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Nature Index
(My hiking and camping adventures in Northern California.)

Culture Index
(NorCal cities, highways, restaurants, museums, architecture, historic attractions, vintage neon signs, roadside attractions, etc.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

US Route 50: Sacramento's Folsom Boulevard

U.S Route 50 runs 3073 miles from Ocean City, Maryland to West Sacramento (up until 1964 it turned south from Sacramento to Stockton, then went west to the Bay Area via Tracy). It is the last of the designated federal highways (from before the Interstate system) to run from coast to coast (or at least to a reasonable drive from the coast in West Sacramento).

In California US 50 follows a route historically important both for 19th century immigration and for the development of automobile travel and the highway system. From South Lake Tahoe to Folsom, the current U.S. Route 50 roughly follows the immigrant wagon train path. In the early 20th century, this became the southern branch of the Lincoln Highway (the northern branch went from Truckee to Sacramento roughly along the old U.S. Route 40 and current Interstate 80 path). From its origin in 1926 until the completion of the El Dorado Freeway (current U.S. 50) in 1973, U.S. 50 ran from Folsom to East Sacramento and Midtown via Folsom Boulevard.

Unlike many stretches of old U.S. 40 in the greater Sacramento area, business has continued to flourish along most of the old U.S. 50 route on Folsom Blvd., despite being bypassed by the freeway. It remains an important east-west artery through East Sacramento, and is the main business thoroughfare in Rancho Cordova.

As a result, Folsom Blvd. is lined with a hodgepodge of new and old. I'm going to highlight those old portions that can still be seen, or could be seen in the last few years, while taking you on a trip down Folsom Blvd. from its west end at Alhambra Blvd. in East Sacramento to Rancho Cordova, leaving the historic mining town of Folsom for another blog entry.

3145 Folsom Blvd.
Rosemount Grill

[Historic photo of the Rosemount Grill.]

This long-time Sacramento institution was originally located downtown, but moved to Folsom Blvd. around 1940. When the owners retired and sold the place, the new owners wanted to maintain the tradition, but the family didn't want somebody else running the business under the same name, so the old neon sign was carted off to the Sacramento Archives, where it is still preserved, and the restaurant became Andiamo's. I had an Easter Buffet there once long before learning anything of the restaurant's history.

20051031 Andiamo!

3201 Folsom Blvd.
Regal Station

20071209 Former Regal Petroleum

This was the sign for a gas station from the Regal Petroleum Corporation. In the early 1970s, the lot was used for a car dealership, and the owner made good use of the sign, naming the business Crown Auto Sales. Really, Finish Master? Why not be the Finish King, rather than just a master? Restore the crown!

3300 Folsom Blvd.
Philipp's Bakery

20070426 Philipp's Bakery

This place I was able to get a little insider information on as I was photographing it one night and ran into the owner (as he told me, co-owner with his brother as I found out later). His last name was Philipp and this had been his father's bakery, but it had passed out of the family hands. He (and his brother) did well in business and and bought the bakery, and his wife was running the bakery. He gave me his business card and hers. But then shortly after, the bakery closed, and an article indicated the two brothers had evicted the baker tenant. Odd.

Anyhow, he had the sign restored by Pacific Neon. Just in case there would be some objections to putting it back up, he had the work done on the sign in place. They discovered that, while it had not been used that way for years, the sign was designed to be a flasher, so it was restored that way. But he soon found out why it had been altered, as a part costing a couple of hundred dollars needed to be replaced every few months.

4300 Folsom Blvd.
East Lawn Memorial Park

20051101 East Lawn Memorial Park

4757 Folsom Blvd.
Hilltop Tavern

20070301 Hilltop

Formerly a small grocery store, the Hilltop opened in the late 1950s or 1960, and when I first saw it, had lovely murals out front, which are now gone.

20051031 Hilltop Tavern

4800 Folsom Blvd.
East Sacramento Hardware

From at least 1953 to 1982 this was Sacramento Building Specialties, and it has been East Sacramento Hardware since at least 1990.

4920 Folsom Blvd.
Burr's Fountain

I'm curious about this place. It has only been an ice cream shop since the late 1970s or early 1980s (first Vicki Marie's Ice Cream before becoming Burr's Fountain). Before that it was Zarett's Pharmacy, dating back to the 1950s, which looks like the right age for the building. It's possible that it had a soda fountain in it as a pharmacy, which would make it one of the oldest in Sacramento. The counter inside is certainly much newer than that, but whether it replaced one from the 1950s, I don't know.

