North County historical societies sponsor summer treasure hunt

Nine of the 10 historical groups in the North County have joined forces to sponsor a summerlong treasure hunt.

From now through the end of August, the public is invited to visit those agencies in any order to pick up a “Treasure Chest” entry form. Participants must visit six of the nine sites over the next two months. The entry form, available at each site, lists all the groups participating.

You are asked two questions at each museum or historical site. You find the answers somewhere in the museum you are visiting. Those participating include Atascadero Historical Society, Cambria Historical Society, Camp Roberts Historical Museum, Estrella Warbird Museum, Paso Robles Historical Society, Pioneer Museum, Mission San Miguel Museum, Templeton Historical Museum Society and the Rios-Caledonia Adobe.Much of the joy of visiting the museums is the drive itself. In San Miguel, you drive on a portion of the original Mission Trail as you approach the old Caledonia Hotel and Rios family home.

Templeton’s museum is a single-family residence that was moved to its present site near an original Southern Pacific Railroad freight storage house. Mission San Miguel has recently been restored and reopened to visitors. It is a wonderful example of California’s 21 missions. Its rural setting, much like that of Mission San Antonio, only adds to its attraction.

Once you answer the question, a museum docent will stamp your entry form, and you continue on your way. One of the pieces of information you’ll be asked to answer in Atascadero, for example, is “What is a Twist-um?” Atascadero’s museum is the former Henderson family home that originally stood on El Camino Real where Rabobank now stands.

Earl Henderson managed the Atascadero Golf Course, which was just across the street (then the state highway). The new theater is being built over one of the greens.

A whole family can participate. Once you have completed the challenge, you drop off the form at the last museum you visit. At the end of the hunt, which is Aug. 31, forms that contain all the right answers will be eligible for a drawing.

Prizes include books on local history, meals at local restaurants, gift certificates, tickets for a Hearst Castle tour and vintage photographs and dolls.

The treasure hunt is the brainchild of Joyce Herman, curator at the Rios-Caledonia Adobe, and Betty Miller from the Estrella Warbird Museum. The goal of the contest is to get more people interested in the many museums and historical sites located in the North County.

The only group not participating is the newly formed Santa Margarita Historical Society, which doesn’t yet have a permanent site.