The story about flooding in Merced County in my last column brought a great deal of interest from readers. Many have shared their memories of the Christmas flood of 1955.
"When the water reached the Franklin area, everyone carried something out of the house and Ezio carried the Christmas tree," said Eleanor Sansoni, wife of Ezio. This was how young Ezio "saved" Christmas.
Merced County is no stranger to extreme weather conditions, from disastrous floods to prolonged droughts as well as searing heat waves and rare snowfalls -- and 1913 was one of those years.
In the newly released 2013 Merced County Historical Society calendar, January features a snow-covered Courthouse Park, February depicts a frozen Colony Canal in Dos Palos, and November shows a flooded Merced home.
Although there is not any recorded snowfall data available for that year, the Courthouse Park photo dated 1913 suggests this rare scene took place in Merced as the lowest temperature in January reached 18 degrees.
About the same time, it was so cold in Dos Palos that its main canal was frozen to the point that residents used it as an ice-skating rink and a bike path. Then in November of that year, with a total rainfall of 2.69 inches, a flood swept through the Bradley Addition, a residential development in what is now Merced's East 21st Street neighborhood.
Weather is not the only subject of the calendar. The remaining months are a tour of different Merced County sites.
March commemorates the dedication of the Los Banos branch of the county library 100 years ago, and April illustrates the newly completed Independent Order of Odd Fellows building in Gustine. By 1913, the IOOF building, along with the Miller and Lux Store, Gustine Hotel, and the Bank of Gustine, occupied the four corners of the Fifth Street and Fourth Avenue downtown.
Moving from the west side to Merced, May features St. Luke's Episcopal Church on the northeast corner of M and 20th streets. The Rev. W.H. Hawken built this church in 1913, and it occupied this location until 1975.
Just a couple of blocks from the church was E. Lounsbury Co. Garage and Machine Works at 625 M St. (later renumbered to 1725 M St.) is featured in June. Opened in 1913, it was started by Charles E. Lounsbury and Richard Shaffer.
Leaving Merced and heading north, July visits a chicken farm on the Adams Ranch by the Merced River and August showcases the newly completed Santa Fe Depot in Winton. Catching a southbound train at the depot, Tuttle School is the next destination.
Tuttle School was organized in 1913 on Tuttle Road (now Arboleda Drive), about a half-mile north of the Santa Fe Railroad. The one-room schoolhouse was in use until 1946, when custodians who were trying to burn out a beehive accidentally burned the schoolhouse to the ground. September features a group of students posing for their class picture in front of Tuttle School.
October features Reuel Buerer, Noah Van Hook, and Clarence Niles of Dos Palos posing proudly on a Case gas tractor. California received its first shipment of Case gas tractors in the fall of 1912; the first Case tractor in Merced County arrived the next year.
There was much to celebrate in 1913: new farm equipment, new schools, new depots, new businesses, new building, and new infrastructure.
By 1913, Merced had constructed about 20 miles of cement walks and more than 10 miles of level streets as depicted in December.
Looking east on Main Street, the Shaffer building on the left had just been completed and the Cosmopolitan Hotel on the right is a busy place. Main Street is paved and full of parked vehicles, but horse droppings are visible here and there.
The 2013 Historical Society calendar is free of charge to society members with their membership renewals. Yes, it is our annual membership drive. Please support the Merced County Courthouse Museum by renewing your membership or joining the Historical Society today.
Additional calendars can be purchased at the Museum Store. While you are at the museum, don't forget to check out our Christmas trees exhibit. It will run through Dec. 30.
Happy holidays from all of us here at the Courthouse Museum.
Sarah Lim is museum director for the Merced County Courthouse Museum. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.