Stockton’s link to Yosemite — past and present

Alice van Ommeren sent some wonderful images to help illustrate today’s story about Stockton’s connection to Yosemite National Park, which is celebrating 150 years of protection.

In case you missed them:

The Big Oak Flat Road was the route early park visitors took, from Weber Point in downtown Stockton to the floor of Yosemite Valley. As you can see, the journey was a bit harrowing. (And I thought driving over Sonora Pass in my Rav was bad.)

To think we complain today about the 21/2-hour drive to Yosemite. Back then, the trip took days. It was hot and dusty and buggy and you were lucky if you weren’t bruised by the time you gingerly stepped down from the carriage.

Wouldn’t you love to have lived in Stockton in those times? As you can see from this postcard, Stocktonians used the city’s proximity to Yosemite National Park as a marketing tool. Not so much, anymore, though a few scattered businesses and hotels still invoke the name.

Thanks again, Alice.

I also want to share an email I got today from a reader reminding us that, thankfully, our historic connection to Yosemite has not been completely severed.

Dear Alex,

I enjoyed reading your article about Yosemite National Park, which is majestic and beautiful beyond imagination  I hope people who read your article will be inspired to visit.  I noticed you interviewed a couple of people who teach at Delta College and I thought it was too bad that you didn’t interview my husband, Clarence Louie, who works as an EOPS counselor at Delta College.

For the past 33 years, Clarence has taught classes in the EOPS Summer Readiness Program, a program that introduces low income freshman students to college and as the name says, gets them ready for college.  The students take classes in personal development, academic and career exploration, and study skills.  On Fridays, the students go on field trips to visit college campuses, such as UC Davis, Sacramento State, and San Francisco State.  They learn information about transfer requirements and course preparation for their college majors.  Students are encouraged to complete their degrees and return to their community and give back.

For the past 25 years or more, Clarence has chaperoned Summer Readiness students to visit Yosemite as the culminating event and reward for completing the program.  To date, hundreds, maybe thousands, of Delta College students have made the trek to Yosemite.  After a grueling six weeks in the program, a visit to Yosemite serves as the ideal place for these Delta College students to reflect on the opportunities they have, the future they can create, and how they can make a difference by giving meaning and purpose to their goal to attain a higher education.  Indeed, many students who went on to graduate from college have chosen to live in our community and contribute their knowledge and skills by working as doctors, police officers, teachers, counselors, and business people.

Sincerely,

Debra Louie

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  • Blog Author

    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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