed in 2002.
So, here’s the story we are told behind the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.
George’s son, William Randolph Hearst the publishing tycoon, and his architect, Julia Morgan, conceived what became the Hearst Castle, which was said to have been built starting in 1919, when William Randolph inherited somewhere around $10-million after the death of his mother, Phoebe.
The Hearst Castle was under almost continual construction from 1920 and 1939, and during that time there was apparently enough of it constructed for William Randolph Hearst to lavishly entertain the entertainment and political luminaries of the time with many different forms of entertainment, sports, views, and what was called “the most sumptuous swimming pool on Earth.
The Hearst Castle has both an outdoor swimming pool…
…and an indoor swimming pool.
The construction of it ended for all intents and purposes in 1947.
William Randolph Hearst died in 1951, and Julia Morgan in 1957, and in that year, the Hearst family gave the castle and much of its contents to the State of California, and it has since operated as the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument.
Jean-Leon Gerome’s 1886 painting entitled “Napoleon Before the Sphinx,” hangs in the sitting room of the “Celestial Suite” at the Hearst Castle…
…and here’s how the Sphinx looks today on the right.
Viewer Jeff suggested that I check-out the Rose Garden Historic District in San Jose, California, which includes the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden; the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium; and Rosicrucian Headquarters.
We are told the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden was founded in November of 1927, when the San Jose City Council set aside 5 1/2-acres of land for a rose garden. The ground-breaking for it took place on April 7th of 1931, and the Municipal Rose Garden was officially dedicated on April 7th of 1937.
…and is considered by many to be the best rose garden in America today.
The nearby Rosicrucian Park was established in 1927 by Harvey Spencer Lewis, the founder of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) in the United States, and its first Imperator.
Rosicrucian Park hosts several things:
An Egyptian Museum that is devoted to ancient Egypt, and houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts and antiquities on exhibit in western North America…
…the Rosicrucian Planetarium, with its Moorish architecture…
…the Rosicrucian Park Peace Garden, characterized as authentic to the 18th-Dynasty of ancient Egypt, and based on the remains of Akhnaten’s city of Amarna…
…and Rosicrucian Park is the Headquarters of the English Grand Lodge for the Americas of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis.
So what do members of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis focus on?
From what I can find out about them, they study the ancient mysteries of the Universe, focusing a great deal of attention on the world of the ancient Egyptians.
Next, in San Francisco, EJ mentioned the Old St Mary’s Church, saying it is a huge red brick and granite structure.
It was said to have been built in one year in the Gothic Revival Style, with the cornerstone laid on Sunday, July 17th of 1853, and dedicated at the Christmas midnight mass in 1854.
Note the slant the building is situated on.
It was used as a cathedral until 1891, when it became a parish church.
Old St. Mary’s was said to have survived the 1906 Great San Francisco Earthquake, but did not escape the fire that followed the earthquake, during which the fires were so hot, we are told, they melted the church bells and marble altar, leaving only the exterior brick walls and the belltower.
The church was renovated in 1909.
Two more places that I am going to mention outside of California before I end this post.
SD suggested I look into the Hammond Castle in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
It was said to have been built between 1926 and 1929 by John Hays Hammond Jr, and his architects from the Boston firm of Allen and Collens, as his dream home of a medieval-style castle.
Hammond was a pioneer in the study of remote control, holding over 400 patents.
Hammond Castle operates as a museum today, displaying exhibits about his life and inventions as well as his collection of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts.
Like Scotty’s Castle back in Death Valley, Hammond’s Castle had a large pipe organ, and it was once the largest organ in the western hemisphere installed in a private residence, consisting of 8,400 pipes.
The organ at Hammond’s Castle, however, has been inoperable since 2004.
Hammond Castle is also a popular local venue for important occasions of all kinds.
The last place I would like to mention is what is called the “Felsenmeer,” or “Rock Sea,” in the Odenwald Region in Germany, which DD brought to my attention and sent me photos.
The Felsenmeer is on a mountain called the “Felsberg,” and is a rocky landscape of dark-grey, quartz diorite.
Diorite is a geopolymer, primarily composed of what is called plagioclase feldspar, but it includes other types of minerals as well.
It was used for both art and masonry in numerous ancient civilizations.
Here are some obviously cut-and-shaped megalithic diorite stone blocks in the Felsenmeer that DD sent me photos of…
…including megalithic stones with drill-holes.
This photo with the beautifully-shaped unfinished megalithic column in the Felsenmeer on the left got my attention, as it reminded me of the famous one I had seen before in Baalbek in Lebanon.
Another famous place that I am aware of that has an unsettled look to it, as if something happened right in the middle of what they were doing so the work remained unfinished and disturbed, is Puma Punka in Bolivia near Tiwanaku.
So did something of a cataclysmic nature happen, and if so, when?
Was it was far back in time as we have always thought, or did the cataclysmic something happen much more recently in time, far more recently than we have ever conceived?
I am going to end this post here.
“Short & Sweet” is an on-going series, and I have much more to come from your great suggestions, taking me to places I would otherwise not know about.
For my next post, however, I am being drawn to do a study on the subject of “Old Wild West Shows and Western Movies as Shapers of the New Narrative.”
I was leaning in the direction of focusing on that topic anyway soon, and then when I came across the information about Lone Pine’s history as a favorite filming location for westerns, I got a resounding ye do more in-depth research about this topic for my next post.