News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

In the News - Friday, november 17, 2006



Special four-page section--





and it's quite different

from California collectively



Three Rivers receives

Paul Bunyan artifacts


  Eric Barnes, son of legendary sculptor Carroll Barnes, was in town Friday, Nov. 10, bearing some very important gifts. The purpose of his latest visit was to donate some artifacts related to the carving of the giant redwood Paul Bunyan.
   The 13-ton sculpture was completed by the elder Barnes in 1942 at his studio just above the present-day Sierra Lodge and then moved to a couple of other Three Rivers locales. It was later sold and became a tourist attraction at the Paul Bunyan Motor Lodge on Highway 65 after the Barnes family moved to Sebastopol in 1969.
   In 2001, the Three Rivers Historical Society, led by Janine Chillcott, was able to secure the 16-foot tall sculpture and had it returned to its rightful home in Three Rivers. Now Eric Barnes has gifted pertinent items to the Three Rivers Historical Museum — including the actual chisel that his father used to make the statue — relating to perhaps the most iconic piece among the artist’s hundreds of works.
   Most of Carroll Barnes’s largest sculptures, who worked in both wood and stone, adorn public buildings and sites throughout California like the “Giant” at the College of Sequoias campus in Visalia. After Carroll’s death in 1997 at age 91, Eric inherited the private collection that includes an additional 200 sculptures and another 40 linear feet of archives.
   For the past several years, Eric Barnes has been in a quandary of exactly what to do with a collection of such tremendous importance. According to Eric, there does not seem to be any one institution ideally suited or willing to take on the entire collection.
Eric, who was raised in Three Rivers and worked his last season here as an interpretive ranger in Sequoia National Park in 1969, would like to see a major part of the collection end up in Tulare County and Three Rivers. Roughly half of the archival material, or 20 linear feet of photos, drawings, maps, correspondence, etc., deal with the three decades (1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s) that Carroll Barnes lived in Three Rivers.
   The dilemma for Eric has been to find an institution that could adequately care for and appreciate the collection. Ideally, he said, the art and the archives should remain mostly intact in one collection.

  “Currently, the collection is being stored at the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa,” Eric said. “It’s obvious that some of these items belong here in Tulare County so perhaps the folks in Sonoma would be willing to share.”
   Barnes said he likes the progress being made and what he sees going on lately at the Three Rivers Historical Museum.

  “The chisel is a very important artifact used to create Paul Bunyan and we are very pleased to be able to add it to our Three Rivers collection,” said John Mc-Williams, archivist, who accepted the items on behalf of the local museum. “The archives that Mr. Barnes has presented us today are indispensable in documenting local history and the relations between Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park.”

Give thanks for

Thanksgiving forecast

   While the Valley has been coping with dense early morning fog, Kaweah Country basks in glorious sunshine and improving air quality. The recent run of good weather, especially in the morning, is due in part to a strong inversion layer that not only traps the moist Tule fog below 500 feet in elevation but also puts a lid on the pollutants until mid-day when prevailing winds reverse.
   That pattern, with no rain in sight and high temperatures around 70 degrees, is likely to continue through the Thanksgiving weekend. But consider some West Coast alternatives:
   In the past 10 days, the Pacific Northwest has been clobbered by record rainfall that mercifully has turned to snow in some of the higher elevations. Mount Rainier National Park was closed to the public and is still recovering from major flood damage.
   On Wednesday, Crescent City, on the northernmost California coast near the Oregon border, weathered a tsunami. The series of five to six-foot surges were in no way, shape, or form like the 2004 Indian Ocean version but it was enough to make locals nervous and realize that their new warning system of coastal sirens was useless.
   The surging waves that acted like the force of a powerful river struck the harbor for nearly three hours. A powerful 8.1 earthquake that had occurred in Japan caused the weird wave action.
   The warning snafu was caused by local weather service personnel who predicted a tidal wave would hit the region at approximately 11:40 a.m. There was a small surge at that time so everyone returned to business as usual.
   At 2:30 p.m., the first large surge waves were spotted and locals in the harbor ran for higher ground in near panic. Crescent City residents are very sensitive when it comes to even the threat of a tsunami.
   In 1964, the town was blasted by a 21-foot wave that killed 11 people and decimated the central harbor district. In Wednesday’s event, several boats were sunk and piers were ripped apart with an estimated $700,000 damage to 50 percent of the harbor.
   What do these unusual early-season events mean for local weather? It’s difficult to say, but storms in this region are expected to become gradually wetter with each passing season.
   Forecasters are predicting more precipitation on the western slope of the Sierra with a greater percentage falling as rain and producing less snow. At the very least, properties near streams and seasonal drainages should be prepared for increased runoff.

