1995 ~ March 2005
the past decade,
been telling readers
they won't read, hear,
see anywhere else!
In the News -
Friday, MARCH 11, 2005
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
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
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:
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
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
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
“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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
"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
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.
OLD THREE RIVERS:
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
* * *
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
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)
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.