Owned by the same people as venerable Vic's Ice Cream across town (according to a friend), the menu is much the same--you can still get your sandwiches, which come with potato chips and pickles, on dark rye, and you can get a braunchweiger sandwich to go with your phosphate.

5200 Folsom Blvd.

20081128 Socal's Tavern

While this has long been a tavern, it has only operated under the names Socals since the early 1970s. In the '50s and '60s it was the Clover Club.

5201 Folsom Blvd.
The (Sub) Shack

20001118 The Sub Shack

Born in the early 1970s as The Sub Shack, it has gone upscale under new owners and dropped the "sub" part, and is now a small eatery with a lovely outdoor area known as The Shack.

20070211 The Shack

5723 Folsom Blvd.
Square Deal Cafe/Espanol Italian Restaurant

20071120 Italian Dinners

The Espanol Italian restaurant started as the restaurant in a Basque boarding house for sheepherders, the Espanol Hotel, at 114 J Street in 1923. Ancil Hoffman bought it during the depression and turned it into a celebrity hangout. Ann Sothern and Max Baer frequented the place. In 1952, it moved into the Commercial Hotel at Third and I. In 1959 the Luigi brothers bought it and gradually changed the food served from Basque to Italian. In 1965 it moved to its present location because of the construction of I-5 where the Commercial Hotel once stood. The building formerly housed the Square Deal Cafe.

5810 Folsom Blvd.
Corti Bros.

20051030 Corti Brothers

This was the Grand View Market in the 1950s, and Giant Foods in the 1960s, but as the sign tells you, Corti Bros. has been around since 1947. They started downtown, at what was presumably a much smaller location, then moved to 3195 Folsom Blvd. before moving even farther out to this spot around 1969-1970, presumably following their customers in the flight from downtown.

They usually win any local vote for best deli, and have a fine selection of specialty import groceries. It's where I go every year to get lefse, and the only place I can find in the area that it is available.

5901 Folsom Blvd.
Camellia Cleaners

20070211 Camellia Cleaners

Camellia Cleaners has been here since at least 1970. Before that Bossy's Drive-In had this address, but I'm not sure if it's the same building or not.

6200 Folsom Blvd.
Giovanni's Pizzeria

This was a tractor supply business for most of its early life, which gives you an idea of the changing character of the area, as this used to be the edge of town. This is my favorite place for New York style pizza.

6300 Folsom Blvd.
Hoppy Brewing Co.

And this placed housed a feed & farm supply company.

6601 Folsom Blvd.
Sambo's Pancakes

20070424 Sambo's Pancakes

It was built as a Sambo's in the mid 1960s, and remained one until at least 1982, and has been a series of restaurants since then.

6727 Folsom Blvd.
Dairy Queen Drive-In No. 52

20050919 Burger Chief

It started out as a Dairy Queen in the mid 1960s and remained one until the early 1990s, then became, successively, Burger Chief, Will's Burger, and now Dino's Dogs & Gyros.

6800 Folsom Blvd.
A&A Appliance

20070424 A&A Appliance

8294 Folsom Blvd.
Sac City Ink

Housed in an old brick building.

Junction with CA-16

Folsom Boulevard swings around a bit here, and then closely parallels the railroad tracks for several miles into Folsom. This grade was originally selected for the Sacramento Valley Railroad, which started construction in Sacramento in 1852, and reached Folsom in 1856. Now the Sacramento Regional Transit lightrail runs this route. See this history of the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad.

8329 Folsom Blvd.
Park N Gas

20060207 Park N Gas

An old Texaco station.

8475 Folsom Blvd.
Crazy Tacos

20070317 Crazy Tacos

It was Brawley's Coffee Shop from at least 1970-1990, although I don't know if it was originally that.

8545 Folsom Blvd.
Bamboo Tree Mobile Park

20060207 Bamboo Tree Mobile Home Park

8581 Folsom Blvd.
Tahsoe Motel & Coffee Shop

20060207 Tahsoe Motel

It has been a while since the coffee shop was open, but the motel was still around in 2007, and was demolished late that year. I don't know what the name is in reference to.

