It took us a little over four hours to get to Yosemite last month, and as we traveled over the smooth asphalt I remembered reading about a trip that a group of Martinez and Pacheco residents took in 1892 to the same place.
It took them a good part of a week to get there with a lot more stuff than we had to take.
Emily and George Wolford had been in California a few years when they persuaded their widowed mother, Charlotte, to chaperone a jaunt to Yosemite Valley in June 1892.
Emily was 17 and still in school. Her brother was a partner in a candy shop in Martinez.
The Concord Sun on June 18 reported the beginnings of the journey.
"A party of tourists, composed of Mrs. C.B. Wolford, Miss Emily Wolford, Miss Flora Minaker, George Wolford, Arthur Coleman and Arthur Minaker, started off Thursday for the Yosemite Valley.
"A well-loaded freight wagon followed the carriage conveying the party, the supplies being extensive enough to keep the party in excellent condition during their long ramble through the famed valley.
"They are also well-supplied with arnica, sticking plaster, lint (bandages), collodion (a sticky liquid used to keep the bandages in place), etc. The ladies carry parasols to frighten any mastodon that might happen along, and the gentlemen (have) trusty rifles and fishing tackle. The party will have a magnificent time, and if they escape the ravages of mosquitoes and poison oak will look ten years younger when they return to Pacheco and Martinez."
By 1892, Yosemite was becoming popular. Stages and saddle trains had been available into the valley since 1875, when three wagon toll roads were constructed. The two-day trip from Stockton cost $16. In 1886, the state bought out the private road owners.
The Wolfords were neighbors of famed naturalist John Muir. The same month the Wolfords were camping, Muir was organizing the Sierra Club and struggling to have the nation take back the responsibility of caring for Yosemite from the state, which was doing a dismal job.
A Yosemite Valley publication wrote, "This party is from Martinez and being neighbors of Prof. Muir of Yosemite fame, they were well prepared to enjoy and appreciate their two weeks' camping here. They are on the Royal Arch grounds."
The Wolford group joined other campers for evenings of entertainment around a campfire.
Emily Wolford and Flora Minaker sang solos and danced on the green grass, a novel experience for the women, who had been used to waxed wooden floors.
The Wolford party's return home July 16 was reported in the Concord Sun.
"No more this season will the festive mosquito sport around the fair features of the Martinez and Pacheco maidens. ... (They) returned home Thursday, safe and sound with their camping outfit and with many thrilling experiences condensed in a tour of just 28 days."
Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at firstname.lastname@example.org.