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Monterey County History Digest

A Private Calif. Ranch Holds Important State History — And It Might Be in Danger


Some residents fear development could destroy parts of the historic land.

Western Flyer Artifacts to be Sold


Original parts from the storied Western Flyer still held by the previous owner are to be sold.

Western Flyer Foundation Releases New Video


Foundation debuts a new informational video about the Western Flyer boat, narrated by actor and comedian Nick Offerman, about the history of the 83-year old fishing vessel featured in John Steinbeck's “The Log from the Sea of Cortez.” View the full video at WesternFlyer.org.

San Francisco Set to Apologize to Black Residents for ‘Systemic Racism’


Members of the board gathered to put forward a resolution that takes responsibility for the history of discrimination against Black San Franciscans.

Was L.A.’s Ellen Beach Yaw the Proto-Taylor Swift?


She toured the world wowing audiences, and she captured the public’s imagination for decades. No, not Taylor Swift; Ellen Beach Yaw, also known as Lark Ellen.

New ‘Toothless’ Walrus Discovered Along California Coast


An extinct species of walrus was unearthed in Santa Cruz County, evoking a time when California was teeming with odd creatures that feel closer to fantasy than reality, researchers said.

James Dean Made His Last Stop at This Lonely Gas Station


James Dean’s last stop before he died in a car crash was at Blackwell’s Corner, a gas station in rural Kern County. His memory isn’t the draw it once was.

‘Just the Beginning’: California Reparations Backers Applaud Bills, Even Without Big Cash Payouts


Lawmakers introduced a package of bills designed to tackle some forms of reparations. The measures may face budget constraints and opposition.

California Lawmakers Unveiled 14 Reparations Bills. None Call for Cash Payments


The California Legislative Black Caucus released a list of 14 bills as a first set of reparations for the descendants of African Americans who were enslaved.

Iconic California Restaurant Closes Without Warning


Pea Soup Andersen’s, a Buellton, Calif., restaurant just shy of its 100th birthday, closed suddenly. The restaurant's other location, near Interstate 5 in Santa Nella, remains open.

American Graffiti is Back: Cruising Now Legal Again in California, But So Are Speed Cameras


Under new state laws, five cities will test cameras to catch speeding drivers and cruising bans will be lifted statewide. The first is supposed to improve road safety, but critics of the second say it will endanger the public.

California Presses Universities to Return Thousands of Native American Remains and Artifacts to Local Tribes


State audits of the University of California and the California State University found both systems have failed to comply with decades-old state and federal laws mandating the return of Native ancestral remains and cultural artifacts. Only UCLA and Cal State Long Beach have returned a majority of their collections.

Tribe Acquires Vast Land in Northern California, Will Remove Dams


The Hoopa Valley Tribe announced it is acquiring about 10,000 acres of land in Northern California for $14.1 million. As part of this, the tribe will remove dams along the Klamath River and restore salmon runs.

Who Gets the Water in California? Whoever Gets There First.


Water fights have shaped California since its infancy as a state, when its abundance seemed limitless. Now, Californians are being forced to confront limitations, and the state that prides itself on creating the future is now reckoning with its past.

Native American Tribe to Get Back 40 Acres of Land from State


The Fort Independence Indian Community is getting the Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at no cost in 2024. Native Americans had lived on this land for centuries before the hatchery’s construction.

California vs. Florida: Need-to-Know Facts About the Rival States Ahead of Newsom-DeSantis Showdown


Political wonks in California, Florida and maybe a few states in between, will be glued to their screens Thursday night to watch Gov. Gavin Newsom and Gov. Ron Desantis square off in a highly-anticipated Blue vs. Red State debate that’s been brewing since the summer.

Hundreds to Gather at Alcatraz at Sunrise on Thanksgiving


Hundreds of people are expected at Alcatraz on Thanksgiving morning to commemorate Native Americans occupying the island from 1969-71. The event is known as the Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Gathering.

Capitol Gets its First Monument to California’s Indigenous Population


A statue of Miwok elder William J. Franklin has been installed on California State Capitol grounds. The monument replaces a statue of Father Junípero Serra, which protestors toppled in 2020.

UC Berkeley to Relinquish More Than 4,000 Ancestral Remains


Tribes like the Muwekma Ohlone have been asking UC Berkeley for decades to give back ancestral remains from burial sites around the Bay Area. The school is in the process of repatriating 4,400 remains and 25,000 tribal items.

Remembering Robert Irwin: Influential Artist Dies at 95


Robert Irwin, an artist and MacArthur genius grant recipient, died in San Diego at 95 on Oct. 25. Michael Govan, who heads the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, offers a colorful retrospective on Irwin's work.

Two Disneyland Voices Are Moving On


Camille Dixon, the announcer for Disney California Adventure, and her husband, Bill Rogers, the voice of Disneyland, are moving on from this work. They have been at the parks for more than 40 years combined.

Food, Race, Empacadoras, and Everything in Between


Looking at a dearth of accessible textbooks reflecting the diversity of Chicano/Latino/Mexican American/Latinx lives, two local professors set out to write one.

Moss Landing Power Plant Being Demolished, But Smoke Stacks Will Stay


The Moss Landing power plant is becoming a thing of the past, and that has many wondering what will become of the landmark twin smokestacks that can be seen for miles along the Central Coast.

California’s Wildfire Smoke and Climate Change: 4 Things You Need to Know


California wildfires every year emit as much carbon as almost 2 million cars, posing a threat to efforts to battle climate change.

