Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Past is Present in Placerville No. 7: Those old High School Steps

Good morning - Tina here, and today my post is written by a new follower, Jim of Camino, who commented on the post I did a couple of weeks ago about the old El Dorado County High School on Clay Street. I had attempted to locate the mysterious steps, and Jim went looking for me because I am not getting around as easily as I used to these days. He was kind enough to send to me these photos and comments after his exploration. Below are his photos and text:
Thank you Tina for showing me how to find the steps up the hill to the old high school on Clay. Remember the photo you took of the brambles, directing me to wade through so that I might find the remains of the steps up the hill? It really wasn’t necessary to bushwhack at all to see the steps. Had you been mobile enough to leave your car & walk up the high sidewalk opposite the Blair House, your eyes could have follow the quite-well-preserved line of steps all the way up the hill.
Yup, still there since this c.1915 photo, but I could only find 53 steps.

You instructed me to to walk northward up Clay from Main Street, walk until I came to the Blair House. And so I did.
The Beautiful Blair House:

Notice the high, rising sidewalk below the Blair House:

The sidewalk continues into the brambles:

The sidewalk & high school steps intersect inside the brambles
!!! Voila !!!

See, Tina, being inside your car, your field of view was just below that needed to spy the steps. :0) Tall boots and a machete weren't needed at all if I had dared to climb to the old steps from Clay. But, I've been verbally chastised for trespassing private property quite enough lately. Embarrassing, and perhaps dangerous, so, instead, I walked up Grandview to what I think is public property to do my trespassing.
My gosh! Looking good after all these years. Not just crumbling remnants at all.

At the hilltop I did, indeed come across a NO TRESPASSING sign near the back parking lot of the abandoned government (I'm thinkin') building. But, heck! "I'm here!" (It would be wiser to seek permission. I don't know from where.) That's the Blair House off to the left and the top of the school steps is just beyond that piece of fence.
Dazzling photo, Jim. Gonna frame it?

And just to the right of the piece of fence...a trail, sorta, through the weeds.

Down we go......

Up we go.......

Most steps are in very good, safe, shape as shown in the top photo. The few dislodged steps directly above actually seem out of place. I'd guess the stairway continued to be used long after the school was torn down. The high sidewalk below the Blair House plus the steps might have been a handy, favorite pedestrian trek-way up the hill. The steps are not at all as breath-stealingly steep as they appear climbing to the high school in the old photos. And I counted about 20 less than the 72 steps someone boldly asserted/printed on that one postcard photo. Don't know. Things change.
And "things change" brings us to something I've been puzzling over since Tina's blog about the steps running alongside Blair House.
Notice the significant angle the steps subtend from Clay Street.

Notice the near perpendicularity of the steps as they rise from the high sidewalk below Blair House and rise from Clay Street.......
The straight line of steps angle leftward very little, if at all (???).

The Blair House also presently sits at an angle,not quite facing Clay Street, though fairly parallel to the steps. Being unable to find step remnants rising perpendicular to Clay, up a steep hill, is the reason I've looked, searched, in vain for the sight of the old high school. Tina, after finding your August 2010 blog a few months ago, stating that remnants of steps probably remain, I became rather possessed, head spinning, body pirouetting, (quite a silly mental picture, a pirouetting man on the Clay Street hill; that's why I wrote it),searching for those remnants of steps. Ha!
A couple pulled their car to the curb and asked if I was all right. "Oh, yes!"
"Are you sure?"
Betcha they thought I had wandered from the new senior apartment up the hill and gotten myself lost. Ha ha!
Anyway, has Clay been realigned or does an illusion (delusion?) have me confused? I'm thinking it's illusion, perhaps a product of camera lenses and photographer locus but, my, compare the two photos, new vs. old. Now that's some illusion!
One thing for certain. The steps pop-out at the southern corner, toward Main St.,of the present building on the hill. Either Simon Drive passes through where the southern one third of the high school stood or the entire high school was aligned such that it faced somewhat southerly. I'm thinking both.
Bulldozers shape/reshape landscapes much, much faster than nature's unhurried, yet steadfast and dynamic, pace.

Tina again - and I just wanted to thank Jim in Camino for being our guest Blogger today, and for researching this fascinating (if only to us Placerville folk) subject.


Anonymous said...

Tina, to include more info to further fascinate GC Girls’ fans, the bright strip, bottom left in the old pic, would be 1915 Clay Street, a narrow dirt road. Lower Alder, a narrow dirt road just below my house looks exactly like the bright strip in the pic. Yesterday, sitting on a railing of the beautiful old bridge (soon to be demolished) where Clay crosses P’ville Creek, I & youngsters smoking funny cigarettes determined the width of the bridge to be an indicator of the width of olden-day Clay—two autos barely squeak a pass on the bridge.

Sighting up the street we saw how Clay could easily have been realigned, forming the angles that puzzled me. It’s also apparent that the construction of Hwy 50 shifted, if not gutted, P’ville considerably. (Such ruin is rare nowadays. Note how new speedways up & down Hwy 49 now bypass historic towns.)

A cloud of funny cigarette smoke wafted near, I took a few deep breaths, then floated on up the hill to home in Camino. J;O)

Helen said...

I love old photos and trying to find just where they were taken. Time makes things appear so different than from memory. What I thought was a huge area has shrunken to a small yard. Buildings that were skyscrapers now appear only a couple of stories high. And the landscaping changes things too. Thanks for a trip down memory lane, (even though I didn't trapse down there before today)

Jennifer D said...

Well I have never been to placerville but I find all this fascinating. Thanks for the trip!

yosemite faith said...

fantastic pictures jim. what a nice addition tina, to your post. he did a 'bang up' job and am really glad that someone else found your historical posts, which i love, and that it sent him a quest. so glad, jim, that you guest blogged today. thanks for your time, effort, and of course info/photos!