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

  Celebrating 10 years:

March 1995 ~ March 2005

For the past decade,

The Kaweah Commonwealth

has been telling readers

things they won't read, hear,

or see anywhere else!



In the News - Friday, MARCH 11, 2005

The not-so-great

paper caper

   Last weekend, if readers found themselves having to be a little more creative in locating a copy of The Kaweah Commonwealth in Three Rivers and Lemon Cove, they weren’t alone. That’s because between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, March 4, more than a dozen distribution points were looted of every available copy of Friday’s commemorative 10th-anniversary issue.
   TKC’s publishers John and Sarah Elliott, who were both out of town, were not made aware of the incident until late Saturday afternoon when they were both on their way back to Three Rivers. By that time, most readers had found a copy of the March 4 issue but a number of outlets were not able to be restocked until Saturday night and Sunday morning.
   Paid subscribers who receive their copy via mail, Woodlake readers, deliveries to Wuksachi Village and Ash Mountain, and most businesses in Three Rivers were not affected. Those outlets that were cleaned out of all or most of their original deliveries included but may not have been limited to the following locations: Texaco Mini-Mart (Lemon Cove), Lazy J Ranch Motel, Best Western Holiday Lodge, Kaweah General Store, Village Market, Three Rivers Drug, Pizza Factory, Anne Lang’s Emporium, Three Rivers Market, Barby’s, The Cabin, and the green distribution boxes at Cherokee Oaks, Blossom at South Fork Drive (twice), and the Three Rivers Arts Center.
   The publishers estimate that between 500 and 600 papers were lost. Several witnesses reported seeing a woman and three adolescent boys carrying an unidentified number of papers from various outlets.
   One witness reported that a Three Rivers woman, approximately 50-something years old, stated that she was visiting as many local outlets as she could find that regularly stock the Commonwealth. The woman said she was “buying up” the papers because the March 4 issue contained an “embarrassing” letter.
   That Letter to the Editor, entitled “Unacceptable court action,” cited “uncalled for behavior” by Sequoia Union parents and students at a basketball game at Three Rivers School on Feb. 24. The letter, written by two Three Rivers parents, also stated that the inappropriate actions by players and students were condoned by a Sequoia Union coach.
   According to a number of spectators at the game, Sequoia Union parents and students verbally assaulted the volunteer referee and the TRUS coach. On the night after the game, the Three Rivers residence of the referee was reportedly covered with toilet paper.
The case of the missing newspapers was reported to Three Rivers resident deputy Jim Fansett on Sunday, March 6. He said he was fairly certain he knew who took the papers, but that when he confronted the suspects, they denied any wrongdoing.
   To ensure that anyone who was not immediately able to find a March 4 issue could obtain one, the publishers printed 800 extra copies on Monday, March 7, and distributed them throughout town.

Measure B defeated

   On Tuesday, March 8, shortly after the polls closed in the Woodlake High School District, the Tulare County Elections office reported that Measure B had been defeated by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. The measure, which would have provided additional funding for campus and facilities improvements at Woodlake High School, needed two-thirds voter approval, but received 747 no votes and 383 yes votes.
   The measure was the only issue on the special-election ballot. Disappointing to election officials was the fact that less than one-quarter of the precinct’s 4,635 registered voters made the effort to go to the polls.

Irish eyes are smiling:

3R couple opens

Visalia restaurant

   For one Three Rivers Irishman, Shawn McConnaughey, this St. Patrick’s Day will be like finding a leprechaun and the proverbial pot of gold. That’s because along with his brother, Eric, a Visalia architect, and a host of newfound friends, partners, and patrons, McConnaughey and wife Donna, who reside in Three Rivers, will be celebrating the grand opening of Doogle McGuires Carvery and Pub in Visalia.
   For Shawn and Donna, the opening marks the realization of a dream Shawn has harbored since even before his graduation from Mt. Whitney High School in 1982. His restaurant — in which as part owner and chef he created the menu, hired the staff, and proudly supervises daily — is an anchoring business in Visalia’s new Village West.
   Village West is the mega-development arising south of Highway 198 wedged between Cigna’s corporate headquarters and Central Valley Christian School. The development’s western edge is rapidly becoming Adventure Park, a trendy amusement center with batting cages, a mammoth arcade, laser tag, and other high-tech attractions.
   But after the addition of a La Quinta Inn to the complex, McConnaughey and his investors see Doogle McGuires as a sure bet to become a successful franchise. But like most American dreams that do come true, McConnaughey’s road to success was a long and winding one.

