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Posts Tagged ‘Merced River’

Livingston and Hornitos, California

Posted by graywacke on October 31, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2419; A Landing A Day blog post number 852.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (37.4825 o N, 120.5040oW) puts me in central California:

Without a decent mapping program, I’m going to use Google Earth (GE) for my local landing map:

Looky there!  Two landings very close – just one mile apart!  The one to the left is landing 2248 (February 2016, “Snelling and Merced, California”). 

And now, time for true confessions.  My regional landing map above is cut and pasted from landing 2248.

I found a “hydrographic” add-on for Google Earth.  Using it, I was able to find this:

So, I landed in the watershed of Cowell Ditch.  Stealing information from landing 2248, Cowell Ditch joins up with Dana Slough.  And then, using Google Maps:

You can see that Dana Slough discharges to the Merced River (2nd hit; my first hit, obviously, was landing 2248).

I’ll then borrow this regional watershed map from landing 2248:

The Merced discharges to the San Joaquin (12th hit), which makes its way to San Francisco Bay (16th hit).

There is excellent GE Street View coverage:

And with my landing only one hundred yards away, here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

And then, he turns around and looks downstream at Cowell Ditch:

I moved him a few hundred yards north to look at the Dana Slough:

And here’s what he sees:

And just a couple of miles away, here’s a quick look at the Merced River:

OK, so it’s time to check out Livingston.  From Wiki:

The Livingston post office opened in 1873, closed in 1882, and re-opened in 1883.  [I don’t know why details about the Post Office are so often considered important in the Wiki “History” section.  Oh well.]

The town was named for Dr. David Livingstone, a British explorer of Africa who was an international celebrity in the late 1800s. An error on the town’s Post Office application resulted in the difference in spelling between his name and the town’s

I presume you know about as much about Dr. Livingstone as I do.  So, just a little bit of info, from Wiki:

David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) was a Scottish physician, African explorer and pioneer Christian missionary.  He was one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th-century Victorian era. He had a mythical status that operated on a number of interconnected levels: Protestant missionary martyr, working-class “rags-to-riches” inspirational story, scientific investigator and explorer, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of commercial and colonial expansion.

[In the plus column, he was anti-slavery.  In the minus column, he was an advocate of colonial expansion.]

His fame as an explorer was based on his obsession with learning the sources of the Nile River. “The Nile sources,” he told a friend, “are valuable only as a means of opening my mouth with power among men. It is this power which I hope to remedy an immense evil” – the slave trade.  His subsequent exploration of the central African watershed was the culmination of the classic period of European geographical discovery and colonial penetration of Africa.

Livingstone completely lost contact with the outside world for six years and was ill for most of the last four years of his life.

Henry Morton Stanley had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869. He found Livingstone in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on 10 November 1871, greeting him with the now famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Livingstone responded, “Yes” and then “I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.” These famous words may have been a fabrication, as Stanley later tore out the pages of this encounter in his diary.  Even Livingstone’s account of this encounter does not mention these words.

[Makes one wonder what was really said.  Here’s ALAD’s version:  As Dr. Stanley approached Livingstone, he said, “My God, you look terrible.”  Dr. Livingstone responded, “Who the hell are you?  You don’t look so great yourself.”  Later, they decided they needed a sanitized version  . . . ]

However, the phrase appears in a New York Herald editorial dated 10 August 1872, and the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography both quote it without questioning its veracity.

The words are famous because of their perceived humor, Livingstone being the only other white person for hundreds of miles.

Despite Stanley’s urgings, Livingstone was determined not to leave Africa until his mission was complete. His illness made him confused and he had judgment difficulties at the end of his life.

David Livingstone died in 1873 at the age of 60 in Chief Chitambo’s village at Ilala, southeast of Lake Bangweulu, in present-day Zambia, from malaria and internal bleeding due to dysentery. His loyal attendants Chuma and Susi removed his heart and buried it under a tree near the spot where he died.  The site is now known as the Livingstone Memorial.

The rest of his remains were carried, together with his journal, over 1,000 miles by Chuma and Susi to the coastal town of Bagamoyo, where they were returned by ship to Britain for burial at Westminster Abbey.

Moving right along.  Hornitos, I presume.

There’s an old historical plaque in town (or at least there was).  Here’s the transcription:

Started in 1850 by outcast Mexicans from nearby Quartsburg and given the name Hornitos, meaning “Little Ovens” from the dome-like rock and mud bake ovens being used by some Germans. 

The Whites soon gained predominance.  The population grew to many thousands and it became one of the richest and toughest early day mining camps.

Wow.  The Whites soon gained predominance, eh?  Talk about politically incorrect . . .

