Narratives about motorcycling on Northern California's back roads; Reflections on the history and geography of the North State; Memoirs and early recollections of youthful visits to towns and forests and mountaintops.
Also middle-of-the-road takes on current issues in politics and education. Middle of the road? Isn't that dangerous?
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
WILLIAM B. IDE ADOBE – A VISIT TOO LATE
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t
- Charles F.
For as long as I have lived in northern
California, Interstate 5 has run the length of the state.I’ve utilized it dozens of times flying
toward adventures in the Siskiyous and points north in Oregon and
Washington.Just one exit beyond
Red Bluff, after a crossing of the Sacramento River, a posted sign reads
William B. Ide State Historic Park.Racing by time after time, I think to myself, “I’ve gotta stop there and
check it out.”
On this day I would.
(c) California State Parks
William B Ide arrived in California
in 1845. He proved to be a pivotal figure in the historic “Bear Flag Revolt.”Our state was once known as Alta California,
a Mexican territory.The
Californios of the region became intent of separating from Mexico’s governance
due, in part to its distance (Mexico City) and its indifference to the Mexican
citizens that lived here.
handful of Americans who’d come to settle in the Great Central Valley – Ide
among them – traveled to Monterey to embrace the separatists and play roles in
establishing California as an independent republic in June 1846.As a result of a rousing speech he
delivered, Ide was declared President of the republic.That circumstance would stand only
until the United States declared war on Mexico in July 1846 – about 22 days.
The history I’d learned and the history I subsequently
taught my Fourth Graders fifty miles south in Durham, CA, was that Ide was an
up-river settler who became the only President of the California Republic – and
that he lived just up the road in Red Bluff. “You can even visit his house, up there,” I advised my
kids, although I’d never visited myself.
On this day I would.
The William B Ide Adobe State Historic Park
is located on a bluff overlooking the Sacramento River.
Listening to the river whisper by, the
soft breeze through the oaks and the occasional twitter of some native little
brown bird, it is easy to imagine oneself settling in this bucolic piece of
heaven about a hundred and seventy years back.The land was rich and fertile, the river rife with salmon
and game roamed within easy range of even the most primitive firearm.Just add Maureen O’Hara…
I like to drop into the visitor center first, pay my fare
and check out any exhibits there in – and thus be better informed about that
which I will experience outside.
“I’ve been meaning to come here for about fifty years,” I
chatted with the young docent on duty.
“Well it’s good you finally made it, but I’m afraid you’re
about eight months late.”He saw
the quizzical look on my face.“Did you read about us in the paper?”I shook my head.“Well, did you happen to get a look at the oak tree?”Again I shook my head.“Well go take a look.”
East of the visitor center a about fifty yards stands the
trunk of a five hundred year old oak, pared back to about two stories in
A few feet further on,
wrapped in industrial grade plastic and surrounded by a temporary fence, is the
shell of what once was called the Ide Adobe.I walked around the building unable to capture a decent shot
of what it once was.
“Yep,” the young man said, “Storm blew through last March
and most of the tree collapsed on the building.Wiped out the roof and the floor but the walls seem to be
Roof Detail from Smokehouse
The State Park System is restoring the adobe, but it will
take some time.My once-again-lesson-learned
has to do with putting off those places you’d like to visit for another day.I’d missed this one by a mere eight
A footnote to this whole visit is
that Ide probably never lived at the adobe.He likely lived further down-river as he spent quite a bit
of his political career as a bigwig down in “Colusi” County.There was a river ferry just down
stream from the adobe known as Ide’s Crossing.The state or the locals assumed – according to the docent –
that William B Ide had something to do with that enterprise or at least its
name.But no record exists to
suggest anything other than simple coincidence regarding the name.On top of that, no one is quite sure if
the photos of Ide are actually photos of Ide.Pictures of two different men are on display at the park,
both purported to be William B Ide.
A stop at the park is well worthwhile, even in its current
condition.It is a pleasant break
and a short jaunt off I-5 north of Red Bluff.California State Park System information on the Ide Adobe
may be located at: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=458