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Culture & Heritage

Local Voices
Photo by Charlie Phillips

Bake pizza in a stone bread oven built by early 20th century Basque sheep-herders, poke into dusty corners of an old ghost town, create woven baskets out of hand-picked grasses and reeds, slosh river water in a pan and scan the silt for gold, awake in a hut surrounded by meadow wildflowers, relax on the patio of an old stagecoach lodge, taste wine at a historic cattle ranch, eat local mandarins whose fruit from decades-old trees is especially sweet, boogie under the stars to the live music of Celtic, bluegrass or R&B bands. Thanks to energetic visionaries, fun-loving volunteers, and a few cantankerous stalwarts, all preservers of the Sierra’s cultural artifacts and traditions, it’s possible to relive the past, rejoice in artistic expression, and contemplate the future among the range's peaks, valleys and rolling foothills.

Museums, historical sites, festivals, celebrations and classes offer countless portals into the many ways that people have shaped the Sierra and the Sierra has shaped people. Artifacts record the stories of successive men and women from diverse backgrounds and experiences who have enriched the mountain culture. The stories unfold in petroglyphs, books, music and dancing festivals, art workshops and exhibitions, cave tours, gold-mine museums, scenic byways, interpretive trails, funky old lodges still serving loyal customers, and rustic mountain hut systems providing shelter for people who get away from it all. Together, the Sierra’s cultural and historical treasures inspire the contemplation of life’s big questions: “Who are we?” “What have we accomplished?” and “Where are we going?”