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It began back in 1941 when it was known as Camp Cooke and served as a U.S. Army training facility for tanks and infantry troops. With the advent of the missile age in the 1950s, the land was transferred to the U.S Air Force for use as a missile training base. The first missile was launched from this facility in 1958 and since then almost 2,000 missiles and space boosters have followed suit.

Located on our state's central coast near the town of Lompoc, Vandenberg AFB is not only the U.S. Air Force's third largest installation, but an important part of our state's and nation's space history. In this episode of "California's Gold," host Huell Howser visits Vandenberg for a first-hand look at this huge base which covers over 98,000 acres and is literally filled with reminders and remnants of our space heritage.

Huell is taken on a tour that includes stops at sites of the first satellite launches from California, and an early Thor missile launch facility that is now listed as a National Historic Landmark because it is one of the best and most intact surviving examples of 1950s space technology. Huell also visits Altas missile sites, an underground Titan missile site and the Space and Missile Heritage Center filled with space and missile artifacts. The adventure ends with a look at some of the state-of-the-art facilities and hardware which today are making history and breaking new ground in the space field. Vandenberg AFB continues to be an important and, in fact, vital part of our space program and, as we discover on this visit, it is also a fine example of "California's Gold."

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The miracle of the Swallows of Capistrano takes place each year at the Mission San Juan Capistrano on March 19th, St. Joseph's Day. Legend says the swallows, seeking sanctuary from an innkeeper who destroyed their nests, took up residence at the old Mission. They return to the site each year to nest, knowing their young can be safe within the Mission walls.

  • 2017-05-22T12:00:00-07:00

Sequoia Black History

Huell joins the centennial celebration of Colonel Charles Young's tenure as superintendent at Sequoia National Park. Young led his "Buffalo Soldiers" during a historic summer working in the second national park ever created in the United States. Young discovered and named a majestic Giant Sequoia after an individual that inspired and influenced his life, Booker T. Washington. After nearly 100 years, this tree has been rediscovered and stands as a monument to both Colonel Charles Young and Booker T. Washington.

  • 2017-05-22T12:30:00-07:00
  • 2017-05-27T11:30:00-07:00


Have you ever wondered what 100,000 Monarch Butterflies look like? Well here's your chance. Huell travels to Pismo State Beach to visit the largest overwintering site for Monarch butterflies in the U.S. More people visit this site than any another butterfly site in the world. Last year they had 50,000 visitors! Every year hundreds of thousands of Monarchs fly as much as two thousand miles to reach safe overwintering sites along California's central coast. They can fly up to one hundred miles a day at an altitude of up to ten thousand feet.

  • 2017-05-23T12:00:00-07:00


Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps at which Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II. It is located at the foot of the imposing Sierra Nevadas in the Owens Valley. Huell Howser is joined by experts and internees to learn about the camp's complex history. And although little remains of the camp itself, Huell discovers a permanent reminder of the internees' detention--their names etched in concrete.

  • 2017-05-24T12:00:00-07:00


Huell is off to Stanford University to learn about Eadweard Muybridge and his ground breaking photographs of animal locomotion. With the financial help of wealthy Leland Stanford, a former California Governor and founder of Stanford University, Muybridge used multiple cameras to capture innovative images of animals in motion. His venture, which would make contributions to art and science, began in 1872 at Stanford's horse farm in Palo Alto the future site of Stanford University.

  • 2017-05-24T12:31:00-07:00

Buried Treasures

Explore the coastal town of Guadalupe, in Santa Barbara County, where the massive set from Cecil B. De Mille's silent film epic, The Ten Commandments," is buried; journey to the Sierra County mining town of Alleghany and descend cavernous tunnels, 2200 feet below, for an adventure in search of gold.

  • 2017-05-25T12:00:00-07:00

Masonic Cave

Huell's off to Amador county and the town of Volcano. It was once a thriving, gold mining town in the 1850s and 1860s, but Huell has set off to discover the mysterious cave in this mountain community which served as a Masonic lodge.