Local business climate
changes with season

   With the holidays rapidly approaching, local businesses are making seasonal adjustments, sporting some new looks, and gearing up for what should be a busy holiday season.
   ON NOVEMBER 1, Three Rivers’s largest lodging establishment — the Holiday Inn Express — began its transition to become a Comfort Inn & Suites.

  “It wasn’t necessarily our choice to make the change,” said Kitty Lee, who with her husband, Henry, purchased the 103-room property earlier this year. “The deal to become a Comfort Inn and Suites was negotiated by the previous owner.”
   But the Lees have already reaped some obvious benefits with increased online bookings from their new parent company. They also plan to continue the makeover of the property that is currently underway.

  “We’ve upgraded all the beds, the Jacuzzi and pool area, purchased new fitness equipment, and installed security cameras,” Kitty said.
   And that’s only the beginning. The large landscaped pad east of the hotel will be used to stage special events for guests and the Three Rivers community.

  “We’ll start planning our events calendar in 2007 after our transition is complete,” Kitty said.
   THE THREE RIVERS Market, operating at the same location for more than 60 years, recently upgraded their look with new corporate signage and a fresh coat of white paint to the façade of the building. Sam Yim, who with his wife, Sookie, are the owners and operators of the venerable market, said the changes were necessary to maintain their relationship with Shell.
   In recent weeks, the pumps at Three Rivers Market have remained competitive with other quality gas retailers in the Visalia area.

  “We try to offer the best price possible to our Three Rivers customers,” Sam said recently.
   A BOLD NEW paint job was also recently completed on the building that houses Nadi’s Studio across from the office of the Commonwealth. The brightly accented yellow color scheme will make it even easier for art patrons to find the digs of Nadi Spencer, local muralist and portrait painter.
   THERE’S ALSO A new solar conversion company operating in Three Rivers and the timing couldn’t be better. According to owner John Sturdevant, the kilowatt price paid for the generated product will be slightly lower starting Jan. 1, 2007, so now is the time to lock in a conversion contract.
   Three Rivers, with its extra sunny days during the winter when the Valley is often shrouded in Tule fog, has tremendous potential for the burgeoning solar industry. His company, he said, recently completed the state licensing paperwork and is now ready to contract for area work.
   A local plumbing and air conditioning contractor said that to convert a typical 2,000-square-foot home, the owner might expect to make a substantial investment of $50,000 or more. But, he said, with all the incentives out there the investment adds immediately to the property value and pays for itself in a few years.

Leo the Lion and SNHA

host Astronomy Social

   The night sky has been called humanity’s great picture book.
   The constellation of Leo tells the story of the Nemean Lion, a huge and powerful beast that was immune to weapons. Hercules was forced to wrestle the lion to death.
   He then skinned the lion with its own claws and wore the tough skin for protection. The constellation reminds us of the qualities of strength and bravery.
   Where is your favorite place to watch the stars? What was your most memorable stargazing moment?
   Most people’s stories include seeing a shooting star. So, on Friday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m., the whole town is invited to gather at the Three Rivers School upper field for a view of the Leonid meteor shower.
   A meteor shower is marked by a steep increase in the number of meteoroids, or shooting stars, in a particular part of the night sky. For example, every mid-November the Earth passes through the same region of space that has a high density of meteoroids that appear to be coming from the direction of the constellation of Leo the lion.
   The phenomenon is known as the Leonid meteor shower.
   The earliest records we have of people observing the Leonid meteor shower dates to 902 AD. The Egyptians were so awestruck by the show that they declared that year as the “Year of the Stars.”
   Historically, meteor showers have been interpreted by rulers as a foreshadowing of significant social or political events. One year, a meteor shower generated so much speculation about good times to come that champagne was bottled in the shower’s name.
   In 1833, these showers were so huge that newspapers across the eastern United States ran stories about whole towns not being able to sleep for the shouts of awe from townspeople.
   The meteoroids we are hoping to see are entering the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 158,000 miles per hour, or 2,663 times as fast as a professional baseball pitch. While some will have their eyes open for shooting stars, we’ll be pointing out constellations, learning their stories, and exploring the story behind the scene.
   For this free event, bring something to lie down on, dress warmly, and bring a pair of binoculars if you have them. We’ll meet you on the ball field and start as close to 8 p.m. as possible.
   A flashlight will only be necessary for getting to and from the event. Please, no pets or alcohol. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The event will take place weather permitting.

