Saturday, November 13, 2021

Wildcat Station

Originally, this little town's name was Wildcat Station.  In 1886 when the first Post Office was opened, the name was changed to Raymond, but no one knows WHICH Raymond it was named for.  It could be Israel Ward Raymond, a park Commissioner who helped preserve Yosemite Valley.  It could be T. Raymond of Raymond and Whitcomb Travel Association in San Francisco, or maybe Walter Raymond, of the same Travel Association from Boston.  He founded the Raymond Hotel in Pasadena, and procured funds from his father, a stockholder in the Santa Fe Railroad, to build another hotel here.

When the little town was dedicated, the residents asked Walter Raymond if he would cut the ribbon.  That happened in 1886 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came to town.

All of the buildings standing are original.  They are positioned rather far apart sideways, since everything else has burned down at one time or another.    

They are also positioned rather far apart in front, since the railroad went right down the middle of town.  There's not much information on these buildings, but residents still have a cold one here, in the Shaw Brothers General Merchandise Store, now called the Frontier Bar.  If you want to take a walk back in time, just enter this building and go back to 1891. 

Or maybe check out the Raymond General Store, established in 1890.  You find will that this town is one of the very few NOT built for the gold rush, but strictly for tourism.

This is the original homestead house built by Charles Miller, the first Stagecoach Agent and Southern Pacific Railroad Agent who came here to promote early travel to Yosemite.  This house is now the museum, but sadly ... closed on this day.

That's the house on the far left.  As you can see, the train right of way came right through the middle of town.  This is where hundreds of people got off the train, to load up on stage coaches for the long dusty ride to Yosemite Valley.  

About right here, this guy began to talk to me.  I'm sure he had a message ... something like get the heck out of my territory!!  We conversed for maybe five minutes before he flew off.

Besides being a tourist hub, Raymond was the commerce center for the local ranchers, farmers and loggers who got all of their supplies by train.  This is also how the Raymond Granite Quarry got their White Sierra granite to San Francisco.  Here are the remaining two railroad ties still where they were laid in the 1890's.  Sadly, surround by a cemetery fence .... rather appropriate I guess.

From Raymond, you can follow the old stage coach road into Yosemite, the same one Theodore Roosevelt took with John Muir when they visited the park.  That trip convinced Roosevelt to preserve the park forever, making it a National Park.  Drive slow ... the roads may be paved (kinda sorta) ... but they follow the contours of the land, meaning sharp curves and not much room for two cars to pass.

Although showing it's age today, this is a race horse starting gate.  Room for two.  This being the only relative flat spot around, horse races were held along the railroad bed in the 40's and 50's.  I'm sure there was lots of whooping and hollering, along with some money passed around.

This was the mystery of the day.  It was definitely a beautiful building back in the early days.  Looks like it's made from lots of that granite which is still standing, although almost taken over by trees and brush.  It is across the side street from the Post Office, and I have yet to find out what it was.  I'll work on that more today and see what I can come up with.  I'm guessing maybe a bank?  It's HUGE, that's for sure.

There's still more to this trip ... getting lost, that sort of thing.  When you have no phone service to check your GPS map and all the roads are just numbers (like Road 600), it's easy to lose your way.  I don't remember going this way as a teenage truck driver but I DO remember the really cute cowboy that showed up at the ranch to help us gather cattle!!  Yup I remember EVERYTHING about Eddie.

This is probably the last sunset of the year in Central California since the fog has rolled in by the ton.  I was lucky on this trip that I was just above the foggy level.  That part I remember well, driving a truckload of cattle down a steep hill as I looked out over the valley, completely obscured by cotton candy fog.  That was only surpassed by the tarantulas we brought home with us.  More on that tomorrow.


  1. Quite the interesting area, you can almost imagine what it was like back in the day.

    1. Really hard to believe it's still there ... that anyone is still in business. I guess the locals keep it going.

  2. I have to wonder if my Great-Grandfather, as a SP Conductor, ever pulled in there. I know he was on the Santa Cruz run near the end of his career, but he also went up to Oregon where he met his wife and where my Grandfather was born. You just have to wonder...

    1. Could very possibly be he worked there. It's beautiful country.


  3. The building that you’re looking at that you think might be a bank? May I suggest you call the post office in Raymond California The abandoned building is at Raymond rd and school St. across from the post office That would be my first bet second that would’ve been called the museum
    My uneducated guess would be the name of the road being school Street might be the hint of what that building is. ???

    1. That's very possible. The museum is closed temporarily ... I hope not forever. I did think of calling the Post Office ... I'll do that this next week. Yup could have been a school!

  4. To Michael Behrens who commented on this blog ... It showed up twice, and when I deleted one of them, they both disappeared. Thank you for the information. I'll definitely look up that program about the stone building. I did call the Post Office who said it was a grocery store and gas station that burned down. What a magnificent building it must have been. Sad they don't rebuilt it.