Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues
This book is only partly related to Donner Summit but it’s history and it’s about the Sierra so the editorial staff thought it would be appropriate. The preface says it well, this collection of stories is about the people of the Sierra – the “tales of magnificent and tragic human endeavors in the Sierra – stories of measured optimism and overwhelming disappointment; renewal and re-invention; the chronicles of folks seeking a better life, and those who were just stuck.” These are not the well-known stories but rather “obscure accounts that bypassed the history books and became tangled in the shadows.” Sierra Stories “releases them from the dark the forgotten recesses of history.”
As such it’s a fun read. Each of the 32 stories is a couple of pages long so the book could keep you happy for an entire month at one story a night before bed. Along with each story there is a shorter “Sierra Spotlight” highlighting another person from Sierra history related to the subject of the preceding story.
In the wider view the stories cover a lot of material such as: Lotta Crabtree, treatment of Indians, camels, African Americans, Chinese, movies made in the Sierra, treatment of the Chinese, Suffragists, Redwood trees, flume riding, Sacagawea’s son, rich people, and some famous artists.
For Donner Summit purists, there are stories related to Donner Summit: Moses Schallenberger, Lola Montez, Theodore Judah and the railroad, the 1911 Arthur Foote trip over the Sierra by auto, and Charlie Chaplin’s "Gold Rush."
It’s an eclectic collection which will fill out your knowledge of Sierra history.
Gary Noy, 2014 217 pages