California celebrates Sesquicentennial

NEW YORK -- California is in the midst of a three-year series of events called the Sesquicentennial, which commemorates gold discovery, the Gold Rush and California's statehood.

The theme for 1999 is California's Rich Heritage.

The Sesquicentennial kicked off last year on Gold Discovery Day, Jan. 24, 1998. The date marked the 150th anniversary of James Marshall's discovery in Coloma Valley that led to the Gold Rush of 1849, and the largest voluntary human migration in history.

Events and activities include a tall ship flotilla up the coast of California with maritime re-enactments and a Pony Express journey from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento.

California's rich blend of natural, historic and cultural resources will be commemorated throughout the year. The theme for 2000 will be California's Statehood and Vision.

California's past and present will be recognized through events such as a re-enactment of the signing of California's constitution in Monterey. Cities that existed prior to California's admittance to the Union will be honored during the year's activities.

The following are highlights of the celebration:

  • Mervyn's California Gold Rush Race. In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of California's Gold Rush, tall ships from around the world will come to California. This grand maritime event will be launched in San Francisco during the weekend of July 2 to 5. That gathering will be followed by a tall ship race to Long Beach/Los Angeles and another weekend celebration July 9 to 12. The vessels will then cruise together to a final gathering in the port of San Diego on the weekend of July 16 to 19. The weekend celebrations will provide opportunities to attend a myriad of port activities such as ship visits, harbor festivities and gala events reflecting California's diverse cultures.
  • California or Bust! Several wagon trains will be traveling to and through California, commemorating the Gold Rush Sesquicentennial.
  • Going for the Gold. A Mormon wagon train will travel through six states along the California Gold Rush Trail from St. Joseph, Mo., April 24 to Sept. 4. For details, contact Western Trails Wagon Train at (402) 746-3607; fax (403) 746-3656.
  • The California Trail Gold Rush Wagon Train of the 49ers. Led by women, this wagon train will retrace the route used by the 49ers, beginning in Independence, Mo. It will begin in the spring and be completed sometime in the fall. For details, contact Morris Carter at (307) 266-4868; fax (307) 237-6010.
  • Wagon Train. Wagon master Frank Long of Mariposa, Calif., will oversee the June 24 convergence of eight historical wagon trains from throughout California for the California Sesquicentennial Wagon Train. More than 70 wagons will make the trek from Camanche Reservoir, near Clements, Calif., to meet the tall ship California at the port of Stockton, June 27. The Mariposa County History Centers and Museums provide valuable insights into the most impressive migration of people in history. Long is a fascinating character who remembers the days when "animal-motive" power was the mode of transportation. He is one of the few who remember the jerk-line driving technique, writing about it in the commemorative publication of the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train.
  • The California Experience. The signature event of the Sesquicentennial commemoration in 2000, the California Experience includes an IMAX film that will be shown in 13 California cities and as many as 100 theaters worldwide. Other components of the California Experience include A Taste of California, an event that showcases California's lifestyle, wine and cuisine, and a traveling multimedia museum exhibit. The project is a joint effort to promote both tourism and economic development on an international scale while providing an in-state vehicle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of California's statehood.
  • Golden State Museum. Just opened in June, the Golden State Museum brings to life the story of California since statehood. Rather than being chronological, its arrangement is topical, with four exhibit gallery themes: the Place, the People, the Promise and the Politics of California. The Place, the first of the four galleries, interprets California's diverse landscape and the balance between the natural world and society. The People gallery tells of the journey and arrival of people from all over the world to California, and the development of the communities they call home. A striking and colorful
  • ceiling mural links the Promise gallery's "golden opportunities," which have drawn settlers to California since the Gold Rush. The panorama of opinion and innovation that marked California's formation as a state and its political scene since then frames the exhibits of the Politics gallery. The museum occupies the first two floors of the California Archives building in Sacramento.

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