Here Joaquin Murietta, noted bandit chief, had a hideout and many friends. 

So happy he had many friends.

Wells Fargo established an office as early as 1852 to handle the millions produced by nearby mines.

Ghirardelli of chocolate fame started his fortune by merchandising.

More about Ghirardelli in a bit.

Here, for over fifty years, were enacted the annual religious customs of old Mexico.

Wiki has another story all together about the origin of the town’s name:

The name, meaning “little ovens” in Spanish, was derived from the community’s old Mexican tombstones that were built in the shape of little square bake ovens.

[Revisionist history, or the truth?  I certainly prefer Wiki’s version!  Continuing with Wiki]:

Domingo Ghirardelli had a general store here between 1856 and 1859 where he perfected his chocolate recipes. The remains of the store can still be seen in town.

 Here are some pictures, from Wanderwisdom.com, starting with Ghirardelli’s building:


Here’s some old building:

And the old town jail:


And the Masonic Lodge:

From walkingmyfamilyline.blogspot, here’s a back-in-the-day shot of the old hotel (looking quite prosperous):


From Wikimapia, here’s a bunch of guys in front of the Hornitos saloon:


And, from Calisphere – the California State Library website, this shot of Main Street:

A quick word about Ghirardelli Chocolate.  Domingo moved on from Hornitos and set up shop in San Francisco, where he really made it big.  I mentioned Ghirardelli to my wife Jody, who spent some formative years in San Francisco.  She immediately said “Ghirardelli Square.”  So, I went to Wiki:

Ghirardelli Square is a landmark public square with shops and restaurants and a 5-star hotel in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, California.

In 1893, Domenico Ghirardelli purchased the entire city block in order to make it into the headquarters of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. In the early 1960s, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was bought by the Golden Grain Macaroni Company which moved the headquarters off-site to San Leandro and put the square up for sale.

San Franciscan William Roth and his mother, Lurline Roth, bought the land in 1962 to prevent the square from being replaced with an apartment building. The square and its historic brick structures became an integrated restaurant and retail complex. The historic  Clock Tower was renovated; the lower floors of the Clock Tower are now home to Ghirardelli Square’s main chocolate shop.

As I’m finishing things up, I’ll repeat my Dana Slough GE Street View shot:

For post 2248, I closed with this Panoramio shot by Ray1623 of the cattle along Dana Slough (some of which you can see above):

For this post, I’ll close with a GE shot by Kevin Swaney from the same location, but now a bison (and a llama?) have been added to the mix:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Snelling and Merced, California

Posted by graywacke on February 20, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2248; A Landing A Day blog post number 676.

Dan:  After landing in a larger USer (undersubscribed state – NV); I did it again, but this time the large USer is . . . CA.  This moved my Score down from 1061 to 1006.  Check out the “About Landing (Revisited)” tab above to see what I’m talking about (if you’re curious).

Moving right along, here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

My local landing map shows that I landed closest to tiny Snelling (pop 231) but not far from the major metropolis in the area, Merced (pop 82,000):

landing 2

Here’s my very local streams-only map:

landing 3a

Note that Street Atlas doesn’t give me the name of my local watershed stream; it simply calls it “stream perennial.”  Anyway, this unnamed tributary flows to the Merced River (1st hit ever!).   Interestingly, see how my little stream flows due east?  This is opposite of the Merced, which is flowing due west.

Zooming back quite a bit:

landing 3

As you can see, the Merced makes its way to the San Joaquin (11th hit).  The San Joaquin joins up with the Sacramento to form the headwaters of San Francisco Bay (32nd hit).

I will confess here of a woeful ignorance on my part:  I didn’t realize that it’s the Merced River that (along with the glaciers) carved Yosemite Valley, and that it’s the Merced River that tumbles over Yosemite Falls (see above map)!  I’ll use any excuse for a pretty picture – here’s a gratuatous shot of the Merced River coming out of the Yosemite Valley (Wiki, by Chensiyaun):


Here’s a little info on the river from Wiki:

In the early 19th century, several military expeditions sent by Spanish colonists from coastal California traveled into the Central Valley. One of these trips, headed by Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga, arrived on the south bank of the Merced River on September 29, 1806. They named the river Rio de Nuestra Señora de la Merced (River of Our Lady of Mercy), who is the patron saint of Barcelona and is celebrated on September 24.

Of course, numerous Indian tribes (and thousands of Indians) lived along the Merced from Yosemite down to the confluence with the San Joaquin.  Of course, they were mercilessly driven out / slaughtered, mainly fueled by the gold rush . . .

