The anticipated arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad traveling through the recently completed Cuesta Tunnels was a major moment in San Luis Obispo’s history. May 5, 1894, was “celebrated with a band, barbecue and cannon fire as the train pulled in. The evening finished with fireworks and a grand ball.”
It was an event that Federico Fellini might have memorialized in film. The remains of a young woman of about 16 were found in Rome’s ancient catacombs in 1853. A marble inscription on her tomb read, “to the soul of the innocent and pure Vibiana.” A laurel wreath that early Christians used to symbolize martyrdom was chiseled above her name.
Utopian communities have long been drawn to California. The three-story Coffee T. Rice home, which now stands in the middle of a mobile home park along Highway 1, was bought by the Theosophical community and became the Halcyon Hotel and Sanitarium, attracting patients from throughout the United States.
“The Box: A Memoir” recounts tragedies that befell families decades apart in San Luis Obispo and Vietnam. Lynne Ludwick Higgins wrote the book decades after her uncle, Eddy Schultz, died during the Vietnam War.