8637 Folsom Blvd.
Stardust Motel

20071117 Stardust Motel

It's harder for me to research businesses farther out than this, as we are now moving out of range of the earlier city limits

9509 Folsom Blvd.
Casa Linda Motel

9515 Folsom Blvd.
Vince's Motel

Welcome to Rancho Cordova


There are some interesting historic artifacts in Rancho Cordova, like the Kilgore Cemetery, but the vast majority of this city is of very recent origin. A post office didn't open up here until 1955, and the city was not incorporated until 2003. It consists largely of corporate campuses, strip malls, and suburban housing. The city has massive plans for growth, so I'm sure it will get even uglier than it already is.

9878 Folsom Blvd.
Routier Station

20090705 Routier Station, 1860
Long Exposure at Night of the Front

This is the historic railroad station on the Sacramento Valley Railroad line known as Routier Station. It dates from 1860, and of late has been uses as an office for Pfingst Realty Company. It's a neglected relic--despite the fact that I used to drive by it on the way to work and meant to photograph it, it took me 4 years to get around to doing so, and I can't find any other photos of it on Flickr.

20090705 Routier Station, 1860
Long Exposure at Night of the Back

10115 Folsom Blvd.
Old Mills Winery Office Park

20090626 Old Mills Winery

Being the clever sleuth that I am, I have deduced from the name of this business park and the part of a wine cask used for its sign that a winery once operated at this location, but I haven't found any information on it yet.

10121 Folsom Blvd.
Walker Cordova Hardware

20051122 Walker Hardware

10153 Folsom Blvd.

20070625 Old Wienerschnitzel

In the classic A-frame building, now demolished.

10271 Folsom Blvd.
1st Value Inn

Formerly a Motel 6.

10273 Folsom Blvd.
Rosie's Country Kitchen

Formerly a Denny's.

10701 Folsom Blvd.
Cordova Lodge/Inn

20080304 Cordova Lodge Restaurant

Cordova Lodge, is what it originally was. After a series of other names, it now has one that is simliar, the Cordova Inn. I would guess that it was built around the time that the post office opened (1955). The "Restaurant" sign on the side had been painted the same color as the building to blend in for years, since there is no longer an operating restaurant, but when I drove by recently I noticed it has been removed all together.

I hope to flesh this out some more in the future with more information and photos, and perhaps more entries, but for now, this is it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

South Yuba Trail: Purdon Crossing to Edwards Crossing

20090531 Me Photographing Edwards Crossing
Me in Action at Edwards Crossing

With Labor Day behind us, my hiking buddy Erik felt like it was summer and was anxious to visit the High Sierra this weekend, but I vetoed that, as May 31st is still a little early. I thought the wildflower blooms ought to still be strong in the foothills, so I suggested that instead we return to the South Yuba River Recreation Area, where we had such a lovely hike last year--although I paid for that one afterwards with severe poison ivy rashes that sent me to the doctor for a prescription.

The South Yuba River Recreation Area is composed of a patchwork of Bureau of Land Management property and land that is part of South Yuba River State Park. It stretches from the historic covered bridge at Bridgeport (photo) to Tahoe National Forest, and is contiguous with Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, presenting plenty of opportunities for hiking, camping, swimming, and gold mining. Yes, limited forms of gold mining are allowed along the stretches of river running through Bureau of Land Management property (but not in the state parks).

Our hike was along the South Yuba River National Trail from one historic bridge, Purdon Crossing, to the next one upstream, Edwards Crossing. To get to Purdon Crossing, we drove to Nevada City, then took North Bloomfield Rd. to the junction with Lake Vera-Purdon Rd., and then took that winding road past Lake Vera to Purdon Crossing. The last stretch was mostly unpaved, and heavily rutted in parts. It was slow going. It's paved road all the way to Edwards Crossing, but I chose to start at Purdon just so we would have more uphill hiking on the way out, and then could have it a little easier on the way back. But there isn't a great deal of difference in elevation between the two river crossings.

20090531 Purdon Crossing, 1895
Purdon Crossing

We parked just short of Purdon Crossing and the short turnoff to the parking area for the trailhead. That wasn't intentional--I didn't realize there was a larger parking area--but it did afford us the opportunity of viewing and photographing the historic bridge.

