In another happy marriage of high-tech and history, three local columnists are shining a historical spotlight on their communities via the newest of web journalism ventures.
They write for Patch, America Online's network of hyper-local blogs. Patch's mission is to provide news, events, business listings and discussion for neighborhoods and smaller cities. The network began less than two years ago and is expanding fairly quickly in Northern California. So far there are Patch operations in Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Elk Grove, Rosemont and Dixon. More are coming to Sacramento's suburbs.
One type of column appearing in some Patch blogs is the historical feature "Then and Now," a look back at a particular community landmark. Jo Ann Cabral Wilson, Historian for the Rosemont Community Association whose family has lived in the neighborhood since 1927, writes for Patch. Her latest Then and Now column discusses one of the oldest homes in the region that once stood at Mayhew and Goethe Roads. Built between 1847 and 1850, the structure served as a bar, school and roadhouse before being razed in the 1960s to make way for a freeway project that was never happened.
Bil Paul, a freelance writer who moved to Dixon in 2009, maintains that town's Then and Now feature. He's researched the origins of the Dixon library, train stations, slaughterhouse and old fire station. His latest column describes the evolution of the rowdy Fly Trap Saloon, built in the late 1800s, into today's more civilized Firehouse coffee house.
Elizabeth Pinkerton is a respected former educator who has authored several books on Elk Grove history. She also writes historical pieces for Elk Grove Patch, as well as the Elk Grove Citizen newspaper. Her debut Patch column chronicles the World War II internment of the Japanese Americans who farmed the strawberry fields and grape vineyards that now are Elk Grove and Florin housing developments. Pinkerton's latest "History Happens Here" column in the Elk Grove Citizen provides short histories of ten Florin and Elk Grove churches.
PHOTO CREDIT: Bartender Stormy Connell presides over the Fly Trap Saloon along 'A' Street in 1910. Dixon Public Library archives.