By Harriet Codeglia
The Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society (STCHS) was created in 1987 by a group of local residents who were devoted to the preservation and recording of local history. Groveland and Big Oak Flat were gold rush boom towns which survived afterwards as a gateway to Yosemite National Park. These concerned citizens decided to build a museum, which is no simple feat for such small towns. How does a tiny town pay for such a major construction project? It would only be possible with a lot of dedication, hard work, planning and heartfelt belief that this COULD be done.
It was achieved by grants from the Sonora Area Foundation, a public minded organization; fund raising projects such as concerts, picnics, book sales, dinners, speakers and plays; monetary donations from businesses and the people of the area; donations of architectural designs, physical labor, equipment and materials, and legal advice; memorials; and Charlie-the-Can-Man and his volunteer crew's collection of nearly $50,000 worth of aluminum cans. A piece of land was donated by the local water company. With intense dedication, great energy and many donated goods and services, the museum project was underway. Groundbreaking took place in 1999 on the building that would house a museum and a branch of the Tuolumne County Library. The building was completed in October of 2000 and was officially opened in May of 2001. The Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum is staffed exclusively by volunteers and has welcomed visitors from all over the world.
STCHS proudly continues to preserve the local history of Big Oak Flat and Groveland and to educate the citizens and visitors about local, regional and natural history. We continually refresh the exhibits in the museum and offer a bookstore stocked with books, souvenirs and other items of interest.
A major accomplishment was completed a few years ago when two amazing volunteers and board members completed writing a pictorial history of the region, “Groveland and Big Oak Flat”, published by Arcadia Publishing.
STCHS funds its operations with two major fundraisers: The springtime Wine Tasting Cruise on Pine Mountain Lake, and the Labor Day Barbecue. Membership dues and monetary donations help a lot. We always need volunteers during these fundraisers, plus for special projects, occasional grounds cleanup days, and all year around as docents. Contact the museum at email@example.com and tell us what you would love to do.
Currently we are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 until 2 pm. Call the museum for current hours (209) 962-0300. Come see us! Check out our website: www.grovelandmuseum.org or see us on Facebook at Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum.