Our attraction to the American West is tied to our distaste for boundaries. The mythology of the west speaks to that part of ourselves that searches out spaces not weighed down by concrete buildings or corporate institutions. This is what early California promised its settlers. Huell learns about some of the early Californians who chose to make their home here.
Monday - May 17, 7:30pm: Fern Canyon - Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is a 14,000 acre sanctuary of old growth coast redwoods, which offers hiking, nature study, wildlife viewing, beach combing, and picnicking. On this trip, Huell hikes to Fern Canyon, one of the most enchanting locations in the park.
Tuesday - May 18, 7:30pm: China Camp - Huell visits China Camp State Park, located on San Francisco Bay. One visitor was kind enough to offer us a bike tour of the grounds.
The park is more than just a nature preserve. The spot was once a thriving Chinese shrimping village in the late-nineteenth century. Huell learns about the rich history of the men and women who left the comfort of one continent for the possibilities of another.
Wednesday - May 19, 7:30pm: Underground Old Sacramento - Sacramento has a unique feature that many residents are unaware of: A city underneath a city. Huell Howser goes below the city of Sacramento to explore the remaining historic sidewalks, doorways and building relics that were all part of the original downtown area before flooding moved the entire city upstairs one level. Here is vintage footage of (aboveground) Old Sacramento:
The underground walkways that wind below our capital's surface are so restricted that even finding a YouTube clip of the area has proved challenging. But when it comes to Huell, nothing in California is off-limits.
Thursday - May 20, 7:30pm: Leo Carrillo Ranch - Once owned by Hollywood actor Leo Carrillo, Rancho de Los Kiotes allowed Carrillo to escape the hustle and bustle of Hollywood where he filmed The Cisco Kid. In this scene, Pancho, played by Carrillo, and the Cisco Kid, approach the U.S.-Mexico border and muse on the significance of the lines that separate nations, and on how the invisible divides can hold so much weight in the world.
The 27 acres historic park contains and protects many of the original historic structures and outbuildings associated with Leo Carrillo's use of the ranch. This beautiful ranch eventually fell off the radar until a group of concerned citizens stepped in. Now a historic park, the ranch is filled with early California history and even a couple of strutting peacocks.
Friday - May 21, 7:30pm: Parmount Ranch - Huell looks back at sixty plus years of film history when he visits the Paramount Ranch. It has doubled as Tombstone, Arizona, Dodge City, Kansas and has stood in for the rolling hills of Montana and the dusty streets of Laredo. Movie-goers have been fooled into mistaking it for the Royal Gorge of Colorado, the Ozark Mountains, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tom Sawyer's Missouri. Producers have even passed it off as 13th century China, colonial Salem, and the island of Java. Doris Day serenades to scenes from Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman filmed on location at the ranch.
Sunday - May 23, 7:00pm: Stanford Mansion - At one time it was home to one of California’s most important and powerful families. Entrepreneur Leland Stanford opened California up to the trains, overseeing a portion of development of the "First Transcontinental Railroad"; founded a still-celebrated academic institution; and encouraged Eadweard Muybridge's ability to turn pictures into moving pictures. Here is a piece by Muybridge that depicts Stanford's son riding, and a man, perhaps Stanford himself, running behind.
Sunday - May 23, 7:30pm: Eugene O'Neill House - America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill, chose to live in the hills above Danville, California at the height of his writing career. Isolated from the world and within the walls of his home called Tao House, O'Neill wrote his final and most memorable plays; The Iceman Cometh, A Moon for the Misbegotten and Long Day's Journey Into Night. Here, Al Pacino performs Hickey's dark monologue from The Iceman Cometh.