  • 2017-05-25T12:30:00-07:00

Pismo Clams

Huell travels to Pismo Beach -- 10 miles south of San Luis Obispo -- and learns how its famous clams, plentiful in the region at the turn of the century, branded an identity for one of the last classic California beach towns.

  • 2017-05-29T12:00:00-07:00


Huell learns about California's early logging industry during a visit to Scotia, located 30 miles south of Eureka on Highway 101 in Humboldt County. Scotia may be the last true company town in America. It was founded as a logging camp in 1883 and is still the home of the Pacific Lumber Company.

  • 2017-05-29T12:30:00-07:00

Santa Barbara Island

Travel to Santa Barbara Island, one of the eight Channel Islands, to learn about the history and nature of this beautiful place from its only human resident-a ranger. Huell actually walks the perimeter of this island to get a feel for this seldom seen part of the Golden State.

  • 2017-05-30T12:00:00-07:00

Ships in a Bottle

Huell's off to the Maritime Museum of San Diego to learn about building ships in a bottle, an art form believed to have originated in the 18th century. These tiny masterpieces are also important pieces of Maritime history.

  • 2017-05-30T12:30:00-07:00

Santa Rosa Island

  • 2017-05-31T12:00:00-07:00

Things Beside The Road

In this program, a 49er RV park, an air museum, and the Eureka elk catch Huell's eye. And, he just has to pull off the road to check them out.

  • 2017-05-31T12:30:00-07:00


Huell visits the historic lumber and railroad town of McCloud, located at the foot of Mt. Shasta, California's second highest mountain. Included in this adventure is a trip on the famous McCloud railroad, a visit to the local swimming hole located in a magnificent natural setting and a tour of the town and its quaint, old buildings.

  • 2017-06-01T12:00:00-07:00

San Juan Bautista

A century ago, it was the hub of Northern California -- a crossroads where over the years you would have encountered gentle Mutsune Indians, hard-working Franciscan padres, fierce outlaws and a host of other fascinating characters. Located just three miles off busy Highway 101 in San Benito County, today the town has somehow managed to maintain the look and feel of "old California." Mission San Juan Bautista dominates the landscape. The largest of the old Spanish mission churches in our state, it sits on a huge grassy area -- the only remaining Spanish plaza in California.

  • 2017-06-02T12:00:00-07:00

Oil Workers

  • 2017-06-02T12:30:00-07:00

California Zephyr

Huell revisits the California Zephyr, a magnificent train which traveled between Chicago and Oakland from 1949 to 1970. Huell climbs aboard one of the original restored silver "Vista-Dome" cars and travels through some of the most spectacular scenery in the state, heading west from Lake Tahoe. Huell shares the ride with a group of people who worked on and rode the original Zephyr.

  • 2017-06-05T12:30:00-07:00

Rain Bird

Rain Bird - In this episode of California's Gold, Huell explores the history of Rain Bird, a sprinkler manufacturer with a remarkable history beginning with a Glendora citrus farmer named Orton Englehart, who invented the first impact sprinklers in the 1930s. Rain Bird also demonstrates their latest in sprinkler technology.

  • 2017-06-06T12:00:00-07:00


Some people like it -- to others, it's a nuisance. Something "to come in out of." But like it or not, everyone would agree it's been a part of the history of California since the very beginning. We're talking about wind. And on this particular adventure, host Huell Howser goes in search of some of the most historic and strongest wind around. First stop is the back lot of the famous Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank where Huell takes a look at some wind machines used in movie production, and learns they've been a part of our movie legacy since the very early silent films.

  • 2017-06-07T12:30:00-07:00
  • 2017-06-10T11:30:00-07:00

Governor's Mansion

Governor's Mansion in Sacramento.
Huell gets a behind-the-scene's look at the Governor's Mansion in Sacramento. We'll get a special tour from Kathleen Brown who lived in the house as a teenager.

Image by Flickr user Andrew Ranta used under a Creative Commons license.

