Katie’s Sightings

By Katie O’Hara Kelly

Cootlings, Goslings, and Ducklings!

American Coot (cootling) – Fulica americana

I met some friends over in Sierra Valley this past week, and we spotted this juvenile American Coot near the Steel Bridge! It was SO wildly colored and feathered! Its wispy, long, orange and yellow, downy feathers looked like a dyed feather boa! And its bright pink bald head and orange bill added to its overall “flamboyance”! What a cute, colorful surprise to find in the wetlands!

American Coot (cootling – adult) – Fulica americana

An adult Coot was diving repeatedly and surfacing with plants to feed the juvenile Coot or “cootling”! Both male and female parents feed the young coots. Since they are sexually monomorphic, I couldn’t tell if this was a male or female Coot. American Coots are not ducks. They are rails, and belong in the Rallidae family.

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On the Shelf

By Paul Guffin

The Twentieth of June

In this column, I often focus on what celebrations and observances happen during the various months of the year. This time, however, I thought it might be interesting to focus on a specific date — and, since I’m writing this column on Monday, I figured, why not use this date: June 20. So, here’s what I know and some of what I’ve discovered. (Also, a reminder: you can discover a lot of neat stuff like this in the Downieville Library.)

  • 1214: University of Oxford receives its charter
  • 1685: Monmouth Rebellion — James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, declares himself King of England
  • 1782: U.S. Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States (no, this isn’t a large mammal rescue)
  • 1787: At the Federal Convention, Oliver Ellsworth moves to call the government the “United States”
  • 1819: U.S. vessel SS Savannah arrives in Liverpool, the first steam-propelled vessel to cross the Atlantic (though it cheated most of the way by journeying under sail)
  • 1837: 18-year-old Victoria becomes Queen of England
  • 1840: Samuel Morse receives a patent for the telegraph
  • 1863: National Bank of Davenport, Iowa, becomes the first chartered bank in the United States
  • 1867: U.S. President Andrew Johnson announces the Alaska Purchase
  • 1877: Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 1893: Lizzie Borden is acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother
  • 1895: Caroline Willard Baldwin is the first female to earn a PhD from a U.S. university — Cornell University in science
  • 1903: Barney Oldfield accomplishes the first mile-a-minute performance in a car at Indianapolis, IN
  • 1919: Treaty of Versailles is signed
  • 1941: U.S. Air Force is established, replacing the Army Air Corps
  • 1943: Detroit race riot, with 35 killed
  • 1955: AFL-CIO formed by merger of American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • 1963: U.S. & Soviet Union sign agreement to establish hotline between Washington, DC, & Moscow
  • 1967: Linda & I get married
  • 1975: Movie Jaws is released
  • 1990: Asteroid Eureka is discovered
  • 1991: German Bundestag votes to move seat of government from Bonn to Berlin
  • 2001: World Refugee Day established on 50th anniversary of Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (originally this was known as Africa Refugee Day)

What’s New on the Shelves of the Downieville Library

Some new residents in our library community:


  • A Highland Christmas, by M.C. Beaton (mystery)
  • Final Flight, by Stephen Coonts (thriller)
  • Notorious Nineteen, Takedown Twenty, Top Secret Twenty-One, by Janet Evanovich (mystery)
  • The Dark Wind, by Tony Hillerman (mystery)
  • The Bitter Season, by Tami Hoag (mystery)


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Here Back East

By Lenny Ackerman

Father’s Day

Growing up in upstate New York in the 1950s, what I remember most clearly about Father’s Day are the homemade gifts we worked on for weeks in advance during shop class, before school closed for the summer. One year I labored over the construction of a tie rack, designed like a cowboy holding a long stick, over which the ties would drape in a row. Like my father even wore ties?

