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California History Articles Online

Civilian Conservation Corps in California State Parks

CCC built Weyland Bridge at Pfeiffer Big Sur


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was the most popular of the New Deal programs created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to provide relief and a speedy recovery from the Great Depression.  From 1933 to 1942, the CCC put some two million young men to work on a massive building program in Americas' parks and forests. The legacy CCC can be found throughout California State Parks. 

The CCC developed the infrastructure for the young park system, from unique projects such as the reconstruction of Mission La Purisima Concepcion, to planting trees and landscaping.  Learn about the hard working young men of the three C's and its contributions to our Golden State. 
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1906 San Francisco Earthquake

1906 San Francisco Earthquake


2006 was the centennial of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire and in recognition the California State Capitol Museum developed an exhibit at the California State Capitol Museum titled Rumors of Great Disaster. The exhibit featured dramatic photographs, original accounts of survivors, memorabilia, and artifacts from the earthquake and firestorm. The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire was one of the most devastating urban disasters in United States history.
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Stagecoach History: Stage Lines to California

Old Town San Diego SHP Stagecoach Exhibit

California State Parks invites you to learn about the history of stage lines to California. Our online articles tell about how people traveled in the era before the automobile. You can also find out about the state parks and museums where you can see the original stages, that once traveled the dusty roads of California in the 19th century.

In 2008, festivals and programs were held as part of our Stagecoach Days: 150th Anniversary, recognizing and celebrating the history of the stagecoach. Events featured living history days, tours, lectures, stories, songs and stage equipment displays.
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Overland Mail 1857 Anniversary

Overland Mail 1857 Anniversary

In 2007, several agencies in the southland had events to commemorate and memorialize the 1857 completion of the San Antonio and San Diego Mail Line (SA&SD).  The SA&SD was the first intercontinental communication link, joining the newly-won western territories with the Midwest and East Coast of the United States. 

The SA&SD blazed the trail for the Butterfield Stage route.  Equestrian focused reenactments happen along the SA&SD mail line and official celebration of the arrival of the first mail takes took place on August 31, 2007 in Old Town San Diego. 
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Travelers on the Southern Route 1849 - 1852


Southern leg drawing

Pioneer travel correspondent Bayard Taylor made this observation in 1849 as thousands of adventurers on the southern trails to the California gold fields crossed the desert country between the Colorado River and the coastal mountains.  Their experience challenged both their imagination and their stamina.

Even after traversing the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona and Sonora, travelers from a humid east had trouble comprehending the aridity and starkness of this entrance to California. This paper examines the last leg of the southern route to West Coast in the mid-nineteenth century through the Colorado Desert of southeastern Alta California and northeastern Baja California.  View Online Article


California Missions Trail

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park

From their humble, thatch-roofed beginnings to the stately adobes we see today, the missions represent a dynamic chapter of California's past. By the time the last mission was built in 1823, the Golden State had grown from an untamed wilderness to a thriving agricultural frontier on the verge of American statehood.

The 21 missions that comprise California's historic mission trail are all located on or near Highway 101, which roughly traces El Camino Real (The Royal Road) named in honor of the Spanish monarchy which financed the expeditions into California in the quest for empire.  View Online Article


California's Ancient Maritime Heritage

Underwater mortars

Although formal exploration has only recently begun, two basic types of cultural sites have been located in the underwater environment of California. They are Native American archaeological sites (and objects), and historic-era shipwrecks, cargo spills or landing sites. Our state has a rich and varied maritime history.
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California Indian Languages

California Indian languages

The Cultural Heritage of California begins no less than 12,000 years ago when the first of several waves of people arrived and settled here. California's prehistoric population one of the largest and most diverse in the Western hemisphere is exhibited by the no fewer than the sixty-four distinct languages they spoke, more than any other comparable area in the world outside of New Guinea.  View Online Article