Monday, July 27, 2009

Doors and Diamonds

Sunday, July 19

After a week of working through a heat wave, and days of peace and quiet with the children at camp (oops, did I say that out loud?), it was time to pick them up. Oh yes, and drop off the next batch of kids, too. It was Tina's turn for a peaceful and quiet week. (Oops, did I say that out loud?)

We went the back way up through the Pipi camp- ground, (pronounced pie-pie,) and wound our way along steep forest service roads. Leoni Meadows is a lovely surprise amid thick forests. Its large meadow spreads over hundreds of acres, with cabins, covered wagons, teepees, and more. The kids had a fun week of fun and adventure, with horseback riding, archery, swimming, go-karts, and more.

There was a gap of several hours between when we picked up the adorable fuzzy little dirt balls formerly known as my children, and when we were supposed to drop off John and Laura, my niece and nephew. Tina and I had already decided to picnic and then look for the old town of Caldor.

Located several miles from the camp, Caldor used to be a thriving community. (Before it was a thriving community, it was a not-so-thriving community named Dogtown.) Home of the California Door Company (Cal-Door...see?), the logging camp had the mill, housing for the workers, a kitchen and dining room, and even a hospital. In
1923 a fire wiped the place out, and the mill relocated. As far as I've been able to find, the only other time the town seemed to be occupied was by the California Conservation Corps camp that set up there in the 30's. Train buffs also deeply care that Caldor was the easternmost stop for the Diamond and Caldor Railroad. The rest of us just see it as The End of the Line.

We wanted to find some sign of the burned-out ghost town, but lunch had to come first! The careful observer will notice that, in this picnic photo, Tiggy isn't eating with the others, but is up walking around in the forest. It turned out she was learning some other uses for leaves besides just photosynthesis.
The kids played in the creek, well, mostly. A few just sat around looking beautiful.

Then a few creative souls turned our picnic seats into a teeter-totter. Mostly a totter.

Toss in one last game with a wheel-less wheelbarrow and a willing "horse", and we were finally ready to hunt up Caldor. It had to be there somewhere. I mean, even in a hundred years, you don't usually lose every trace of a town, even one that burned. Besides, Damon had found an old railroad spike, so I knew we were close.

Some people set out on foot, and others of us, wanting to cover more territory, started off in the 4wd vehicle. It didn't turn out to matter, since we met up a few minutes later anyway.

Like any intrepid archaeologist, we were thrilled to run across a raised platform of some kind that seemed to be man-made. We followed it on foot to where it ended by a stream. Crossing over, we found a large area, flat compared to the steep hills over most of the area, beginning to be covered by newer growth than the rest of the forest. Eureka!

Excitement rising, we plunged on. I was the first to see it - that skeletal frame rising, wraith-like, from the forest floor. In the same moment, I caught sight of lengths of rusted pipe lying along the ground. The shack was more interesting, but the pipe was closer. "Hey, guys, look over here," I called, pointing up at the shack. I had almost reached the pipe when a marrow-freezing shriek tore through the woods. It was Tina. "LOOK LOOK LOOK EVERYBODY LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

You can see how her perspective of this would be different, since she didn't hear me try to call her attention to it. Fortunately for me, this is my blog, my story, and I can tell it how I want to - the complete version.

The shack that ~ I ~ discovered was more recent than the town of Caldor, but the thrill of finding it spurred us on. By the time we made the circuit, we had found, among other things. a very old broken cup, vintage (or older) broken glass and dishes, a modern fork, bullet shells, shoe soles with nail holes in them, several types of ceramic sewer pipe, 2 old metal washtubs, and a vintage fly swatter skeleton.

Unripe gooseberries dotted the landscape, as is common in that area. If you're ever stranded in the forest, they make great eating...if you can get to them.

We didn't find any signs of burnt buildings, so either they've been covered over time, or more likely, there was more to the site than we found. Simple! We'll have to go back, with shovels this time.

Next adventure to follow shortly,
Noni Beth

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