Ancient Fires Drove Large Mammals Extinct, Study Suggests


In a new study published Aug. 17 in the journal Science, fossil records at La Brea Tar Pits indicate that the disappearance of California’s sabertooth cats, dire wolves and other large mammals nearly 13,000 years ago was linked to rising temperatures and fire activity spurred by people.

Big Expectations


Ritchie Lovejoy wrote a novel more than 80 years ago, and he was able to do it because of John Steinbeck’s faith in his talent. That novel, “Taku Wind,” finally got published last month, albeit in a very limited edition—24 copies.

California Caste Discrimination Bill Stays Alive


The first-in-the-nation measure to add caste to state anti-discrimination laws, which passed the state Senate, survives the Assembly judiciary committee. The bill’s author refused to water down the measure further.

Is California Trying to Revive a 1910 Labor Board to Avoid Fast Food Industry Referendum?


An obscure 1910s-era labor board once regulated everything from canneries to film sets to sheep farms. Why is California trying to bring it back now?

California Private Colleges Fear SCOTUS Ban on Affirmative Action Ahead of Ruling


With a conservative Supreme Court expected to rule this summer in favor of ending or restricting affirmative action in college admissions, California’s private universities are worried about the potential impact on campus diversity. College administrators are revamping admissions and doing more high school outreach, while student activists are campaigning against a potential ban.

150th Anniversary: How Levi’s Could Have Been Called Jacob’s


You might be surprised at how long it’s been since Levi’s were made in America.

Billions and Billions Served: McDonald’s Turns 75


Dick and Mac McDonald came to California to seek opportunities in the movie business and wound up owning a drive-in BBQ restaurant in San Bernardino. On May 15, 1948, they opened their revamped restaurant with a Speedee Service System featuring hamburgers.

Human Remains Found in Central Valley Appear to be Historic Native American


Experts say human remains found by a farmworker in Kings County appear to come from a historic or prehistoric Native American and officials are looking for help to inter them properly.


History Row
Natural history, state history, and cultural history combine to make Monterey County remarkable.
Old Sacramento Historic District Sacramento is an open-air museum of historic buildings.
Capital Collections
Sacramento’s rich past can be explored by visiting its many and varied historical museums.
Access to abortion in California is limited in many areas, though state laws protect a woman’s right to choose.
Abortion Rights in California, Explained
But even in California, access to abortion services in many areas remains limited.
California continues to work on legislation that would make voting easier.
Voting Rites
And more bills are on the way to help you make your mark on Election Day.
Over two weekends last October, residents of Santa Cruz and Watsonville  participated in demonstration rides aboard an electric streetcar on rails.
The ‘Rail Trail’ Movement, Explained
The heated controversy over what to do with abandoned railroad tracks
California transportation history runs from railroads to today’s car culture.
California’s History of Transportation: From Railroads to Highways
The history of transportation in California has shaped the state, from the earliest stagecoach to today’s car culture.
The California mental health crisis is tied to both homelessness and rising crime.
UPDATE: California’s Mental Health Crisis: How We Got Here
The making of Gov. Newsom's plan to help get mentally ill Californians into treatment.
Like ripples in a pond, the hip impulse moved through Santa Cruz and beyond, and continues across generations.
How Did Santa Cruz Get So Hip?
Looking back at the Sixties and Seventies in America's Hippest Little City.
Moss Landing in Monterey Bay is the world’s largest battery storage facility for solar and other renewable energy.
Solar Power and California’s Clean Energy Goals
How the sun is helping push the state toward 100 percent renewable energy.
From nitrates to arsenic to “forever chemicals,” California’s water supply faces a serious pollution threat.
Dirty Water: California Faces a Water Contamination Crisis
In a state that declares water a “human right,” more than 2 percent of its residents have no drinkable water.
A 1911 production of “Twelfth Night” at the Forest Theater.
Arts History
Performing arts centers, galleries, theater troupes, music festivals and more.
The California Supreme Court has defined the state’s legal and political agenda for more than 170 years.
How the California Supreme Court Blazes Legal Trails
From its beginnings in the Gold Rush, the state Supreme Court continues to define the state today.
Among the events commemorated by E Clampus Vitus is the founding of the group’s first California chapter.
Atlas Absurdum
More than 1,400 markers across the state point the way to the past.
How California reclamation districts turned millions of acres of wetlands into fertile agricultural land, starting in the earliest days of the Gold Rush.
Reclamation Districts: Turning ‘Swamps’ Into Farmland
From its earliest days as a state, California has been trying to turn marshes into productive land.
Since the Gold Rush era, land reclamation has cost California 90 percent of its wetlands.
How Land Reclamation Hurts California’s Environment
The hidden price tag of “reclaiming” swamps and marshes as usable land.
Translated from the Greek, “Democracy” means “people power.” How much power do the people have in California?
People Power! What Is Democracy, and How Does It Work in California?
The Goddess of Democracy is alive and well in California, but that hasn’t always been true.
The Baldwin Hills area in South Los Angeles is one region where a state conservancy would keep open land accessible to the public.
California’s 10 State Conservancies: How They Protect Parks and Open Land
Starting in 1976, the legislature began creating agencies to buy up open land, and keep it open.
The 1965 law known as the Williamson Act has been responsible for keeping about half of California's farmland out of the hands of developers.
The Williamson Act: How the Law That Protects California’s Farmland Works
More than half of California farmland is under contracts that prevent its development.
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