The path to the
end of the rainbow

   This Irish legend began when Shawn was a youngster growing up in Visalia and spending his most memorable days as a Three Rivers kid romping in the Kaweah River swimming hole below his family’s weekend Dinely Drive home.

  “My father bought that house in 1972 and it was a real fixer-upper still showing the effects of the ’69 flood and lots of river sand in the second story,” Shawn recalled. “But we’ve been building the house and rebuilding the rock walls ever since and now the place can at least survive some high water.”
   Shawn, who since 1988 has lived full-time with his wife and children in the riverfront home, recalls those years of recurring high water mostly with fondness for his neighbors who show up to help evacuate at the first sign of a mountain meltdown.

  “In 1997, we had four feet of water running through the house, and then two years ago it was only four inches,” said Shawn. “I guess we’ve learned how to go with the flow a little better and have been very lucky.”
   Coping with floods and living subject to the whims of the Kaweah River has been a sidebar to Shawn and Donna’s life at home together. But their professional aspirations have always centered around one food service company or another.
   The couple met in 1984 after Shawn completed a two-year course at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and then made a detour through Abilene, Texas, where the young chef once served dinner to 2,400 wedding guests at the swank Fairway Oaks Country Club.

  “I met Donna after moving back home while we were both working at Glick’s Market and Deli in Visalia,” Shawn recalled. “Right from the start, I thought I was going to marry that girl.”
   Shawn and Donna, from Tulare, worked a ski season together at Bear Valley in the central Sierra and a stint in Merced before moving to Three Rivers. Within a year, their daughter, Amanda, was born. She graduated from Woodlake High in 2004; their son, Patrick, is currently a freshman there.
   In Merced, Shawn helped transform a former restaurant into Buchanan’s, which he said had a similar menu to his latest creation, Doogle McGuires — slow-cooked specialty meats, mouth-watering steaks, and a farm-fresh salad bar. After the couple returned to live in Three Rivers, chef Shawn and wife Donna started Creative Cuisine, a catering company.
   For nearly two decades, the McConnaugheys catered every imaginable function for the Three Rivers Lions, Senior League, Woman’s Club, Three Rivers School fundraisers, and even Harry and Rose Kulick’s memorable 50th-anniversary party at the Three Rivers Memorial Building in 1991.

  “I used to laugh about serving our regular clientele with Donna,” Shawn said. “We did so many local events that Creative Cuisine was like a ‘meals on wheels’ program for Three Rivers.”

Creating the dream

  For the last two years, Shawn’s creative talents have had a new outlet. The seasoned chef has been mostly consumed with the planning of every detail of Doogle McGuires that at long last opened its doors on New Year’s Eve.
   Eric McConnaughey, AIA, Shawn’s older brother who resides in Visalia, designed the unique building and its custom restaurant and layout that combines patio with fireplace for outdoor parties, central family-style dining room with open kitchen, and concentric bar.
   Visalia’s best new eatery, located south of Highway 198 on Akers Road is Shawn’s grandest culinary hit to date, and its posh moderne architecture is quickly becoming a hip alternative to the proliferation of corporate restaurants.

  “We were absolutely slammed that opening night and our business has been building steadily ever since,” Shawn said. “The feedback has been great and the bar is busy every night after work.”
The layout of the place is very appealing, but just like a typical Three Rivers home, it’s not immediately apparent where the front entrance is located. Shawn says all that will change as signage and décor are added.
   The main entrance is through a patio portal that enters the dining room. Bar patrons can enter that portion of the attractive glass and stucco structure through a separate entrance and take a seat at the distinctive round bar.
   The feel and look of the bar was borrowed from a classy Oriental restaurant in the Bay Area, Shawn said. Patrons can gaze at sporting events on mounted plasma screens or strike up a conversation with other patrons within easy eye contact.
Beer and wine drinkers will appreciate the micro-tap selections and extensive wine list featured in the full-service bar.