According to this interesting website, the bridge dates from 1895 and "is the only remaining half-through metal truss system bridge west of the Rocky Mountains." The "half-through" part I believe refers to the fact that the deck of the bridge is set at the vertical midpoint of the metal truss.

20090531 Caterpillar

We hiked up the turnoff to the parking area (no facilities), which had a caterpillar crawling across that we stopped to photograph. From there we were presented with two trail choices, the signed trail to Edwards Crossing, indicating a distance of 4.5 miles, which was quite a bit longer than what I had told Erik from looking at my map, and also a much wider path--maybe an old road--that keeps low along the river. This leads to several swimming spots and a campsite.

We took the South Yuba National Trail, which climbs up the side of the canyon on a narrow path that in the early going had lots of vegetation spilling onto it. Erik loves that, as opposed to the wide open trails, but it was making me nervous after last year's miserable experience with poison oak. And as Erik pointed out, there sure were a lot of plants with leaves in groups of three.

The trail climbs quite a bit above the river, and while we could always hear the South Yuba flowing, we couldn't always see it, although we would catch glimpses now and then. The vegetation was thick, and being on the south side of the canyon, out of direct sunlight for most of the day, it was still quite damp. I'm sure this late in the season that the exposed north side of the canyon was mostly dry. It was also a warm day, with a forecast of 85 degrees for Nevada City, and the combination of warmth and moisture meant there were plenty of mosquitoes, making me doubly glad (in addition to the protection from poison oak) that I had worn pants and long-sleeves.

20090531 Stalking Wildflowers
Erik Stalking Wildflowers

The wildflower display was pretty strong. In hikes past, I would have at least taken a quick photo of each one so that I could have tried to identify them for my hike report, but I'm getting pretty lazy about stopping to photograph wildflowers anymore. We did pause to photograph a few, though.

20090531 Indian Pink
Indian Pink

There were some use trails down to the river at points, and some of these were quite well worn--so much that I would hesitate, wondering which was the main trail. But we just always took the upper trail until reaching the clearly signed junction with the trail coming down from Round Mountain. It didn't have mileages marked, but I would guess that the junction is 2 miles from Purdon Crossing and 2.5 miles from Edwards Crossing.

More Wildflowers

Between that junction and Edwards Crossing, we hit a rocky section that was more exposed, and consequently had better views of the river. We saw a group of 4 kayakers floating below us. At one point, the trail was eroded and we had to be careful stepping over it, as there was a steep drop off at that point.

20090531 Edwards Crossing, 1904
Detail, Edwards Crossing

Eventually we could see the next bridge and the trail started heading down to it. At the trailhead there were many vehicles parked, and a pit toilet. I headed straight across the bridge and climbed down on the rocks to the river to get a picture of the bridge while the light was still coming a little bit from the side, although it was mostly from overhead at that point, and I wasn't too pleased with my shots. Erik took a photo of me in action from the deck of the bridge. According to the aforementioned website, the bridge at Edwards Crossing was built in 1904.

20090531 Next 1.5 Miles
Sign at Edwards Crossing

After making use of the facilities, we started back. This was not anywhere near a difficult hike in comparison to many of the others we have done, but I was anxious to get back to the car, and not looking forward to the long hike. It had been over a month since my last hike, which is an unusually long stretch for me. It was a warm day and I was sweating a lot. And I hadn't told Erik (still haven't, until he reads this), but I was under the weather, and had put my cell phone by my bed the night before so I could call him first thing in the morning to cancel the hike, if need be. I was starting to think that maybe I should have.

But while I felt drained, I just kept plodding on, one step after another until we made it to the car. I didn't stop for photos on the way back, and after carrying the camera in my hand for a while, because the weight on my neck was causing discomfort, I finally tucked the camera away in my backpack. Erik got some interesting shots though, including one of two lizards giving a third lizard a hickey. Either that or they were trying to bite its head off. Peculiar.

So, a question left unanswered at the beginning--with all of that poison oak in the area, and the precautions I took against it, did I end up getting poison oak? Of course. I always get poison oak. This is just the third time this year, after six times last year, but that's mainly due to the fact that I have been hiking less. Fortunately, it appears to be confined to a small patch on my left arm near my wrist, unlike last year's South Yuba River hike, when it was all over me, and I was miserable.

But my next hike is going to be in the Sierras, where Erik wanted to go this time--there's no poison oak above 4,000 feet.