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  • Kearney Mansion MuseumKearney Mansion Museum Fresno, California
    The Kearney Mansion Museum is just 7 miles from downtown Fresno and contains two buildings, the main house and adjacent servants' quarters, and was built in 1903. The buildings were designed in the French Renaissance architectural style and constructed with the numerous materials that were available in the area. The Victorian stock moldings were all built by the employees of M. Theo Kearney and have two foot thick walls of unstabilized adobe brick, covered over by a thin coating of plaster so that it would be waterproof. The rectangular structures are topped by a complex roof structure that was influenced by the Schwab residence in New York City, that was also a copy of the Chateau de Chenonceaux. With high roofs, elaborate pinnacles, dormer windows, simple ridgemolding and lofty chimneys that have made wonderful and picturesque skyline. The insides of both structures contain the ordinary Victorian details for crown moldings, trim, stair railings and fireplaces. The wall finishing's in the main house were imported from France, designed by Kearney's suggestions of colorful and detailed scenic adaptations for the wallpapers. Theo wanted to make these part of a bigger complex that would be called Chateau Fresno and got numerous architects that included Maurice Hebert, Thomas E. Collcutt and Willis Polk to design it all. The mansion that stands there today was not the primary residence that Kearney desired, but instead was to be the caretaker's lodge; but he lived there until his much more elaborate chateau was finished. He passed on in 1906, and this was all that was completed. The mansion museum is run by the Fresno City and County Historical Society and showcases over half the original furnishings that include the wallpapers from France and the special art nouveau light fixtures. Copies of the carpeting and other wallpapers were used where the original was lost. The servants' quarters is where the museum store is. The small estate is located in the 225 acre Chateau Fresno Park, that was changed to Kearney Park, and started by Kearney in 1892. The well known American architect, Rudolph Ulrich, came from New York to lay out the design of the park and the boulevard that goes up to it. During the following 14 years, Kearney transformed the flat and bare land into one of the most exotic parks in the nation today. As the century turned, the park could have contained more varieties of trees, shrubs, roses and vines than any other park in the country, and the San Francisco Chronicle said it was the most beautiful park on the west coast. The exquisite 11 mile long boulevard that runs from downtown Fresno to the park was lined with 18,000 pink and white oleanders entwined in between the alternating palms and eucalyptus. Kearney was a major contributor to the agricultural development of the county and state, starting his career in Fresno by managing the Central California Colony development for W. S. Chapman and Bernard Marks of San Francisco. He created a subdivision system that included all the fencing and irrigation for the lots and had them given cooperatively. That way, the middle class farmers that came here could begin their farming without actually having to give a huge amount of money right up front. He would later promote numerous developments by himself, and these included the Fruit Vale Estate to the west and the Easterby Colony to the east of the city. He advertised the Fresno county all around, using different attractive promotional pamphlets that depicted Fresno as the next Garden of Eden. During the period from 1898 to 1905, he became associated with the California Raisin Growers Association, striving to stabilize the industry with a tight knit association, eliminating middle men and improving the product for the market. Although at the time, it looked like his efforts didn't work, the Sun Maid Raisin Company was subsequently begun on a lot of his managerial principles. By 1899, he had already decided to leave his estate to the Regents of the University of California, hoping they would raise a college of agriculture there, using the chateau as an administration building and the park as the campus. When he passed, he had an estate worth $1.5 million and 5400 acres of farm land. The university had sold all the land except for that located in the park, by 1949, and that was leased to the county and then in 1962, the mansion was leased to the city and county historical society to be used as a museum.

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  • Yosemite National ParkYosemite National Park Fresno, California
    Yosemite National Park spans the east parts of Mariposa, Madera and Tuolumne counties in east central California. It spreads across 761,266 acres and goes across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and visited by more than 3.5 million people each and every year. The majority of those visitors spend most of their time in the small 7 square mile area of the Yosemite Valley. The entire site was made a World Heritage Site in 1984 and it is famous for its magnificent granite cliffs, biological diversity, crystal clear streams, giant Sequoia groves and waterfalls; and about 95% of it is wilderness. It wasn't the first national park in the nation, but was important in developing the national park idea, owing mostly to the work of John Muir and Galen Clark. It is one of the biggest and least fragmented habitat regions in the Sierra Nevadas, supporting a large diversity of animals and plants. The elevation varies between 2000 feet and 13,114 feet, with five vegetation zones; the oak/chaparral woods, the lower and upper montane, subalpine and alpine. The state has 7000 plant varieties and around half of those can be found in the mountains and over a fifth can be observed in the park. The habitat is quite suitable for over 160 rare plants, with even rarer geologic formations and special soils that can be seen by the areas of these plants. The geology is mostly characterized by the magnificent granitic rocks and remains of ancient rocks. The formation began over 10 million years ago and after much heaving, rising and shifting, these beautiful areas are the results. The park is in the midst of a fantastic range of wilderness, with the Ansel Adams Wilderness to the southeast, the Emigrant Wilderness north and the Hoover Wilderness in the northeast. Yosemite is over 1100 square miles and about the size of the state of Rhode Island, with thousands of lake and ponds, streams, hiking trails, and roads. All the landforms in the park were cut from the granitic rock of the Sierra Nevada batholith, which is a huge mass of intrusive igneous rock that was made far below the surface, and almost 5% of the landforms are sedimentary and metamorphosed volcanic rocks. The valley is only a percent of the area of Yosemite Park, although it is the most popular and visited, with the majority of the visitors coming here and staying. It has grown into one of the most popular rock climbing venues in the world because of its diversity in formations and it is accessible the year round. Sentinel Rock and Half Dome are two of the beautiful granite domes that rise up 3000 and 4000 feet above the floor of the valley, while the high country has more spectacular areas like Dana Meadows, the Cathedral Range, the Kuna Crest, Tuolumne Meadows and the Clark Range. Pacific Crest Trail and the Sierra crest spans the park with peaks of red metamorphic rock like Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs and granite peak like Mount Conness. Mount Lyell is the highest peak in the park and there are three magnificent giant Sequoia groves, the Merced, Mariposa and Tuolumne. These are the biggest trees in the world and live longer than any other, and were more widespread before the ice age.

January 11, 2011