What’s cooking
   Shawn said a lot of folks come first for the bar, but then stay for the food. All the recipes are Shawn’s own creations except for the Ahi Tuna Spring Roll.

  “I found that appetizer at a great place in Cayucos and I just felt it would be a treat to serve it here,” said Shawn. “The slow-cooked meats like the deep-pit, corned beef, baby back ribs, and the crab-stuffed mushrooms are my specialties.”
   Donna said that like most great chefs, Shawn’s secret to his success has been in his sauces.

  “I use a mustard and beer base that is my signature,” said Shawn. “All our meats are a cut above the other restaurants, especially the White Mountain pork processed for the Japanese market.”
   All desserts and dinner breads are made fresh on the premises. Shawn said that the carrot cake is the best he has ever tasted.

  “It’s really been a unique experience getting this place going from the ground up,” said Shawn. “We hired a staff of more than 50 and they have all been really super. Not a single employee has quit or left, so we must be doing something right.”

Celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day
   The grand opening celebration will be from Thursday, March 17, through Saturday, March 19, and will feature a strolling bagpiper on St. Patrick’s Day, daylong food and drink specials throughout the weekend, and live music.
   On Friday and Saturday nights the Jay Bolin Band will lend their special sound to the Irish festivities.

What are your

treasures worth?

   It’s time again to dust off those mysterious boxes in the attic and bring some family treasures and long-forgotten curiosities to the Three Rivers version of the “Antiques Roadshow.” This Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Three Rivers Historical Society will host their fourth annual Appraisal Fair at the Three Rivers Historical Museum.
   Several experienced appraisers will be on hand to share their insights with visitors regarding keepsakes, treasures, trinkets, and fabulous flea market finds. Kelly Kilgore of Mesa, Ariz., has been to Three Rivers several times to assist with the event; she specializes in Native American items.
   Ron Peyron of Porterville, antique weaponry expert, will participate in the local event for the first time. Ron and Rose Rubay and Frank Brando, all of Clovis, are general appraisers and are also first-time participants.
   The new local connection this year is Three Rivers resident John McWilliams, owner of Tule River Trading Company in Porterville. John specializes in photographs, documents, and paper collectibles.
   He has appraised items for Sotheby’s, the renowned auction house, and has a keen interest in local history.

  “Don’t assume that old family business records and personal photos only have value to your family," said John. "They can often include historic documents or a photo of a community or historic figure that may be worth hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.”

  “Old family scrapbooks and photo albums may include cartes de visite (visiting cards) of major personalities of the era. In the 1860s, families collected these cards the way sports cards are collected today," he continued.
   A rare cartes de visite can sell for as much as $2,000, John explained. Unique, old postcards can also have substantial value.
"I often see family antique collections when estates are being settled and find out that most of the paper items have already been thrown away," he said. "Sometimes the paper items can be the most valuable part of a collection.”
   For example, “worthless” stock certificates, in demand by collectors, may hold a value far more than the stock was ever worth.

  "When in doubt, check it out,” John cautioned.
   McWilliams, a member of the board of directors of the Three Rivers Historical Society, will be available for appraisals on both days of the event. Several appraisers will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, so bring a special item or a few or just drop by to watch what amazing treasures appear.
   The cost to have an item appraised is $15 with a discount provided for multiple items. Proceeds benefit the Three Rivers Historical Society. For more information, call 561-4744.

Weekend shows to

resume at The Cabin

   After a long winter’s rest, The Cabin is resuming its evenings of poetry and music. This year, the events will be held on Saturday evenings approximately once a month.
   The first event is scheduled for Saturday, March 19, at 7 p.m. Scheduled performers include Uncommon A Cappella and readings by Three Rivers residents Bill Haxton and Bette Bardeen.

