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When Tulare had a lake.

when Tulare had a lake A century and more ago, a good bit of Tulare County lay beneath Tulare Lake, one of the largest bodies of water west of the Mississippi. Its reedy banks (the name Tulare comes from a Spanish word for reeds) were home to Yokuts Indians, its shallow waters home to oysters and terrapin harvested for restaurants in San Francisco. Then came the city of Tulare, founded by the Southern Pacific Railroad and so dependent on it that when the SP moved its offices, flocks of houses left too, rolled on logs to Visalia and Porterville.

Today the lake, drained for farmland, is a ghost that reappears only in the wettest years. The city no longer catches cold when the railroad sneezes, but is a major farm center. But at the new Tulare Historical Museum, the old days live on.

The museum stands in one of those pretty, tree-shaded neighborhoods that Central Valley cities keep hidden from casual drivers on Highway 99. Inside, you begin by watching a 7-minute slide show, then move on to the exhibits. Dioramas, baskets, and cradleboards tell the story of the Yokuts, a model switching yard and roundhouse the story of the Southern Pacific.

Homelife is represented by a turn-of-the-century bedroom (the Eastlake bed set you see was among the earliest mass-produced furniture), a parlor with Morris chair and fainting couch, and a labor-intensive kitchen. The working life is represented by a barbershop, pharmacy, and the millinery store of one Mrs. Lawler; one of the feathered constructions displayed supposedly decked the head of glided-age actress Lillian Russell. There's a sizable selection of historic agricultural implements: grape press, milk separator, milking stool you strapped to your behind as you moved from cow to cow.

You'll find the museum at 444 W. Tulare Avenue; it's open 10 to 4 thursdays through Saturdays, 12:30 to 4 Sundays. Admission is $1.50 adults, $1.50 adults, 50 cents for children under 12. From State 99, 45 miles southeast of Fresno, take Tulare Avenue (State 137) west 1-1/4 miles. For more details, call (209) 686-2074.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Tulare Historical Museum, Tulare, California
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1986
Words:350
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