Books Published by
Manzanita Writers Press
The History of Sonora Pass and Its People: 1860-1960
Released in paperback and hardcover — Cate Culver’s historical journey of the Sierra mountain community of Sonora Pass.
Sonora Pass, located north of the famous Tioga Pass that leads to Yosemite, is not well known. Extremely steep, and carved into granite like much of the Sierra, the pass is a hidden jewel. Who were the people who built the roads, established resorts, grazed cattle, constructed dams, made movies, and built cabins on Sonora Pass? A community unto itself, Sonora Pass has a rich history, and Cate Culver has unearthed and recorded the stories and information that would have been lost to time.
In 1944 Cate Culver’s family purchased a cabin near Eagle Creek east of Dardanelle. From her earliest childhood, Cate spent summers at breakfast tables and around campfires, listening to the stories and learning the history of Sonora Pass. Getting out old black-and-white photographs often started the conversation. Cate realized that the history and the photographs needed to be recorded and saved. She began several years of research, including interviews with family members and friends of the original Sonora Pass pioneers. Over ninety of the old-timers were interviewed in person and many are brought to life in this remarkable history of the men and women who pioneered Sonora Pass.
The result is the only book of its kind, documenting the history of Sonora Pass from 1860-1960. This collection is even more poignant and valuable today, since the Donnell Fire ravaged much of the area in 2018.
About the Author
Cate Culver makes her home in California’s Sierra foothills. After her twenty-five -year career in Oakland and Sacramento as a graphic artist in advertising, she and her husband Jerry relocated to Mountain Ranch where she pursued her passion for painting, capturing the natural grace and power of the California region. They now reside in Tuolumne County.
The family summer cabin of Cate’s childhood located at Dardanelle on Sonora Pass inspired her to write her first book. The Untold History of Sonora Pass and Its People: 1860 to 1960 chronicles the fascinating hundred years of development along Sonora Pass and the unforgettable people who put their stamp on the land.
Cate served as Calaveras County’s historian for eleven years, developing her skills for meticulous research. As a graphic artist, Cate designed every page in the book and included a sprinkling of her art. Combined with her natural curiosity and primary source interviews, she brings life to the towering beauty of the Sonora Pass and the intrepid spirit of its people.
In memory of my parents Edson and Ruth Wells Caldwell and my sister Constance Lucile Fry who were all history enthusiasts.
Bed Bumps – An early reader for children, from ages 2-9.
Illustrations by the author, Monika Rose
Monika Rose, teacher, author, poet, editor
Sneak peek inside!
Thomas White –
Soldier By Chance:
Memories of Vietnam
Thomas White was born in 1946 and grew up in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. After two years of college, he was drafted in 1966 and sent to Vietnam. Somewhat disillusioned after returning home from the war, he let go of his dream of becoming an art teacher and built houses as a carpenter.
After working in the Bay Area for six years, Tom bought two hundred acres of remote and undeveloped land in the rugged foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Over the next forty years, Lightning Ridge Ranch slowly became a real one, with a house, barns, horses, and goats. His handcrafted home on the high ridge offered commanding views of rolling hills, perennial creeks, and distant mountains. His Gold Country landscape was wrapped in lush stands of pine and oak. While working the Ranch, he also established himself as an artist, actor, and woodworker.
In 1993, the Old Gulch Fire burned for five days and reached the edge of Tom’s property. In 2015, the Butte Fire roared onto the Ranch taking more than 150 acres. His herd of goats had kept the brush down and saved his house and barns. In 2016, he sold the land he loved and moved to the Gold Rush town of Murphys, California.
Tom’s Lightning Ridge Ranch had been reduced to a charred wasteland, bringing back haunting memories of Vietnam.
Some memories never fade.
Voices of Wisdom