Today, we explore the Idyllwild Area Historical Society’s museum. Last weekend, I spent some time there, soaking up community history and clearing up a couple of mysteries with the lovely and helpful docent on duty, Jayne.
The Historical Society’s been closed up tight ever since Covid hit town, but they held their grand re-opening over the Memorial Day weekend. A yard sale and an Ice Cream Social marked the event. If you missed it, their next Ice Cream Social will be held over the Labor Day weekend on Saturday, September 4th from noon to 2:30pm. Board members will be standing by to scoop up sundaes until the ice cream runs out. Toppings, treats, and root-beer floats! Ya’all come!
Meanwhile, let’s take a quick look at the physical artifacts in the room. These items take you back to the days of pioneers, loggers, miners, and homesteaders in the San Jacinto mountains.
The heart of a home is the kitchen, and a cook required multiple skills to pull off a meal for a family or a work crew. You raised or bought your meat and produce, harvested or butchered on the regular, canned or preserved extra for winter, swapped with your neighbors in a pinch, and hoped that weather or pests or cattle rustlers didn’t ruin all your hard work. In addition, your animals required provisions, horseshoes, housing, breeding, birthing, and veterinary care.
You didn’t take your vittles for granted, and just having a cup of tea was a big deal, as Loveda will tell you.
We have a lot of items relating to the logging and sawmills that ran at various creeks around Idyllwild. In the 1880s and 90s, timber was plentiful and the market keen. Incoming railways needed lumber and a lot of lumber went, of all things, to a local box company that made orange crates for farms off the hill. Teams of oxen (11) pulled the rough timber down from the high country, and after the lumber was milled, teams of horses or mules pulled wagons (3) down the treacherous road to Hemet.
Expand the photos to see a hand-carved wooden yoke (14) for the oxen, a horseshoe (1) and oxen shoe (2), a peavey (15) used for pushing and pulling logs into place, a saw blade, a crosscut saw, and other relics of the logging camp days. In our next blog, we will dive into old photos of the families who founded the areas. Mr. Hannahs was a logger. Mr. Lindley built with the lumber.
But do they look the way you’ve pictured them in the books?
My personal mantra when submersed in my favorite books is that “I don’t want to know.” It spoils the fun in my head.
I dare you not to peek, though.
We leave the museum with a final tour of the front gardens. Historic roses with elegant names and common local flowers grace the yard. A few chairs strategically placed, invite you to sit and enjoy the shade and overhead sighs of the pines. A rock marker tells the story of the memorial tree and the artists who honored Idyllwild with their talents.
The Cahuilla mortar and grindstones on the fireplace hearth remind us that everyone comes from somewhere. We all have a history. We all have a story to tell.
And my pen is ready.