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Archive for the tag “County Courthouses”

Climbing to Mariposa

March 31, 2019

The Scenic Route to Mariposa

If someone were ever to write the Great California Epic they might wisely choose Mariposa as the central setting, for Mariposa, near the entrance to the great Yosemite valley, is the navel of the Golden State. All California life seems to flow from this place like water from a spring.

Mariposa is nestled in the foothills of California’s central Sierra Nevada Mountains, just outside the boundaries of Yosemite National Park. To get here, start from the San Joaquin Valley raisin towns of Fresno or Madera on a clear March morning (as I did, back in March 2016). Then, put away the road map and turn on Google Maps. Change the settings to “avoid highways” and follow the roads uphill. Here’s what your climb will look like:

Climbing above the San Joaquin Valley (Madera County, California)
Country road, Madera County
Isolated ranch hours, Madera County

Entering Mariposa County:

Old Farm house, Mariposa County
Oak Trees, ranches, and Sierra spring run-off

The climb gets steeper as you get higher into the Sierra, but the grass is still as green as if it were Ireland.

Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa County, California
Spring freshet, Mariposa County

The road twists around granite boulders as you climb higher into the mountains.

Mariposa County

Finally, you arrive.

Downtown Mariposa, California along the “Central Yosemite Highway”

I remember coming up to Mariposa for the first time back in the 90s with my then girlfriend. She pointed out that Mariposa means “butterfly” in Spanish. She knew of what she spoke.

Mariposa, California

Mariposa is an old gold mining town and the seat of Mariposa County. The old courthouse was built in 1854, was the scene of some landmark mining cases, and is still in use today. It’s the oldest county courthouse in the state of California. It may be even older than the two Sequoia trees which guard the front entrance.

Mariposa County Courthouse.
Mariposa County Courthouse

The courthouse has only one courtroom. Portraits of Lincoln and Jefferson are the only adornment on the wall behind the Judge’s seat, which is odd considering that judges, lawyers, and juries were meeting here before Abraham Lincoln was even elected President. I’m told that the old stove still provides primary heating for the courtroom.

Main courtroom, Mariposa County Courthouse

Mariposa County was once huge, covering most of central California but has since been carved into many other counties. Its namesake butterflies that are actually only found in the San Joaquin Valley below the mountains, now part of other counties.

Want to stay in town? The 5th Street Inn looks nice.

5th Street Inn, Mariposa, California
Christian Science Church, Mariposa

Here’s where the locals eat — the Pizza Factory. It was busy when I was there. Good food, spacious seating. Here policemen, firemen, and other local residents enjoy a respite from seasonal tourists.

(Mariposa) Pizza Factory

Just to remind you that you’re still in America, there’s this:

9-11 Memorial, Mariposa, California

All photos taken by the author. Photos were taken in March, 2016.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

Kingman, Arizona — Caravans of Cars and Camels

February 24, 2019

Even though the month of January has turned into the month of February, it remains the year 2019 and so my 2019 New Years’ “Goals”, or Resolutions, still apply. One post per month I resolved — I wrote down the goal on paper and even worse, I posted my intentions on Facebook. Now that promise is forever on the internet, and there can be no excuses. So herewith the February 2019 installment featuring an old friend — warm, sunny Kingman, Arizona.

Welcome to Kingman, Arizona

I’d seen Kingman several times before. Kingman is a crossroads.  Looking eastward from Los Angeles (where I lived during the 1980s) Kingman is the gateway to the rest of the country. I drove through Kingman to get to the Grand Canyon, Amarillo, Kentucky and to my parents’ home back in Pittsburgh. If you’re travelling north and south instead of east and west, the long desert highway that is US 93 intersects the I-40 in Kingman, about halfway between Las Vegas and Phoenix. 

At first I saw the town as a hot, dusty Arizona truck stop, but I wasn’t the first caravan to come through.

Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale, commanding a caravan of camels, blazed a wagon route through Northern Arizona Territory back in 1857-58. Beale Street in Kingman is named for him. (But apparently not Beale Street in Memphis. Wikipedia has Beale’s resume.)

Beale is remembered here:

Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, 1822-1893. Pioneer in the Path of Empire. Hero of the War with Mexico. Lieutenant in the United States Navy. Appointed General by the Governor of California. Commanded exploration of wagon route to the Colorado River with the only camel train in American history, 1857-1858.

Beale’s wagon route soon became a railroad route. Mining sprang up in Kingman and then receded. As cars followed trains, Route 66 followed the railroad route, then Interstate 40 replaced US 66. Even with the mines gone, Kingman is forever a crossroads and will never disappear.

An old Santa Fe locomotive in town park

Unless you get off the Interstate you won’t notice the snow-covered rocky cliffs above the historic buildings along old Route 66. Kingman has a few nostalgic hotels here, some old bars and so forth.  The Beale Street Brews coffee house brings life to this street, along with the Red Neck Pit BBQ next door (now Floyd and Company Real Pit BBQ). Here are a few buildings and street scenes:

Snow-speckled mountains above old Route 66 in Kingman
The old Kingman Club (I wonder if Jack Kerouac drank here?)
The old Brunswick Hotel (now “Hotel Brunswick Suites”) Route 66, Kingman

A few blocks off Beale Street the Mohave County Courthouse stands like a Roman temple above the forum.  Built in 1914 of local gray stone, it emerges behind a line of tall, thick juniper trees.  The trees are three stories high; the courthouse is only two but the cupola adds maybe another story and a half.  The building stands at the top of Fourth Street, looking down on Kingman from above – a good place from which to administer Justice. 

Mohave County Superior Court, Kingman, Arizona

As the courthouse was built in 1914, it’s likely that the front statue was added a few years afterward, following the end of World War I. This particular design — a doughboy holding a hand grenade aloft in his right hand — is a common design for World War I memorials seen throughout the country.

World War I Memorial

Finally, some more examples of old stone construction:

Mohave County Health Department (old building, scenic view)
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Kingman

I hope you enjoyed Kingman and are enjoying your February. March is just around the corner…

All photos by the author. Photos were taken in February, 2010, except for the courthouse photos which are from October, 2005.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

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