The picturesque little ore cars in Gibson Museum's front garden were once used to haul tons and tons of quicksilver ore from the tunnels to the ovens at the Socrates Mine. They were donated by Calpine Corp. and installed by our volunteers Calvin Higgins and Tom Hicks who both work at Calpine, which is now the most productive geothermal energy plant in the world.
The Windows to the Past display was constructed by Tim and Janet Salsbury for the 2011 Eco-Arts festival in Trailside Park. The display was a favorite of the thousands of visitors, so we were very excited when they volunteered to reconstruct it for the Gibson Museum.
The Hidden Valley Lake Garden Club's maintenance of Gibson Museum's gardens, under the leadership of Elizabeth Moore, is the recipient of numerous compliments by museum visitors and passersby.
Help us collect the history of the Neuman Fence
We are collecting information about the Neuman Fence, which seems to attract more comments than any of our other displays.
We know that Al and Bea Neuman moved to Lake County from the East Bay in 1959. Al was a plumber and general handyman - Gehlen Palmer recalls that, as a youth, he watched him erect a flagpole. The Neumans opened an antique shop. Both became moderately active in local affairs.
Al apparently started constructing his signature fence soon after his arrival. Using bits and pieces from here and there, sections appeared over the years — one by one — on the perimeters of their home at the corner of Calistoga and Callayomi streets (now the sheriff's substation, across Callayomi from the Gibson Museum).
Local residents both admired and ridiculed the burgeoning fence. But over time it became a part of their lives, a taken-for-granted part of their environment, and most became quite fond of it.
When Al died in 1983, the fence almost surrounded their property. Whether he considered it "done" we will never know. There would have been space for a couple more sections. Bea retained her pride in the fence until her death in 2004.
Shortly after that, the fence disappeared!
Middletown missed the fence, but not much concerted effort was made to locate it. Then, the Neuman heirs contacted Lake County officials offering to sell the fence. The incomparable Kelly Cox, then county administrator, talked the heirs into donating the fence to the county.
Greg Dills, of the Ely Stage Stop volunteers, deserves kudos for retrieving the fence from the heirs' property in Fort Bragg and bringing it back to Lake County. Parts of it were installed at the Ely Stage Stop, where alert visitors from Middletown recognized it, and negotiated its move back home.
We’ve been told that each section represents a local ranch. Bits and pieces of information to support that theory are coming in.
If you have any information about the Neuman Fence, even if it seems minor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Nina (707-987-2349).