Monday, December 10, 2018

Chicken In A Tree

Sometimes you just see things that make you laugh!  I left WAY too early for the cooking school the last two times, leaving me about 45 minutes to wander about the closest little town of Columbia.  It was founded in 1850 as a boomtown ... the Gem of the Southern Mines.  In other words, GOLD!!!

If you haven't been here, you should stop in, but leave your motorhome home.  All the roads in this area are twisty, curvy and narrow.  They will tell you there are RV parks nearby, but only if you have a small rig.  I came here a couple times as a kid and fell in love.  It's about four blocks long with mostly original buildings.

As I walked the completely deserted streets at 9:00, I heard the call of the wild.  Er er er er ERRRRR.  An echo came back through the trees.  It was loud enough to totally grab my attention.  The search was on.

I honed in on the ERRRRRR and looked up.  There at the top of this huge tree, maybe 50 feet up, was this beauty singing his praises and letting everyone know HE was the boss.  Chicken in a tree.  He's a pretty smart cookie since there are lots of dogs and coyotes in this area.  He is HUGE!  I bet he weights 30 pounds!!
Many moons ago, there were several stores here, including antique shops, ice cream and candy stores, with my favorite pulled taffy.  Nowadays, since the Parks Service has taken control, there are only trinket stores left, along with a couple of hotels and restaurants.  
The Towle and Leavitt building originally sold books and stationery, but later added watches and jewelry.  Thinking his building was completely safe from fire, he wasn't worried when another building went up in flames.  He should have been, because it actually caught the inside on fire.  Luckily, he was able to save most of the watches and jewelry, but he burned his hands badly in the process.  All his books went up in smoke.
I've held several photo shoots here using many of my vintage clothing pieces.  On this day, I even got the Parks Service to let us have full run of the Hotel when it was closed to the public.  Best day EVER!!
In 1854, fire burned down about six blocks, which was quickly rebuilt with brick and metal.  In 1857 another fire burned down everything else except the brick buildings.  

This is the Wilson-McConnell house.  In 1878 James Wilson, a shoe shop proprietor, built this house.  
His wife Rose, completed the house after his death and lived in it until the 1930's.  Mr. McConnell purchased it in 1940 and refurbished it just in time for filming High Noon.
In 1862, Columbia was the first location of a Cinco de Mayo celebration.  Who knew??
At one time there were 8 hotels, 4 banks, 17 general stores, 2 firehouses, 3 churches and over 40 drinking institutions.  Unlike other gold mining towns, Columbia never really became a ghost town
The Columbia City Hotel and Restaurant is still open for visitors if you'd like to spend the night with a ghost or two.  If not, at least go in and ask to see a couple of rooms.  It's a fabulous place to visit.
Over 100 movies and televisions series have been filmed here, including the Lone Ranger, Death Valley Days, High Noon and the Cimarron Kid.  Pale Rider rode through here as did Behind the Mask of Zorro.  
Check it out .... look for the biggest chicken ever sitting in the tree (a rooster actually) and have some ice cream while visualizing what it was like in the REALLY old days.  Best to go early in the morning before the crowds.


  1. Love your chicken in a tree. Looks like w wonderful old town to visit and relive some of its past would be fun.

    1. Not the best picture of the chicken, but he sure was the find of the day!!

  2. Chicken in a Tree, huh, who would ever think? Love the town story of Columbia. You did photo shoots? Maybe I knew that and forgot. Love the picture of the young gal in white. :)

    1. Yeah, I used to do lots of photo shoots from the Sierras to Las Vegas and back. Even did one on Alcatraz and a couple in San Francisco. It's lots of fun. One of these days I'll show some of those images.

  3. I wonder how they had such big fires inside town without lighting up the hills surrounding the town? Someone needs to look into this and implement that into today's thinking... I have visited Columbia a few times, it is a nice old western town. I simply LOVE highway 49, but you are right...not in a Motorhome or even pulling a large trailer/5th wheel in many places.

    1. No idea how the forest survived, but the town definitely went down in flames a few times. It's just a fun little town to visit.

  4. Maybe there were too many Hens in the house and the rooster flew the coop. LOL.
    Nice story about the town.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. I think you are right Rick. I'm guessing he escaped. Too bad though because all the hens are locked up!!