Laura Macky Photography

Journey of a body on this earth


Hearst Castle

During our Thanksgiving holiday we toured Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.  What a place it is!   I was so fascinated by this place and the history of how one could accumulate so much wealth that I included a bit of history below should you be interested.  The image below is from one of the bedrooms there.

The architect, Julia Morgan (January 20, 1872 – February 2, 1957) designed more than 700 buildings in California including a mortuary near me in Oakland, California where many of my deceased relatives are.  I made a post about the mortuary some time ago which you can find here.

Hearst Castle Bedroom - San Simeon, California

Hearst Castle Bedroom – San Simeon, California

Hearst Family History

Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California in San Simeon.  It was designed by architect Julia Morgan, between 1919 and 1947 as a residence for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951.  In 1954 it became a California State Park and the site was opened to visitors in 1958.  Since that time it has been operated as the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts “millions of travelers each year”.

William Randolph Hearst was very rich to say the least.  A lot of us remember him as a newspaper magnate of the SF Examiner but he did not create his wealth from scratch.  That was done by his father, George Hearst, and what an amazing story!

George Hearst (September 3, 1820 – February 28, 1891) was a wealthy American businessman and United States Senator, and the father of newspaperman William Randolph Hearst.  George Hearst, of Scots-Irish origin, was born near present-day Sullivan, Missouri, to William G. Hearst and Elizabeth Collins.  George was raised in a log cabin on his family’s farm in rural Franklin County. His father operated three small farms, all of which were mortgaged, with slave labor.  George Hearst grew up before public education was widely accessible in Missouri, and so his elementary education was inconsistent and fragmented.  He supplemented the gaps in his formal education by observing the local mines, and reading information about minerals and mining in his free time.

When George Hearst’s father died in 1846, he took over the care of his mother, brother and sister. In addition, he did some mining and ran a general store.  He first heard of the discovery of gold in California in 1849.  Before deciding to depart, he continued to read further news on the subject so that he could be more certain it was true.  Finally, in 1850, as a member of a party of 16, he left for California.  After arriving in 1850, he and his companions first tried placer mining in the vicinity of Sutter’s Mill on the American River.  After spending a cold winter and making meager finds, they moved to Grass Valley on the news of a new lode.  Using his mining education and experience in Missouri, George switched to prospecting and dealing in quartz mines.  After almost ten years, Hearst was making a decent living as a prospector, and otherwise engaged in running a general store, mining, raising livestock and farming in Nevada County.

In the summer of 1859, Hearst learned of the wonderful silver assays of the “blue stuff” someone had picked up over what was to become the Comstock Lode, and sent to a Nevada County assayer.  Hearst hurried over to the Washoe district of western Utah territory, where he arranged to buy a one-sixth interest in the Ophir Mine there, near present-day Virginia City.  That winter, Hearst and his partners managed to mine 38 tons of high-grade silver ore, packed it across the Sierra on muleback, had it smelted in San Francisco, and made $91,000 profit (or roughly $3,550,000 in 2013 dollars).  (I can’t even IMAGINE traveling across the Sierras on muleback.  It must’ve been extremely difficult.)  It was the sight of the bars of Ophir silver that started the rush to Washoe.  George knew Marcus Daly from the Comstock Lode work, and in the summer of 1872 Daly suggested the possibilities of the Ontario silver mine in Park City, Utah.  The Ontario carried Hearst through the Panic of 1873 and produced seventeen million dollars in ten years.  Hearst later financed Marcus Daly to operate his Anaconda mine in Butte, Montana and acquired an interest in that mine as well.

After striking it rich, George made many investments.  One of his holding swas the SF Examiner (newspaper) which his son, William Randolph Hearst, took over and made even more money to build his castle on the hill in San Simeon.  He was inspired to build this castle from his childhood trips to Europe with his beloved mother.






Sunol Regional Wilderness and the Ohlone People (Gallery)

Yesterday we went to check out Sunol Regional Wilderness Park which is south of us about 30 minutes.  The day before I had pulled a muscle so badly in my back that I could hardly bend over to pick up my water from the coffee table and even sitting in a car was furthest from my mind.  But unbelievably I recovered in one day, thanks to my chiropractor who keeps me put together so I was able to take a drive with Dave to the park and even do a bit of hiking.

I laughed when we started this hike because the map said a “gentle” hike.  Oh really?????  Needless to say I’m out of shape but I’m working on it.  We took a 3 mile hike and I’d say more than half was straight up (which I didn’t realize would be the case before we started).  I didn’t really make an effort to bring a camera because I didn’t know we’d be hiking so I only had my iPhone.  There have been some adjustments made to some of the pictures on my iPhone apps.  Please click on the first image to see the best resolution and arrow forward to advance through the gallery.  I hope you enjoy our beautiful California hills!


What makes this area so special is the history of the Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan, which are Native American people of the central and northern California coast.  In 1776, when Spanish military and civilian settlers arrived in the Bay Area to establish military garrisons (presidios), Franciscan missions, and civil settlements (pueblos), life abruptly and dramatically changed for the native people of the San Francisco Bay Area.  With Spanish colonization, came the establishment of mission communities meant to supplant the existing tribal organization.  By 1810, introduced diseases, forced labor, and efforts to indoctrinate the indigenous peoples into an alien society and religion led to a tragic destruction of the way of life of Costanoan people.   It really was a gentrification of that time and a sad mark in California’s history.

Bedrock mortars used for pounding acorns by the Ohlone found in the area are reminders of Sunol’s first inhabitants of this area.  We saw some of these at the Ohlone Camp during our hike.  If you’d like to read more about the Ohlone people, please click here.

For the past century, the land known today as Sunol Regional Wilderness was used almost exclusively as ranch land.  Under the East Bay Regional Park District’s multi-use land management policy, cattle continue to graze in the 6,859-acre wilderness. Today, camping, picnicking, hiking, back-packing and equestrian trail rides attract thousands of park visitors a year. Visitors should bring drinking water because there is no drinking water in the park.





Garin Barn

Back at Garin Park, this time I have a picture of a barn for you.   It’s a visitor center now but once was the barn of Ukranian patriot, writer, and publisher Father Agapius Honcharenko and his wife Albina.

East Bay Regional Parks acquired the property in 1965.  Today little remains of the original farmstead except the barn, some remnant stone walls that appear to have lined the original drive to the barn, and a two acre orchard with 160 varieties of heritage apples.  So, for history lovers, bird watchers, hikers or wild flower seekers – this is a great spot.

I’ve included some history below in case you’re interested.  You can click on the image to see it larger.

Garin Barn - Antiqued Photograph

Garin Barn – Antiqued Photograph

Father Honcharenko and his wife Albina lived here for 43 years during their exile from Ukraine.  Born in Kiev in 1832, Honcharenko attended Kiev Theological Seminary and entered a monastery at 21.  He was appalled by the Church’s suppression of peasants while the monks lived in luxury.  This led him to dedicate his work to the overthrow of the feudal system in the Russian Empire.  His writings and activities earned him his revolutionary reputation among government officials.  Among freedom fighters and patriots, he was respected around the world.  Honcharenko faced many hardships including arrest warrants and death threats, forcing his escape to New York.  In 1867, while being stalked by Czarist police, he moved to San Francisco.  Finally in 1873, he was tracked to the west.  Honcharenko sought sanctuary on the remote farm they purchased in the Hayward hills.  For decades, they quietly tended their orchards, while Honcharenko remained a champion of the under classes. He died in 1916, a year after Albina’s death.”   The site is State Historic Landmark No. 1025.  Honcharenko and Albina are buried at the site.