A historic winery, a firefighters museum, an electric trolley train ride, and a periscope view of downtown Vallejo -- all these and more were included at the Conference of California Historical Societies Spring Symposium held this year in Napa and Solano counties.

About 60 local historians from up and down the state started gathering Feb. 27 at a hotel in American Canyon.

Todd Shulman, a Napa police officer for 12 years, spoke on early law enforcement history in the county and told a rapt audience about the state's last public hanging. It happened in Napa in 1897 to William Roe, a bloodthirsty murderer. The fascinating part, at least to me, was that a Napa doctor obtained Roe's body and bleached his bones on the roof of one of Napa's prestigious buildings. The bones then were put together and used to teach Napa high school students the workings of the human skeleton.

On Feb. 28, we went to the Napa Firefighters Museum, where we saw the 1859 Jeffers hand pumper along with the city's first mechanized fire engine, complete with a 200-gallon water tank and wooden ladders. The docent, a former firefighter, told us that if they ran out of water, they would then get a refill, but a lot of fire could be put out with that first 200 gallons.

Next came a rainy walking tour of downtown Napa. We didn't melt, but we did get a little damp and were quite impressed when our guide, City Councilman Scott Sedgley, pointed out the building where Roe's bones were bleached.

After a fine lunch, we bused over to the Trefethen Winery, which is housed in a building that dates back to 1886. It was constructed of redwood by Scottish sea captain Hamden McIntire.

He also designed a gravity flow system. According to the Trefethen website, "a horse-drawn winch lifted the grapes to the third floor for crushing; gravity dropped the juice to the second floor for fermenting; and, eventually, the wine descended to the first floor for aging." McIntyre designed other wineries in the Napa Valley, but this was the only redwood one. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dinner was at Downtown Joe's. We sat overlooking the spot where Apple Creek flows into the Napa River and heard how Prohibition devastated the Napa wine industry.

On March 1, we were off to the Western Railway Museum. We took a ride on a 1906 trolley that formerly traveled between San Jose and Palo Alto. We viewed vintage electric trains that have been lovingly restored. We learned how the whole place is financed and operated by volunteers. Then we had lunch sitting in a dining car of the Sacramento Northern.

The symposium ended with a visit to the Vallejo Naval Museum and its famous periscope that goes through the second story roof of the former Vallejo City Hall to provide a view of the whole downtown.

Unfortunately it was at this spot our bus died, but we were rescued by a big yellow school bus, which added a bit of nostalgia to our symposium.

Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at nildarego@comcast.net.