The story of Mineral King told
in recently republished book

   The Sequoia Natural History Association has just released a republished version of Beulah: A Biography of the Mineral King Valley of California. This book, originally published in hardcover in 1988, has been out of print for several years.
   The newly republished version is entitled Mineral King: The Story of Beulah. But the name isn’t the only thing that changed.
   The book, which already included dozens of historic photos, now features some never-before-published photos.
   The book documents the history of Mineral King in an easy-to-read, non-technical format. It’s the story of the alpine valley from its first documented discovery in 1863 and covers its tumultuous past from mining days to resort development to its inclusion into Sequoia National Park in 1978.
   Louise Jackson, a resident of Three Rivers, has lived some of the history of Mineral King, as have her ancestors. To create this book, Louise continued the work of her mother, Alice Crowley Jackson, who spent many years researching and recording the history of Mineral King.
   Louise’s ancestors were instrumental in the building of the original wagon road to Mineral King, and her family is the namesake of the former Crowley Resort in Mineral King, which opened in 1895. It was located at the end of the Mineral King Road and included a hotel, store, post office, butcher shop, stable, dance hall, and more than a dozen rental cabins.
   Today, all that remains is one small cabin, “The Honeymoon Cabin,” the dance floor’s concrete platform, and the Crowley family cabin.
   Mineral King: The Story of Beulah is available at visitor centers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, via mail order by calling (559) 565-3759, or online at:

Ready… set…
GO Christmas shopping

   For more than 20 years, the Three Rivers Senior League has kicked off the holiday season in Kaweah Country with its Holiday Bazaar. Artisans and crafters from near and far converge each November at the Three Rivers Memorial Building to offer their wares.
   Tomorrow will be no different as the bazaar will be made up of more than 50 booths featuring gift items, artwork, handmade creations, and so much more.
   The Three Rivers School seventh-grade class will man a booth consisting of handcrafted items such as ornaments, swags, baby bibs, birdhouses, and more. The students have been busy creating inventory, and all proceeds from sales go to the class’s eighth-grade San Francisco Trip fund.
   Additionally, there will be hot food and baked goods, as well as door prizes given away throughout the event.
   Next weekend, the Kaweah Artisans will host “The Perfect Gift Boutique,” an annual exhibit and sale held during Thanksgiving weekend. Nine artists will be at the Three Rivers Arts Center from Friday through Sunday.
   Then, on the first Saturday in December, head to Lemon Cove where holiday bazaars will be ongoing at the Lemon Cove Woman’s Clubhouse and Memorial Building.

Three Rivers company

shines in their field

   It’s a rather out of the way place to have a glass design, engineering, and fabrication company, but that’s the risk Manuel Marinos of Three Rivers, president and CEO, took to be able to have his work and family, too.
   Located in the former Bullene winery tasting room, Manuel’s Innovative Structural Glass, Inc., is a thriving company that recently received national attention. The company was presented with a 2006 Crystal Achievement Award, recognizing ISG in the category of “Most Innovative Decorative Glass Application-Medium or Small Company,” for an interior structural glass wall system that was designed, engineered, and fabricated for the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
   ISG’s structural glass enclosure is for a unique fountain of chocolate.
   According to a technical write-up in the September issue of Glass magazine: “White, medium and dark confection-grade chocolate flow from slumped glass bowls in the multifaced 14-foot enclosure to the glass floor. The enclosure has vertical and canting lites of glass angling at multifaceted slopes and is constructed of two lites vertically and a maximum of 15 lites horizontally. An operable winch-and-pulley system opens and closes the upper course of glass panels structurally secured at the ceiling. The concept is similar to a rose, as the petals of the flower open into full bloom. The cabling techniques are similar to those used in aircraft design. All hinges, hardware and the structural steel backup structure had to be custom designed and manufactured by ISG. The glass, also provided by ISG, consists of clear monolithic and laminated lites. The faceted enclosure encompasses three differing radii on three elevations and has a funnel shape in section view. Integrated tempered glass swing doors bring workers into the enclosure for maintenance. It took two years of engineering, planning and design to execute this project.”
   A judge said: “The chocolate wall is complex and beautiful and makes you crave chocolate.”

Father, daughter take
gold in Fat Tire Classic

   Grace Ogawa, 19, of Three Rivers is making a name for herself in an annual mountain bike race held in conjunction with the Springville Apple Festival. The eight-mile circuit race was held Sunday, Oct. 22.
   The race course parallels the Tule River and includes some dirt road, single track, and challenging ascents and descents.
   Grace defended her title of Queen of the Hill (the first female to reach the highest point of the race) and also finished first in her age category (19-34, Expert Women). She received $100 for being named this year’s Queen of the hill.
   Grace’s dad, Art Ogawa, rode in the 55+ Expert Men category. He, too, garnered a first place in his category.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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