'Off the 99' podcast visits forgotten town of Hopeton

This week, “Off the 99” is beginning a new series.

From time to time, we will venture out of the studio and into some of Merced’s several unincorporated towns.

We hope to show what life is like in these communities that are so often forgotten – seen as nothing more than blur from a car window speeding down the main road.

Perhaps none of the places we will visit is more forgotten than Hopeton: a true ghost town nestled in the heart of northern Merced County.

While not much is left of Hopeton now – a single church building, decaying former shops and a crumbling graveyard – we did find several folks willing to tell us about the town’s rich history.

This week, in our first virtual postcard, “Off the 99” will take you on a trip through time with our guests: Denzel McDowell, caretaker for St. Johns Catholic Church and festa grounds; Joe Souza, a Snelling resident that grew up in Hopeton and has collected town memorabilia for the last 30 years; and Shirley Bauer, who wrote a weekly column about life in Snelling and Hopeton for the Sun-Star until 2005.

This is “Off the 99."