Weird tales and wild times under the deodara tree

For a time in the 1800s the small town of Auburn California was a destination and not just the place where folks stopped off for a bite or to fill up the tank before heading east over the Sierra Nevadas.

Panning for gold

And why?  Because gold was discovered in the near-by hills, leading to the infamous Gold Rush. Above is a monument to the old time prospectors (or panhandlers). 

Olde Town

Olde Town

The other day on our way to Reno Nevada we decided to try the Mexican cafe in old section of Auburn. The cafe itself was nothing much to see but across the street was this structure currently undergoing some sort of repair.  Care to guess what it is?

It’s the former home of Auburn Hook and Ladder No. 2. Below are the front doors reflecting the streets of the old town it served.

I was curious as to why fire engines used to be called hook and ladders and here’s an explanation from Google:

A hook ladder, also known as a pompier ladder (from the French pompier meaning firefighter) is a type of ladder that can be attached to a window sill or similar ledge by the use of a hooked extending bill with serrations on the underside. The hooked ladder then hangs suspended vertically down the face of the building.

 

After lunch we noticed a couple of plaques next to the fire station.

I had no idea what the significance of a Cypress deodara was and so had to google once again.

“Native to the western Himalayas in Afghanistan derives from the Sanskrit term devadāru, which means “wood of the gods”, a compound of deva “god” and dāru “wood and tree”.Forests full of Deodar or Devadāru trees were the favorite living place of ancient Indian sages and their families who were devoted to the Hindu god Shiva .

To please Lord Shiva, the sages used to perform very difficult tapasya (meditation) practices in deodar forests. Also the ancient Hindu epics and Shaiviteexts regularly mention Darukavana, meaning a forest of deodars, as a sacred place.”

The second plaque was dedicated to Jean Baptiste Charbonneau who was the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

At first, I thought it odd that a town would dedicate a plaque to a man whose claim to fame was being carried to the Pacific coast in a papoose but future research revealed he was quite well educated (by William Clark) and lived in Europe as a sort of goodwill ambassador before heading for wild times in the rollicking West.

Clark Aston Smith

Clark Aston Smith

This suspicious looking writer of “weird tales” also lived for a period of time in Auburn although the townsfolk rarely caught a glimpse of  him.  He hid in his ailing parent’s house where, in his own words he inspired “to delude the reader into accepting an impossibility, or series of impossibilities, by means of a sort of verbal black magic, in the achievement of which I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor, simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation.” 

He never met, though was a longtime pen pal of H.R. Lovecraft, author of the Dunwich Horror and other macabre tales. Before we had the internet and email, writer’s  befriended each other via pen and ink. Imagine that.

Here’s one more door for Norm Frampton’s doors from around the world event.  This place used to be the cafe to stop at for breakfast.  I don’t know what it is now.

 

 

14 thoughts on “Weird tales and wild times under the deodara tree

  1. What an amazing treasure trove of information you found while visiting one small town. The photo of the young man is haunting. Makes me wonder what tales he’d have to tell.

  2. Jan, I love this post!

    Still trying to get replugged into your “comments” section. I think I’ve got it, but have to deal with a lost password.

    On Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 12:25 PM Saying Nothing in Particular wrote:

    > JT Twissel posted: ” For a time in the 1800s the small town of Auburn > California was a destination and not just the place where folks stopped off > for a bite or to fill up the tank before heading east over the Sierra > Nevadas. And why? Because gold was discovered in t” >

  3. Its interesting how far the deodar had travelled historically. The deodar can be found right across the Himalayas, as far east as Bhutan. The Ming dynasty of China imported deodar trees from Nepal, and used the tall straight trunk of each tree as a pillar in some of their massive constructions. The one you saw is another step in its globalization.

  4. There’s a town not that far from Auburn were they actually filmed a few of the Westerns – Columbia. They created a real-life model of an old West town and it’s still there to wander through.

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