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Auburn’s Top 5 anniversaries for 2013

Foresthill Bridge turns 40; Auburn celebrates 125th birthday; Latshaw murders mark 70 years
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With the dawning of a new year, Auburn will be marking several noteworthy anniversaries. Here are the Top 5, and several events deserving of honorable mentions:

1.          The Foresthill Bridge turns 40 in September, with work continuing through spring 2014 on a retrofit that dwarfs the span’s initial $18 million cost. The $70 million earthquake retrofit and repainting project has already used 9,000 gallons of paint. An elephant and donkey, symbolizing bipartisan support for the Auburn dam project the bridge was initially part of, were a highlight of the opening ceremony. It was also 40 years ago this coming year that the new Auburn Placer County Library opened its doors and a blaze destroyed much of the old Pacific Fruit Exchange in Newcastle.

2.          The quiet life in Placer County was shattered in March 1943, when the bodies of five members of the Latshaw family were found murdered on their rural Auburn Folsom Road property. Raymond Latshaw was subsequently arrested in Los Angeles and returned to Placer County, where he confessed to killing his parents, grandparents and a brother. He was sentenced that June to life imprisonment at San Quentin Prison.  1943 also marked the start of operations at the giant DeWitt Army Hospital for wounded World War II soldiers.

3.          Clark Ashton Smith devotees can celebrate the 120th birthday of, arguably, Auburn’s best and most famous writer. Smith was born Jan. 13, 1893, in Long Valley, near Auburn. His fantasy works and poetry have reached a global audience. This coming year also the 80th anniversary of the publication of Smith’s book “The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies,” which was printed on the Auburn Journal presses in June 1933.

4.          A sporty anniversary in 2013 for one-time Auburn mayor Roy Mikkelsen – for ski jumping heroics that vaulted him twice onto the U.S. Olympic team and into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame. Mikkelsen won the national ski jump competition in Salisbury, Conn. in February 1933. He would repeat the feat in 1935. The year 1933 was also marked by the return of legal beer in Auburn (in April) and an order in May by the police chief banning slot machines in the city. In June, ex-President Herbert Hoover stopped into Auburn and stayed at the old Freeman Hotel (where Pistol Pete’s Brew & Cue is now located). And long-surviving business Eisley Nursery opened up.

5.          Auburn is marking its 125th anniversary of incorporation. The city had been unincorporated years earlier after an ill-advised investment in a railroad scheme left Auburn holding worthless bonds. The 1888 incorporation has stood the test of time.

Honorable mention anniversaries: March 1913 (Gambling anywhere liquor served was ordered prohibited); July 1863 (first Republican paper “The Stars & Stripes” first published, lasts until 1872); Nat 1938 (work begins on new Auburn fairgrounds); March 1953 (decision to rename Placer College in Auburn as Sierra College); April 1953 (Auburn phones can change over to dial system); October 1983 (St. Joseph’s Catholic Church opens new parochial school on Atwood Road; July 1993 (Clocktower arrives on Lincoln Way).