Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters • HeART Haven Studios

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Calaveras County, CA

Following the yellow line into Calaveras County I smiled to see the countryside once again change to the grand old oaks on a carpet of dried yellow grass!  Heading toward Mountain Ranch, I passed ranches and farms, vineyards and small wooden and stone towns. Many of the little towns here were originally old mining camps from the gold rush days, with names like Mountain Ranch, Sheep Ranch, Angel’s Camp, Murphy, Arnold, Railroad Flat and Sutter Creek.  This is the famous GOLD RUSH Country of California of the mid-late 1800’s, only a short time ago, relatively speaking, when you consider the millennium history of other countries. 


Here are some pictures of the old mining town of Sheep’s Ranch.   Actually, these three buildings were half the town!  Seriously!  (And two of those buildings weren’t being used!) The ones above are the general store and gas station, probably the post office and barber too!  18 cents/gallon!  That part must be relatively modern considering it was 29 cents/gallon when I was a kid!   I marveled at the fact that the antique signs and other gadgets hadn’t been looted!  It made me happy to see that!   The photo below is of an old barn and to the left, the Jail.  I’d hate to have broken the law in that town!  The jail was like a small brick box with no windows and no light!


Thirty years ago my parents lived there for 6 months and helped my aunt and uncle build a log home, which is now a small ranch up in the area.  Both families lived in tents on the 20 acres and ate off campfires, bathed in barrels, etc.   My youngest sister was still at home at the time and would write me the most entertaining letters about life “In the camps”. Coincidentally (although I don’t believe in coincidences) one of my dear friends also has a home a mere 10 minute windy mountain road away--That’s practically a next door neighbor in a ranching area.  Her family has owned 100’s of acres there for many generations, her original home built in 1924.  She retired six years ago from being a Principal down in Santa Barbara and returned to her land.  Visiting Mountain Ranch, I get to see both her and my family!


I love knowing the history of a place, especially when it comes through the people who’ve lived there for generations!  They bring heart and soul to the tales.  I think we all gravitate to STORY.  My story is but a slice in my family’s story, which is but a smaller slice of an area’s story......and so on, to country, world, universe, ... time ...    We’re ALL connected, all of mankind, all creatures, all living and non-living in all dimensions.  It’s both utterly inspiring and humbling with that perspective.


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