Muir struggled for decades to create and protect Yosemite National Park, and helped launch the American environmental movement.
In 1903, Presiden
Fighting for labor rights in California's Central Valley, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta took up la causa in the name of children.
With five major exploring expeditions west of the Mississippi, John C. Frémont redefined the country — with the help of his wife’s promotional skills.
Editor's Note: Steve Inskeep, the host of NPR's Morning Edition, has recently published
By war-making and shrewd negotiating, the 11th president expanded U.S. territory by a third.
IN FEBRUARY 28, 1848, President James K. Polk received a visit from Ambrose Sevier of Arkansas, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, bearing bad news.
Out of an agonizing American experience, the frail Scots author mined a treasure and carried it away with him
A junior Army officer, acting on secret orders from the president, bluffed a far stronger Mexican force into conceding North America's westernmost province to the United States
Frémont was wi
It was tough going, but the road over the Sierras could be used by men who understood how to travel
For the brilliant songwriter behind the Beach Boys, the endless summer gave way to a very hard winter. Now he is back, with a work that wants to be no less than a musical history of the American dream.
WILLIAM HEWLETT AND THE BIRTH OF SILICON VALLEY
It began, as legend has it—and in this case the legend is true—in a one-car garage at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, California, in 1938.
Save for the Civil War, what occurred after a carpenter glimpsed a flash of yellow 150 years ago was the biggest story of the nineteenth century. RICHARD REINHARDT examines what we think we know (and don’t) about the people who made it happen.
AFTER TRYING TO PRODUCE DRINKABLE WINE for three hundred years, we finally got the hang of it—so effectively that in the last quarter-century our results have raised the quality of winemaking all over the world
A GENERATION AGO THE United States was little more than an afterthought in the world of wine. America certainly had a long history of grape growing and winemaking, but that history hardly mattered. Nor did the wine itself much matter.
What Human nature and the California gold rush tell us about crime in the inner city
Though it appears to have sprung up overnight, the inspiration of free-spirited hackers, it in fact was born in Defense Department Cold War projects of the 1950s
The Internet seems so now, so happening, so information age, that its Gen-X devotees might find the uncool circumstances of its birth hard to grasp.
The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery in 1865, but right on into this century sailors were routinely drugged, beaten, and kidnapped to man America’s mighty merchant marine
William Davis, a cabinet-maker, left his home near Great Salt Lake in the Utah Territory in the mid-1870s and headed for Northern California, a fast-growing region where he hoped to earn up to six dollars a day by adapting his expertise to ship carpentry.
The world about us is strewn with relics that are quietly eloquent of the struggle that ended half a century ago
Finger some old magazines from the world War II years.
The first caravans lumbered across two thousand miles of dangerous, inhospitable wilderness in 1843, the year of the Great Migration. To a surprising degree it’s still possible to follow something very like their route.
A couple of miles south of Marysville, Kansas, not far from the east bank of the Big Blue River, lies one of the most moving places on the Oregon Trail.
The United States Army has always been secretive about its defense installations. In the summer of 1864 a breach of security took place on the tiny island fortress of Alcatraz that reverberated all the way back to the War Department in Washington.
When you’re lining up a putt on the close-cropped green, there are ghosts at your shoulder. More than any other game, golf is played with a sense of tradition.
The oldest golf joke I know is one about the player who threw his clubs into the ocean after a terrible round and the next day was drowned trying to get them back again. To people who don’t play golf, this is a silly story; to those of us who do, it isn’t.
The author leads a search for hidden treasure in the amazingly complete documentary history of a California ghost town
The road to Bodie, California, turns to gravel as it meanders upward from U.S. 395 on a thirteen-mile climb through sagebrush to an elevation of almost eighty-five hundred feet.
To keep Upton Sinclair from becoming governor of California in 1934, his opponents invented a whole new kind of campaign
The American political campaign as we know it today was born on August 28, 1934, when Upton Sinclair, the muckraking author and lifelong socialist, won the Democratic primary for governor of California.
Rich soil, warm days, and cool nights have shaped the history of northern California’s Napa Valley. Thirty-five miles long and one to five miles wide, this fertile valley has successively lured Indians, Mexican rancheros, American pioneers, and vintners to settle here.
Americans have been doing just that since the days of the California gold rush—and we’re still not full
A photograph taken in New York’s Chinatown in 1933 seems to sum up the special place of Chinese restaurants in American culture.
No city has more energetically obliterated the remnants of its past. And yet no city has a greater sense of its history.
On the edge of a pond a few blocks from my home, there is a knee-high chunk of granite with a bronze plate on one side, marking the spot where a band of Spanish soldiers commanded by a captain named Juan Bautista de Anza pitched camp on a March afternoon in 1
From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past
For many children who accompanied their parents west across the continent in the 1840s and '50s, the journey was a supreme adventure
The historian Francis Parkman, strolling around Independence, Missouri, in 1846, remarked upon the “multitude of healthy children’s faces … peeping out from under the covers of the wagons.” Two decades later a traveler there wrote of husbands packing up “sunb
California has always been as much a state of mind as a geographical entity. For the better part of two centuries, artists have been defining its splendid promise.
BEFORE THE DISCOVERY of gold at Sutler’s mill in 1848, the population of California was too small and too scattered to produce much painting.
This puckish, nearly forgotten California architect built his own distinctive style on the simple principle that beauty alone endures
In the winter of 1953, a few days after his ninety-first birthday, Bernard Ralph Maybeck granted a lengthy interview to a public service radio station in Berkeley, California, the city in which he had lived and worked for six decades.
The past has a way of catching up to us in odd and unexpected ways. A friend of mine was once walking the streets of Venice and encountered the smell of sausages cooking somewhere.
An Unfortunate Affair at Fullerton Which at the End is Amicably Adjusted.
Joe Lyons, the nineteen-year-old son of Isaac Lyons of Orangethorpe, shot and seriously wounded Morris Smith, son of W. J. Smith of the same place, at Fullerton at about half-past 9 o’clock on last Thursday morning.
Between his arrival in Fresno in 1911 and his death there fifty-five years later, Claude “Pop” Laval devoted all his energy, every day, to photographing the people, places, events, industries, and farms of Fresno and the surrounding San Joaquin Valley.