On March 2, 2018 I drove up to Santa Rosa to learn more about the local history and to witness some of the fallout of the most destructive fire in Sonoma County, six months after it had occurred.
First, I went to the Sonoma County Historical Museum to visit the exhibits they had on the hunters of Grizzly bears before they became extinct in California. One famous California hunter was nicknamed “Grizzly Adams” for his exhibition of Grizzlies that he brought around the country.
Upstairs, within the museums art gallery of great western landscapes, I saw a former Internal Revenue Service vault that was kept inside the post office for the safekeeping of collected monies and documents by the former Deputy Collectors.
On the stairway, towards the exit, there was an unusual door that was placed over five feet above the other doors with no staircase attached to it. Staff used to have a stepladder to get to the door, which took them to a walkway on top of the former Post Office.
After, I finished touring the Sonoma County Museum I asked the staff what areas nearby had been damaged by the Sonoma fires in 2017. They told me that in FountainHead, north of the museum, there were several buildings that had burnt down within that part of Santa Rosa.
When I went to Fountainhead I saw the Fountain Grove Inn hotel, which was reduced to it’s basement level and it’s foundation. Further up the hill, where the hotel was based off of, I could see the leveled area around the outdoor swimming pool. The hotel was fenced off so that no one could get into the property.
A mile from there, was a shopping center I saw another fenced off building, which was a K-Mart that had been leveled so badly I didn’t know what store it was until a local within the shopping center told me. Within the parking lot, there were vehicles that had also been destroyed by the fire.
As a side note, in 2017, I visited the museum of Charles M. Shultz, the founder of the Peanuts comic and the ice rink that was next to it. That museum had the original desk that Charles M. Shultz sketched on and his original drawings. Unfortunately, that museum was one of the many structures that had been destroyed by the fire and the original pieces and artifacts there can never be replaced.
As you can see, for the rest of 2018, there is still much rubble to clear and rebuilding to be done in the residential and business districts in Sonoma County. While some historical documents can be digitalized, original artifacts cannot be replaced once they are lost by the destructive power of nature.