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Tournament of Roses parade was started in Pasadena

In 1890 the citizens of Pasadena held the first Tournament of Roses parade, starting a tradition that has continued to this day. They wanted to celebrate the good climate and outstanding agriculture of Southern California, especially during the winter. They decided to hold a parade with decorated floral floats in the middle of the winter, marking the start of the new year. Hence, on New Year’s Day in 1890, the citizens of Pasadena gathered with fresh flowers and paraded through the streets.

In 1902, the parade was followed for the first time by a football game. Other sports accompanied the parade for a few years, but in 1916 a football postseason championship game became the standard post-parade event. The Rose Bowl stadium was opened in 1923 and the game became the Rose Bowl game. The 1946 game matched the best team from what became the Pacific Ten Conference with the best team in the Big Ten Conference, a practice that has continued for over 50 years, until 1999. The Tournament of Roses parade still captures national attention each New Year’s Day.

Stanford University was founded by Leland Stanford

In the fall of 1891, the first class of students enrolled at the newly-opened Stanford University. Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland Stanford and his wife Jane as a memorial to their son, who had died the year before at the age of fifteen. The Stanfords funded it entirely, building on two ranches in Palo Alto. Leland Stanford had made his fortune as president of the Central Pacific Railroad. He served as a U.S. Senator from 1885 until 1893, and was a leading citizen in California.

Among the first class of 559 students at Stanford was future president Herbert Hoover. The student body was coeducational from the start, although for more than fifty years the number of female students was limited to 500. In 1908 Stanford University absorbed neighboring Cooper Medical College, and added students, departments, and graduate fields in succeeding years. In 1967 it became one of the first universities in the country to have a particle accelerator (an advanced physics facility). Alumni Herbert Hoover dedicated a great library on war, peace, and revolution known as the Hoover Institution.

By the 1980s the university had seven schools including law, medicine, and business, and over 70 academic departments. It now enrolls over 13,000 students, nearly half of them graduate students, and is generally considered to be one of the finest universities in the country.

Sierra Club was founded by John Muir

In 1892, naturalist John Muir founded the Sierra Club to protect the wilderness of the Sierra Mountains and Yosemite Canyon. Muir was a native of Scotland who grew up in Wisconsin but came to San Francisco in 1868. Soon after he arrived, he walked some 60 miles from Oakland to the Pacheco Pass, beheld the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and walked across the San Joaquin Valley to the Yosemite Valley. He spent much of his time in the wilderness for the next ten years, and eventually became an advisor to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft as they founded National Parks in the area. He was the first person to recognize that the Yosemite Valley was formed by glaciation and not by earthquakes. He published The Mountains of California in 1894 and Our National Parks in 1901.

Muir was disturbed by the various building projects such as dams, which were interrupting the course of nature in California. The Sierra Club fought to preserve the natural state of Yosemite National Park, and supported the National Park Act enacted by Congress in 1916 to prevent further building on Park lands. Muir died in 1914, but the Sierra Club is still one of the foremost nature societies in the world today, supporting preservation projects worldwide. A National Monument near Mount Tamalpais is named Muir Woods in his honor, as are many of the Sierra trails and passes; more sites in California bear his name than any other.

Hydroelectric power was transmitted from Folsom to Sacramento

On July 13, 1895, electricity was transmitted over uninsulated copper wires from the Folsom Powerhouse to Sacramento, a distance of 22 miles. The source of the power was water from the American River. Two brothers, Horatio P. and Charles E. Livermore, had constructed a stone dam across the river and were producing hydroelectric power from electrical generators run by water turbines. This was a new technology, tried previously only a few places in the world. The Powerhouse had four 750-kilowatt electrical generators, or dynamos, weighing a total of over 228,000 pounds -- the largest generators yet constructed.

Sacramento celebrated its new source of electricity on September 9, 1895, with a Grand Electric Carnival. A parade of floats, pulled by electric railway cars and decorated with electric lights, was viewed by 30,000 people. The Capitol building was ablaze with electric lights. It is said that the lighted dome could be seen for 50 miles.


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