On The Map: Madera

On The Map: Originals

In the early days of its statehood, California was all about making money. Some things never change. But one particular company can claim that their business literally put this place… on the map.

Back in the late 1800s gold wasn’t the only valuable resource in the Sierra Nevada.

There was also timber.

But you had to get the timber from the Sierra Nevada to the rail line where it could be transported.

Now we use trucks, but back then we used gravity.

William Thurman was the founder of the California Lumber Company.

That company built a flume that would hold water and allow the felled trees to float from the Sierra Nevada all the way to the valley floor… a trip that measured 64 miles.

The end of that flume met up with the railroad at a spot in Fresno County, and a town sprang up around it.

Well, the timber would ride that flume all the way down to a point in the San Joaquin Valley where it would meet up with the railroad.

That town that grew up around that point was called “timber”, or “lumber”, or “wood”.

All of those terms are wrapped up in one tidy Spanish word…

Madera… on the map of Madera County.

Oh, by the way, did you hear me say Fresno county a few seconds ago.

Well, I did… because it was

The Fresno river “flows” through Madera.

In fact, Fresno County was quite a bit larger back in the day.

And if you think politics are nasty now, wait until you hear about the shenanigans that were pulled to make Madera its own county.

But that’s another story.

With Emily Lucas behind the camera, I’m A.J. Fox

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