If you enjoy stories about California history, then this book is for you: Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots and Rogues, by Gary Noy. I saw the author last night at Lyon Books; he brings the Sierra Nevada to life with stories about the people and their “magnificent peculiarities.”
Some of these personalities you have probably heard of, like Lola Montez, the exotic “Spanish” dancer (born in Ireland), the artist Albert Bierstadt, whose paintings of the Sierra were more beautiful than the original, and the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, famous for his “moving pictures” photos and for shooting his wife’s lover. But most of them are forgotten today, ones like beloved soprano Kate Hayes, the “Swan of Erin” and Okei Ito, founder of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Company.
Each chapter is short, but packed with entertaining information, and each chapter ends with another little related story, making for 64 stories all told. Gary Noy selected these 64 from some 300 stories he has collected over the years as he roamed the byways of the Sierra Nevada and delved into the archives of California history.
It is impossible to pick a favorite story, but one of the best is the tale of “The Ultimate Thrill” of riding the Bonanza V flume near Virginia City at a speed so fast that it seemed to “annihilate time and space.”
Pick this book up and you will enjoy every chapter.