  • 2017-06-08T12:00:00-07:00

Roads Go Thru

Huell rides through the middle of California history on this visit to Beal's Cut and Groveland, CA.

  • 2017-06-09T12:30:00-07:00

Yosemite Railroad

In this episode, Huell rides the historic Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad in Yosemite.

This image used courtesy of Flickr user Alan Vernon under a Creative Commons license.

  • 2017-06-12T12:00:00-07:00

Trees of Mystery

The giant statue of Paul Bunyan greets visitors to this family run road-side attraction that has been open since the 1930's. Join host Huell Howser as he get a tour through some of the most amazing Redwoods in California, but its not just any old walking tour where you stare up at these impossibly tall trees; its a SkyTrail, which is basically a ski lift which gets you at tree-top level giving you an amazing new view.

  • 2017-06-12T12:30:00-07:00
  • 2017-06-17T11:30:00-07:00

First Theater

On this adventure, Huell goes in search of California's "First Theater." As usual, nothing is simple in California because there are actually two first theaters. From Monterey to Sacramento we uncover California's theater history. Huell starts his search in Monterey at "California's First Theater". An English sailor by the name of Jack Swan completed his saloon/boarding house in 1847 and very quickly US soldiers stationed in Monterey where putting on shows in his building. The building went through many incarnations over the years until 1937 when it was re-opened as a theater.

  • 2017-06-13T12:00:00-07:00

Hidden Alcatraz

Most of us have seen one of the countless films based on Alcatraz, from "The Birdman" to Clint Eastwood and his "Escape From Alcatraz." Over a million people every year take the ferry through the thick San Francisco fog to walk the cell blocks that housed the likes of Machine Gun Kelley and Al Capone. As usual Huell wasn't satisfied with the regular tour and went in search of the "Hidden Alcatraz". It got it's name from the Spanish word Alcatraces, or Bird Island and didn't see human inhabitants until the U.S. Military took it over in the mid 1800s.

  • 2017-06-13T12:30:00-07:00

Citrus' Gold!

Citrus was to southern California what the discovery of gold was to the north because it triggered a massive migration to our state. In fact, many Americans from back east came to California to see for themselves the "paradise" found on those early crate labels used to promote citrus fruit. Through these labels, "California sunshine" and "California living" became deeply ingrained in the popular imagination of a nation.

  • 2017-06-14T12:30:00-07:00

Basset Hound Picnic

  • 2017-06-15T12:00:00-07:00

Hot Dog on a Stick Update

It's off to Santa Monica Beach to the site of the very first Hot Dog on a Stick stand. It all started in 1946 when Dave Barham opened his first stand by Muscle Beach. The company has become a California tradition with Dave's daughter at the helm. We get a behind the scenes look at Hot Dog on a Stick.

  • 2017-06-16T12:00:00-07:00

Emperor and the President

Like other states, the hierarchy of California's government begins with our Governor and weaves its way down through offices such as Secretary of State, Attorney General and Senator. What is surprising about California, is that we once had an Emperor and a President.

  • 2017-06-19T12:00:00-07:00

Singing Cowboys

Meet the famous western duo, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, (and Trigger) and hear them sing their trademark song; meet Herb Jeffries who starred in black westerns in the late 1930s; and watch the festive 17th Annual Black Cowboy Parade in Oakland.

  • 2017-06-20T12:00:00-07:00

Missing San Francisco

The Berkeley, an 1898 steam ferryboat operated for 60 years on San Francisco Bay, and now has a loving home at the San Diego Maritime Museum. Likewise, the organ from the Fox Theatre has a new life entertaining audiences at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood. Join Huell Howser as he retraces the journeys of these two items from their beginnings in San Francisco.

  • 2017-06-21T12:00:00-07:00

World War II

Learn two fascinating, yet obscure, California footnotes to World War II: a German-made crane which is the largest self-propelled floating crane berthed at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, and an incident involving a Japanese submarine that shelled the oil fields of Ellwood in Santa Barbara County in 1942.

  • 2017-06-22T12:00:00-07:00