Cambrian: Opinion

Historical Society preserves past, creates future memories

If the walls at the Cambria Historical Museum at the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street could talk, they’d tell some of the same tales Jerry Praver will offer on July 17.
If the walls at the Cambria Historical Museum at the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street could talk, they’d tell some of the same tales Jerry Praver will offer on July 17. Special to The Cambrian

‘Hear ye, hear ye!” You’ve read all about it, you may have seen the display, and now you can hear all about it! Highway 1, which celebrated its 75th anniversary recently, will be the topic of Town Crier and history buff Jerry Praver, as he does a fascinating presentation at the Cambria Historical Museum as part of the new Small Group Speaker Series. And if you haven’t yet seen the permanent full-wall display in the museum, now is a good time, before the current exhibit of antique bicycles is retired mid-month.

The general public is invited to join members of the Historical Society at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 17, for hors d’oeuvres and beverages as Praver recounts the trials and tribulations of building an almost unbuildable roadway connecting Carmel with Cambria, a project which was spearheaded by Cambria’s favorite son, Senator Elmer Rigdon.

Because of limited space at the popular venue, advance reservations are required: members are admitted free, and the visitors’ fee is $10 (applicable to a new membership). Call Penny Church at 927-1442. Church is also accepting applications for new docents to be trained, along with local youth who were recruited to work in the museum as guides. We are proud of the enthusiasm generated by our docents for tourists and locals alike.

Elmer Rigdon is one of the noteworthy early day residents of Cambria who will be recognized on cast bronze plaques to be affixed on 26 structures in historic East Village. After extensive research to identify the original and earliest property owners who have made Cambria what it is today since its inception in the 1860s, and substantiating information through title searches,, and other major sources, Recognition Works of Atascadero is ready to forge the markers. Stay tuned for news of their installation later this summer.

During the investigative process, we have revised information for a new edition of a booklet to be published about historic East Village and summarized for our website and a walking tour tract. The project “grew like Topsy,” and in the process we acquired a certificate issued in 1966 by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recognizing Cambria’s centennial.

Furthermore, we acquired another issued in 1991 by the California State Legislature recognizing Cambria’s 125th year of foundation, and a first day issue of a commemorative postage stamp. We are not sure why the 1866 date was chosen, since Cambria was never incorporated as a city, and the U.S. Post Office officially recognized the community by name in January 1870.

Previously it had been called Santa Rosa, for its creek; and San Simeon for its census district, but both names were rejected because those towns already existed elsewhere in California. Peter Aloysius Forrester and others are credited with naming Cambria. Be that as it may, the Cambria Historical Society will proudly spearhead any and all celebration of our village’s sesquicentennial in 2016. We invite and encourage all who are in a position to join in and plan ahead to make that a special year!

Meanwhile, save the dates for this year’s Harvest Festival and Pie Baking Contest, Saturday, Oct. 11, Vine Dining on Sunday, Oct. 12, and an expanded farm tour on Monday, Oct. 13.