Auburn anniversaries aplenty in 2011

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The first airplane visit, the dedication of a landmark church and the founding of the city’s oldest fraternal order are some of the milestones coming up for the Auburn area in 2011. The first airplane visit in Placer County occurred when pioneer Robert George Fowler landed his Wright biplane 100 years ago this coming Sept. 11 on Nevada Street, just east of what was then Auburn city limits. Fowler was on his way in an attempt to cross the Sierra and win a $50,000 prize offered by the Hearst newspaper syndicate to the first pilot to fly across the continent. Fowler would crash in Alta, ending his solo, transcontinental quest for cash and glory. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Downtown Auburn will be marking a century this year. The building at the corner of Lincoln Way and Highway 49, was consecrated, blessed and dedicated in 1911. The Eureka Lodge No. 16 of the Masonic Order is not only approaching its 160th anniversary in 2011. Next year is also the 95th anniversary of its Lincoln Way building’s dedication. Here are some more anniversaries: Twenty years ago, Placer High School product Jeff Blauser reached baseball’s World Series for the first time as a member of the Atlanta Braves. 2011 also marks 20 years since Auburn Police moved into a new Public Safety Building, next to the Auburn Civic Center. The Placer County Board of Supervisors will be marking two decades since they found themselves with an involuntary pay cut. Voters approved Measure A in 1991, limiting their compensation to $30,000 – effectively cutting their pay in half. Despite several efforts since then to change things, it’s still at $30,000. The United Auburn Indian Community can celebrate in 2011. It regained tribal status after nearly 40 years in 1996 and tribal members soon afterward started looking for land to build a casino. 2011 will also mark 15 years since Kurt Russell and the movie “Breakdown” filmed in Newcastle and the American River canyon. The movie-making continued in August when Cheryl Ladd and Mike Farrell shot sequences in Auburn for the made-for-TV soaper “Deadly Web.” Rain provided a inauspicious 25th anniversary for the Auburn dam site with a spectacular breaching of the cofferdam during a Feb. 17-20, 1986, deluge that also flooded Old Town Auburn. 1981 was a big football year for Auburn, with continuing success of the Placer High team and – down the hill – the San Francisco 49ers set up training camp for the first time at Rocklin’s Sierra College. And 120 years ago this coming year, the first telephone line was completed between Auburn and Sacramento. 2011 will also be a big year for business birthdays. Milestone birthdays are coming in 2011 for these Auburn businesses. Auburn Drug Co. (115 years); Chapel of the Hills (110 years), Roper’s Jewelers (55 years), Bast Bros. Welding Works (50 years), American Muffler (45 years) and Dawson Oil Co. (40 years).