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PAST COMES ALIVE AT SIMI MUSEUM.

Byline: Amy Raisin Staff Writer

SIMI VALLEY - Three periods of the city's history - Chumash Indian, Spanish Rancho and American settlers - were resuscitated Sunday alongside the state's sesquicentennial quilt, celebrating 150 years of statehood.

History Days 2000 at the Strathearn Historical Park and Museum welcomed hundreds of guests over the weekend, featuring women in pioneer-style clothing and the same now-rusted agricultural implements used to settle the land.

``There's a tremendous amount of information on this quilt,'' said Zena Thorpe, co-designer of the detailed blanket that will soon be housed in a Sacramento museum.

The quilt complemented the historical periods on display, as it revealed everything from the covered wagons traveling to California, to Spanish missions and a rendering of Chumash Indians.

``People have to feel the history. When you just read it, it's not the same as actually seeing the wood-burning stove,'' said Susanne Clion, a museum docent from Simi Valley.

Clion, dressed in period skirts and a bonnet, answered questions inside the 1888 Colony House, one of only two remaining prefab houses of the 12 sent to Simi Valley from Chicago in the late 1880s.

``This wood-burning stove was brought over with the covered wagons by a Simi Valley family,'' she said. ``And this iron, it's hard to imagine that an iron had to be heated on the stove to work.''

Across the way from the Colony House stands an original Chumash adobe, since added onto with Victorian-style rooms.

The original walls of the two-room adobe were still standing after a fire nearly 200 years ago, according to a docent. It was then built up by the Strathearn family and inhabited by two daughters until about the 1960s.

Moorpark residents Gary and Grace Brown said they never knew that the museum and grounds existed, but after their visit Sunday said the preservation of such a site is essential.

``It's extremely important to preserve this,'' Gary said. ``It's the only way we're going to maintain our history. People see something like this, and they feel they have something to remember.''

Horses were not the only means of transportation remembered at the event. About eight tractors rested beside the aging, rusted farming equipment of the pioneer days, some of the bright red machines still popping and cracking as if they were brand new.

John Deere and McCormick tractors from the 1930s through the 1950s were on display as a tribute to the history of the valley and the people who farmed it.

LeRoy Miller, owner and restorer of some of the more modern tractors, said his job is important to history.

``We rebuild, operate and maintain this farm equipment so future generations will know what it is.''

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) The state's sesquicentennial quilt, celebrating 150 years of statehood, is on display during History Days 2000 in Simi Valley.

(2 -- color) Joshua Ponce, 2 1/2, tries his hand at rock art Sunday during History Days 2000 at the Strathearn Historical Park and Museum. The celebration welcomed hundreds of guests over the weekend, marking three periods in the city's history - Chumash Indian, Spanish Rancho and American settlers.

(3 -- color) Gilbert Unzueta, a Chumash Indian, demonstrates techniques used in weaving a traditional Chumash basket Sunday at the Strathearn Historical Park and Museum in Simi Valley. ``People have to feel the history. When you just read it, it's not the same as actually seeing the wood-burning stove,'' said Susanne Clion, a museum docent from Simi.

Lilly Barrett/Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 28, 2000
Words:582
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