I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.
Grizzly Adams trapped bears in Corral Hollow
By Barry Schrader.................................March
The saga of Grizzly Adams has been immortalized in books and even a
TV series using his name. The real Grizzly Adams was a bonafide "Mountain
Man" and was also known as the "Wild Yankee." He spent time
in the eastern end of the Livermore Valley, known as Corral Hollow, in 1855
and again in 1856.
Thanks to local historian Ann Homan, who directed me to the book "Carrel
of Corral Hollow" by Earle Williams, I found more details of his stays
in this area, in addition to what I had learned from the book "The
Legend of Grizzly Adams" by Richard Dillon.
Adams operated a wildlife museum called the Mountaineer Museum in San Francisco,
but made hunting expeditions as far as Yosemite to collect specimens as
well as trap bears, which he also exhibited in San Francisco, plus selling
others to zoos around the country.
In 1855 Adams first visited the Zink House at Corral Hollow, an inn owned
by Edward Carrell and Horatio Wright. They provided provisions for his hunting
expedition. Adams was accompanied by his two favorite pet Grizzlies-Lady
Washington and Ben Franklin--plus his greyhound dog named Rambler. Adams
found this an ideal hunting area due to the plentiful deer, antelope, elk,
panthers, and the big bears.
Adams and a helper built bear traps in different canyons of Corral Hollow,
constructed of heavy native logs, five by ten feet and about four feet high.
Each was fitted with a trap door with a "double deadfall" trigger
of Adams' invention. The traps were baited with fresh meat of game they
had killed, or sometimes even honey and a sugar-based concoction that would
lure the bears. These "cages" were pinned together with hardwood
pegs and also pinned to the ground. Apparently they were effective, as the
books report he captured several bears using that method. One location was
described as Devil's Den which was a half mile north of Tesla (a later coal
mining town) in a deep ravine.
Adams dressed in a coat and pantaloons of buckskin, fringed at the edges.
On his head was a cap of deerskin ornamented with a foxtail, while on his
feet he wore buckskin moccasins. The outfit was made for him by Indian friends.
He carried a rifle and a hunting knife. These were the weapons of choice
he used in hunting grizzlies, sometimes at close range with the knife. The
books also reported he visited the Robert Livermore rancho more than once.
His museum in San Francisco was eventually bought out by P.T. Barnum, who
also used Adams and his animals in his traveling circus. The end came for
Adams at age 48 in 1860 due to complications from old injuries he had suffered
while fighting bears. He had succumbed while at the home of his wife and
daughter in Neponset, Mass. and was buried in Charlton, Mass. far from his
beloved grizzlies back in San Francisco.
In 1882 the Livermore press reported that a grizzly had been killed at Cresta
Blanca out Arroyo Road, the last of the big bears found in this valley.
* * *
Instead of a history mystery this week, I am seeking a young girl's
full name. In 1994 a third grader at Sunset School in Livermore wrote a
thank you note to Tilli Calhoun who had brought the Livermore Heritage Guild's
Historymobile (an RV turned into a museum on wheels) to the school for a
lesson in local history. The girl signed her letter Lindsey B. Now Ann Homan
would like to use that letter in her upcoming history book, but needs the
girl's permission. Can anyone help us find her?
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551