  “We are looking forward to a great year on our outside stage with many wonderful local performers returning over the coming months,” said Ken Woodruff, co-owner of The Cabin. “We hope that scheduling the performances for Saturdays rather than Fridays will increase the size of the audience.”
   Another spring event at The Cabin will be the “Bear Affair,” featuring live performances and an auction and raffle to raise funds for the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks bear-management program. The date will be announced.
   Next week’s poetry and music event is free and open to the public. The Cabin is located at 42251 Sierra Dr. in Three Rivers.




The humble beginnings

   As the 19th century waned, small settlements had appeared along each fork of the Kaweah River — Middle, North, and South. These evolved into what has become the community of Three Rivers today.
   The South Fork was actually settled earliest and, because of this, a town center was slowly developed in the area that is today on Old Three Rivers Drive between its intersections with Blossom Drive and South Fork Drive.
   For a settlement to promote itself to town status, there needs to be several civic elements in addition to a cluster of homes. By the early 20th century, the Old Three Rivers environs consisted of a school, hotel, mercantile, post office, livery stable, gas station, library, and church, all located along what was then the only road through Three Rivers.
                                                 * * *
   During the 1870s, the Blossom and Palmer families had claimed much of what is now “Old Three Rivers” proper. Property in the vicinity was also owned by the Work family and Charles Bahwell.
   In 1873, the Mineral King Mining District was organized that, in itself, created a seasonal flow of miners through the area. On Aug. 20, 1879, the Mineral King Wagon and Toll Road opened, which enabled entire families to access the high-country region, as well as those providing goods and supplies.
   This new road began in the Three Rivers area where the county road ended and accommodated the buggies and buckboards traveling to Mineral King.
   Also in 1879, Three Rivers was officially named on an application for a community post office. According to Sophie Britten, who is in the midst of writing a book on the history of Three Rivers, the first postmaster was Laura E. Groves, who operated out of her home just down the road from the town-center area.
   By 1888, a census confirmed that there were 150 people living in the widespread Three Rivers district. The majority of the men listed their occupation as farmer.

Teaching the children...
   In 1873, the area’s first school — Cove School — was founded at Cherokee Flat (present-day Cherokee Oaks subdivision), but students living north and east of that location had to ford the river to attend, which in times of high water was too dangerous or impossible. In 1885, the log cabin that housed the school was relocated across the river to property donated by Sam Kelly above the present-day intersection of Old Three Rivers and Blossom drives.
   In 1910, the name of Cove School was changed to Three Rivers School. In 1917, a new, larger clapboard building was built over the original one-room log structure.
   In 1928, when the Three Rivers Union School District was approved by voters, a new building was constructed up-canyon, on the site where Three Rivers School stands today, and all the area schools merged into this one.
   The old Cove (Three Rivers) School building is today a private residence on Old Three Rivers Drive. On April 24, 2000, a portion of the home burned in an early-morning blaze that may have been caused by faulty wiring. The home has since been rebuilt.

Creating a village...
   The Old Three Rivers area became the hub of activity for the far-flung residents of the area. Families began settling nearby, including the Alles family.
   In 1887, Conrad and Christina Alles and their 10 children settled six miles up the South Fork, but when Conrad, Sr., died in June 1891, the family moved downriver to the Old Three Rivers area.
Christina was deeply religious and she soon organized a Sunday school that was held in her home. She is credited with holding the first public worship services in the community.
   On Jan. 19, 1938, at the age of 96, Christina died at her Three Rivers home after being bedridden for just a few days. She had her sons and daughters at her bedside, and her last request was for them to continue in “right living.”
   Today, more than a century later, there are still Alles descendants residing in Three Rivers.
                                                   * * *
   According to Jim Barton, who was raised in Three Rivers, by the 1930s, at what today is the junction of Old Three Rivers Drive and South Fork Drive, there was a store, owned by H.P. Moffett, and a gas station, which was owned and operated by Harry and Rose (Mullenix) Vaughn.
   Across South Fork Drive from this intersection still stands the home of the late Fred and Rena (Alles) Ogilvie. About a quarter-mile north, at the entrance to present-day South Fork Estates was a lodge and market, owned by the Britten family.
   This area will be the subject of an upcoming installment of the ongoing Roadside Attractions series.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL:
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