Media Life: Placer’s forest, rail past finds form in book, exhibit

New Riders of the Purple Sage stand the test of time; Cool founder’s moniker stays with accepted nomenclature
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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One of the more respected history experts in the Auburn area has just come out with a new book and “Romantic Tahoe” is a labor of love that should be of particular interest in the Tahoe area. Donna Howell, a former vice president of the Placer County Historical Foundation and a past president of the Placer County Historical Society, is an Auburn native who has already been author or co-author of a number of locally oriented history publications, including the well-received “Auburn Images.” This time around, Howell has pulled out more than 75 photos from her own collection – many of them shot by relatives – to help tell the story of the period from 1929 to 1935 at the Forest Service Campground and Ranger Station at Incline, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe at Crystal Bay. Howell co-writes this book with her late mother, Kathryn Howell – who as a new bride spent five summers and two winters with her Forest Ranger husband Jim Howell. Much of the writing comes from journals kept by Kathryn Howell, with her daughter filling in some of the historical context. The many never-before-published photos are one of the best parts of the book, with a glimpse into a time before the tourist trade took over and logging was still king. Copies are available at The Book Haven in Downtown Auburn. Rail display at library Speaking of another well-respected history expert, Newcastle’s Chris Graves is sharing some of his finds from three decades of searching along the sides of rail track in private hands for vestiges of times long gone. The display is at the Auburn Library on Nevada Street and includes bottles and other artifacts dating to the building of both a scuttled Folsom to Auburn section of railroad and construction of the Union Pacific line – both in the 1860s. But get to the library soon. The exhibit only lasts until Tuesday. Cool name update A reader was kind enough to pass along a reliable source for a Media Life reference earlier this month to Cool namesake Aaron Cool. It was the El Dorado County Historical Society that determined Aaron Cool to be the name of choice for the traveling preacher honored by the former community of Cave Valley when it opened a post office in 1885. As well as the name of the community itself, you’ll also find an Aaron Cool Drive if you look to your left after emerging from the American River Canyon on a drive from Auburn along Highway 49. To clear up any confusion, Media Life has no reason to doubt that the Aaron Cool the community is named after is also Peter Cool. Indications are they’re one and the same. But we’ll continue to use what is clearly the preferred name to avoid any confusion. And if the historical society wants to change its conclusion and the community goes along with that and changes the name of Aaron Cool Drive to Peter Cool Drive to avoid any confusion, that would change things substantially. New Riders roll into Auburn And for all you fans of another sort of history – California rock history – Auburn will be playing host this weekend to the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Look to today’s “Events” section for the details of the show Saturday at the Auburn Events Center and look here for a little extra background. Scott Holbrook of Keep Smilin’ Promotions reminds us that not only has the band recorded a song with local leaning – 1972’s “Sutter’s Mill” – and Auburn’s Pete Grant is a longtime friend of founding member David Nelson. But the band’s list of members also includes Allen Kemp, who lived in Auburn until his death in 2009. Kemp played bass and rhythm guitars while adding some high harmonies to the New Riders sound in the late 1970s and early 1980s. New Riders started out as an experiment by Grateful Dead members. And while the founding Dead – including Jerry Garcia – have moved on and a new lineup has taken its place, the band – named after a western novel by author Zane Gray – have proven the experiment has stood the test of time.