Wagons Ho! Those two simple words won the west. Thousands of Americans traveled across country to find their fortunes in gold. Grueling days under the penetrating sun, inhaling dust, facing dangers beyond what we can imagine today, didn”t dampen their spirits. Gold! A fever to find that elusive fortune brought miners to California by the thousands. Some came by wagon train, some through the Isthmus of Panama when it was still a jungle, and others sailed around the Horn. Sailors abandoned ships in San Francisco Harbor, leaving a graveyard of useless sailing vessels. Sails made great tents in the Sierra Mountains.
My hubby and I live in California”s Sierra Mountains where the 1849 gold rush happened. There are still relics found in the wild, romantic town of Placerville, which was called Dry Diggins and Hangtown during that time. Tunnels twist and turn under the town”s streets, Victorian homes are scattered throughout the surrounding hills, several buildings that housed saloons back then still share the history in their interiors, and a Chinese bordello building is now a business office. My favorite building is The Cary House, a hotel built in 1857 which is still functioning as a popular hotel. I used this four-story brick hotel in my first story, NIGHT ANGEL. We still have staged gunfights during festivals and a wagon train that comes over the Sierras replicating the most popular way of heading west. At Christmastime, we have Doc Weiser drive an old Wells Fargo stagecoach through town, giving rides to visitors. Doc secures a Christmas tree on top of the coach and delights both residents and visitors. How could I not have become obsessed with sharing all of this history with my readers? The information is everywhere and I can”t get enough of it.
My great, great grandfather, Charles Kirkpatrick, was one of those men who traveled by wagon train from St. Joseph, Missouri to California. He was a doctor and his plan was not to dig for the gold, but to set up a medical practice. He kept a 45 page journal along the way and it is now sealed in a glass case in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. My Mother was able to get a copy of the journal and I consider it a great family treasure. He gave me a lot of information that guided me on my own wagon train ride west in my story Marriage Bargain.
Now, let my family”s rich history be your first step into a past full of adventure and, as always, what is life without a whole lot of romance. Come ride the trails with me and I”ll guarantee you the ride of a lifetime! I”d love to hear your stories on keepsakes you”ve inherited from your ancestors and what they mean to you.
Stop by and leave a comment. I”m giving away a copy (in electronic format) of Night Angel, the first story in my Paradise Pines Series, to one of my visitors.
In Night Angel, sassy Amalie Renard, a poker-playing saloon singer, shakes up Paradise Pines, a former gold-rush mountain community by turning the saloon’s bar into her stage. Her amazing voice stirs the passions of the hotel owner, a man who anonymously travels tunnels at night providing help to the downtrodden as the mysterious Night Angel. Declan Grainger agrees to subsidize the building of a music hall to fulfill Amalie”s dream, but a bounty for her arrest could spoil his plans. Distrust and jealousy stir flames of malice and revenge threatening to destroy their town. Drawing from past experiences, Declan and Amalie turn to each other to find a way to save the community.
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