Speaking of the gold rush, the Merced River valley (mainly above Snelling) was placer mined using huge dredging machines that dug up the sand and gravel along the river (separating out flakes of gold as they dredged).  Here’s some info from MuseumCa.com:

The Snelling district is in eastern Merced County along the Merced River between the towns of Snelling and Merced Falls.  The town, named in 1851 for Charles Snelling, who operated a hotel and ranch here, was the governmental seat of Merced County from 1857 until 1872.  Gold dredging began in 1907 and continued until 1919.  There was dredging again from 1929 until 1942 and 1946 to 1952.  The value of the total output of the district is unknown, but the dredges are estimated to have produced about $17 million.

The gold was recovered from stream gravels and flood plain and terrace deposits in and adjacent to the Merced River.  The gravels are loose with very little clay and range from 20 to 35 feet in depth.  The dredged area is about nine miles long and ½ to 1½ miles wide.

Note that the town of Snelling was the county seat of Merced County from 1857 until 1872.  Long-time ALAD readers are away that I periodically show pictures of majestic courthouses (when I’m so inclined).  Well, this is a little different.  It turns out that the 1857 courthouse still exists!  And check it out!  Here’s a back-in-the-day shot from CourtHouseHistory.com:

courthouse 1

And here’s what it looks like today (from NoeHill.com):


This is the most understated county courthouse I’ve seen so far . . .

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight into the Central Valley of California.  Click HERE, enjoy the flight, then hit your back button.

Street View coverage, while not bad, doesn’t provide a shot of my landing.  However, it does provide a shot of the unnamed stream that is my local watershed stream:

ge dana slough map

And check this out!  Here’s what the orange dude sees:

ge dana slough

So my stream has a name!  I landed in the watershed of Dana Slough.  There.  That feels better.

I had the orange dude turn to the right a little:

ge dana slough2

See the cattle?  At the end of this post is a much better photo (a GE Pano shot) of the cattle that hang out along Dana Slough.

So I’ve already said all I have to say about Snelling, so that leaves Merced.  No offense to Merced, but I couldn’t really a lot to feature.  But I did notice that Wiki’s entry for Merced has a section entitled “Hmong Community:”

The Hmong began to settle in Merced in the 1970s and the 1980s.  The Hmong settled Merced and other areas in the Central Valley of California after the conclusion of the Laotian Civil War, when Communist forces won and began to oppress the Hmong, who had fought for the U.S. (anti-Communist) side. The Hmong fled to refugee camps in Thailand, then moved to the United States.

Members of the Hmong community settled in Merced settled because Dang Moua, a community leader and former employee at the Embassy of the United States in Laos, promoted Merced.  Historically, as much as 15% of Merced’s population was Hmong, although it is currently less than 10%.

Going back to the Vietnam era, I remember there being a tribe from the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia who were inclined to (and therefore recruited to) side with the U.S. against the Viet Cong.  Maybe I kinda sorta remembered that they were the Hmong. 

Anyway, I found a website:  YouKnowYouveLivedInThailandWhen.com that had a good write-up on the Hmong people (by Josh at Asia Backpackers).  Here are some excerpts:

Since the late 18th century the Hmong slowly migrated to Southeast Asia from the mountainous regions of southwest China. The history of the Hmong people is difficult to trace; they have an oral tradition, but there are no written records. Hmong history has been passed down through legends and ritual ceremonies from one generation to another as well as through Hmong textile art or story cloths sewn by the women.

The Hmong were first recorded in Chinese annals as a rebellious people banished from the central plains around 2500 B.C. by the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) of China.  Recent studies of both their linguistics and DNA has suggested that they have occupied the same areas of southern China for over 2,000 years

The majority of Hmong people fled Laos in the mid 1970’s after the Vietnam war and when Laos was taken over by a communist regime, who then proceeded to persecute them for helping the Americans in their ‘Secret War’ against the Viet Cong.

The Hmong language is far from standardized and includes a mixture of various dialects. Most Hmong today are likely to speak to each other in the languages from their chosen country, such as English, Laotian, Chinese or Thai, but will still preserve their own language. All the Hmong share the same set of root words and grammar structure; they can generally communicate with each other inspite of different dialects.

Hmong people cannot be characterized as subscribing to a single belief system as they believe strongly that their physical well-being cannot be separated from their spiritual health and that the spiritual realm is highly influential and dictates what happens in the physical world. According to these beliefs, everything possesses a spirit, both animate and inanimate objects.

Over the last 40 years or so some Hmong have become Christian but they still only make up a small percentage of the total population.

Here are some pictures of Thai Hmong from the same website:





There’s a dearth of GE Panoramio shots anywhere close to my landing, although as promised earlier in this post, there is one showing cattle along Dana Slough (by Ray1623).  I’ll close with Ray’s somewhat exotic shot of long-horned cattle:

pano Ray1623

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day




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