Anyway, that was the task for all of us kids, to come up with something showing great effort for our fathers. By the time I was in high school, shop class long behind me, my mother would choose a Father’s Day gift from the family. Despite her frugality, a week before Father’s Day my mother and I would take the bus downtown to buy dad a gift—usually something he could wear to work, like winter gloves or a flannel shirt—all on sale during the summer. Afterward, we would walk over to dad’s parking lot and wait for him to close up. Then we would all ride home together, his present hidden in mom’s shopping bag.

My mother’s gift to my dad on Father’s Day was to cook his favorite meal for dinner – beef brisket with sides of baked potatoes and roasted carrots, followed by chocolate cake. Before sitting down to eat, my dad downed a shot of whiskey. Then he dug into mom’s dinner like it was his last supper. No restaurant could offer the same level of satisfaction and happiness as his favorite meal homecooked by my mom. Whether the children attended this sumptuous meal on Father’s Day was beside the point with dad. My sister usually found a reason to drop off a present and skipped out on the dinner. My brother always seemed to be somewhere else—college, law school or selling something. With mom in the kitchen, I was usually my dad’s sole companion and of course I watched what I said and how I responded to any questions he threw at me. “Yes, school was fine.” “No I was not looking forward to summer because I am not going to camp.” That one was my attempt to get him to agree with mom that I have two weeks away at Camp Seneca. Usually between the first and second helping dad would be amenable to discussing the camp request which usually was about the cost.

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Sheriff’s Log

By Jen Henneke

Monday, June 13

06:34 – In Loyalton, a bovine was running loose on the road. Both the owner and CHP were notified.

09:09 – A Palomino Mustang was lost and seen heading north from the Truckee area.

15:45 – Multiple bovines were observed running loose above Sierra Brooks. The owner was contacted.

16:27 – In Sierraville, agency assistance was requested for dealing with a camper who had not paid their campsite fees. That is considered stealing.

Tuesday, June 14

12:47 – In Loyalton, the bovine anarchy continued with more running loose.

20:07 – Another escapee, this time a horse departed from Calpine.

Wednesday, June 15

08:13 – In Loyalton, Eastern Plumas Health Care Ambulance was requested.

09:02 – In Downieville, there were shots possibly fired at a bear. Fish and Wildlife was notified.

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Ghosts of Sierrans Past: Truckee’s Chinatown

By Duncan A. Kennedy

Truckee is today a bustling town of about 16,000, where myriad tourists come to ski, shop or unwind, while trucks transit the town via Interstate 80, one of our nation’s largest transportation arteries. Yet this destination, which markets itself for its historic character and authenticity, is missing what was once one of its’ most notable components – a Chinese-American commercial district. And Truckee didn’t just boast any average Chinatown; at its height, Truckee’s Chinatown was the second-largest in the Western United States, behind only San Francisco’s now globally famed community. So, what happened?

During the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad from 1868 to 1869, Chinese immigrant laborers were recruited by the Central Pacific Railroad upon arrival in the states. These immigrants were refugees fleeing a bloody civil war started by a failed local bureaucrat who grossly misinterpreted pamphlets he received from a Protestant missionary and awoke from a fever shortly thereafter claiming to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ; the war was bloody and riddled with famine, so it is little wonder that these emigrants fled for less war-torn reaches of the globe. Ultimately, these Chinese immigrant laborers proved to be the saving grace of the railroad, being key in helping connect Salt Lake City, UT, with Sacramento, CA.

A great number of these immigrants settled in Truckee, constructing a Chinatown of their own in the town. This first Chinatown, according to a Sierra Sun article by local history buff Corri Jimenez, was located in a triangular district of town uphill from downtown proper, bounded by Spring and Jibboom streets. Today, this area is home to a few small businesses and some private residences, but in the 1860s and 1870s, one could find laundries, clinics, stores, saloons, brothels, a gambling hall, and a fairly comfortable hotel. At the 1870 Census, 407 people out of a town population of 1,467 were Chinatown residents; many of them were employed as woodcutters in the surrounding forest.

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