History Buff’s Guide to Fresno County

By BARRY EITEL


From the early Native Americans to the 49ers searching for gold, Fresno County boasts a unique and vibrant history with endless sunshine in the heart of California. Fresno County makes a perfect vacation for anyone interested in the history and cultures of California, and the world.


Castle Air Museum


The Castle Air Museum is one of the largest aviation museums in the western Castle Air MuseumUnited States and boasts 32 acres of high-flying fun right next door to the Castle Airport. About 50 miles north of Fresno in Atwater, the museum showcases the history of aviation with a focus on military aircraft. A world-class collection of aircraft awaits visitors, including planes flown in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Roughly 70 aircraft sit on the museum’s meticulously manicured grounds and follow the history of aviation from the 1930s to today. It’s a great place for kids of any age who still look up at the sky with wonder.


Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad Steam Train Excursions


The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad offers a 19th century-style visit to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The company provides narrow-gauge steam train excursions through the pine-clad mountains and comes close to the southern gate to Yosemite National Park. Adventurers can take a ride straight through history, going along the same routes where powerful locomotives once hauled enormous log trains through the California wilderness. Even better for buffs, this excursion on occasion provides theatrical shows in period clothing and cookouts in the pine forests.


African-American Cultural and Historical Museum of the San Joaquin Valley


Fresno County has a large and thriving African-American community,African American Cultural and Historical Museum and the African-American Cultural and Historical Museum of the San Joaquin Valley hosts displays praising the community’s art, history and culture. A series of rotating and permanent displays focus on local African-American heroes, including Tony Award-winning singer Audra McDonald. This museum is great for kids and has a massive archive detailing the lives and culture of African-Americans throughout Fresno County’s history. It also occasionally features live theater and music performances, including a well-known Kwanzaa celebration.


California Memorial Museum


Dedicated to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, the California Memorial Museum in Clovis brings hundreds of artifacts from the attacks on the World Trade Center to the West Coast. Opened in 2002, gathering artifacts in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the esteemed collection includes cases upon cases of items donated by the New York City Fire Department, the New York Police Department and the Port Authority Police Department. Debris from the World Trade Center was carefully transported across the country to this museum, as was an American flag flown at Ground Zero. Other exhibits feature uniforms worn during rescue operations and hundreds of photos.


Clovis Big Dry Creek Historical Museum


Walk through the colorful history of Clovis at the Clovis Big Dry Creek Historical Museum. Clovis Big Dry Creek Museum This institution prides itself on the displays of artifacts from Clovis township history, including photographs of every graduating class of Clovis High School since 1903. The museum is located in the first bank built in Clovis, which was the scene of a harrowing Jazz Age heist in 1924 -- visitors can see vibrant exhibits dedicated to this historic crime. This history not only celebrates the immigrants to the area from the mid-1800s, but also the Native Americans who used the area for their livelihood and the veterans from Clovis who’ve fought in every war from World War I onward.


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