A Travellerspoint blog


Visited a couple of places, then one of the towns where Mom grew up & graduated from HS

sunny 85 °F

Ever since I was a kid, I'd heard Mom's stories about growing up in various places, but especially Petaluma. She graduated from High School there and probably spent more time there then other towns, although her family moved a lot when she was a kid. Anyway, I could recall having ever visited Petaluma myself, so thought it might be fun to give it a look.

Calistoga, where the RV Park is, is at the north end of the Napa Valley. To the west, one mountain range over, is the Sonoma Valley, then after another mountain range is the Santa Rosa/Petaluma area. There are several routes through the mountains (all fairly low, but the roads are quite winding and fairly steep - as in 12% grade in some places!). I decided to take the route that leaves from Calistoga and joins Hwy 101 just north of Santa Rosa. On the way, we decided to stop at the California equivalent of "Old Faithful". I've seen the real "Old Faithful", this one isn't even a distant cousin, but it is quite regular so I guess the name is OK. While we were there it went off about every 5 minutes or so.


When we started to head back to the parking lot, I spotted a red wing blackbird fairly close by in the grass. Usually they take off as soon as I get my camera out, so although I'd seen them several times on the trip, I hadn't been able to get a picture of one until now.


We did get into the car however and headed west over the pass towards Santa Rosa. There are a couple of tourist attractions along the way that I managed to skip, a petrified redwood forest and a 'safari west', might be interesting someday but I've already overscheduled the sightseeing this week so we kept driving. As we got nearer to Santa Rosa however, I did stop at an old (1850's?) place called "Mark West Lodge". It was closed, so we couldn't do much there, but there is a giant grape arbor that covers the road - very historic. (The place is also for sale if anybody has about $2M to invest in a labor of love, not sure it could be made to turn a profit these days.)


Petaluma was an interesting little town. They've done a pretty good job of preserving the historic downtown and many old, victorian buildings. It was used for some of the scenes in "American Graffitti" for that reason. Back in teh 1930's & 1940's when Mom lived there, they specialized in Eggs (they called themselves the Worlds Egg Basket). The Petaluma River was called the Petaluma Slough (the name was changed to "River" in 1959 so they could qualify for gov't funding to dredge it.)

I didn't take too much time to make sure I got good pic's of downtown, this one doesn't show it very well but it's what I got.


The Museum was once the library which was built using Carnegie funds in 1904. The Rotunda is the largest free standing leaded glass dome in northern California.


We were able to use the research library to find a picture of the old Petaluma HS (which is no longer standing) and the 1945 HS yearbook with Mom's Senior Photo. She seemed to enjoy going through the pictures and telling me stories.

(Mom's pic is on the bottom left corner)

We also found pictures of a couple of the grammer schools she attended, which I'll include in the family history I've been working on. (Probably no point to include them in the blog at this point?)

The library was on "B" street, which Mom said was one of the streets they lived on. Since so many of the old homes have been restored & preserved, I drove out a few blocks and sure enough Mom said this was either the house they lived in or one a lot like it.


Also, while driving around looking for the museum, I'd noticed an interesting spot for lunch. This was in the McNear's building, which was built in 1886 using an "iron front" that was painted to look like wood. According to a nice lady also eating lunch here, you could order these from a Sears catalog back then, have them shipped to your location, and voila - build a building!


So again, we're eating too much but having a great time!

Posted by jl98584 22:35 Archived in USA Tagged petaluma

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.