December 14th, 2008

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Stepped out of a time machine

Thanks to Kitty Wilson, I took an excursion to Sutter Creek today for the monthly free concert held at the American Exchange Hotel there with Tom Brier (joined this month by Julia Riley on flute, Mark Meeker on tuba, and Kitty on washboard -- here they are playing Silver Bells today).

Before the concert, Kitty apparently bought some postcards featuring old photos of Sutter Creek. One of them was a photograph shot in 1892 of people with a horse and carriage in front of the American Exchange Hotel. That building and the surrounding buildings and everything look exactly the same today (even the sidewalks are still raised a foot or two from the street level, for stepping out of a horse-drawn carriage). So it was kind of freaky to look at this 116-year-old photograph and think, "Whoa, I was just standing there too!"

I mean, often you can see an old photo of a place where you've been, but it's only vaguely recognizable. This was spooky in its exacting similarity. But also extremely cool for the same reason.

Another postcard had a photo from 1901 of the inside of the building which is now the Sutter Creek Ice Cream Emporium. While some of it has changed, the soda fountain and the pillar and location of the cash register on the counter, and the wall where at that time there was a Wells Fargo outlet are all the same too, so that was a similar (but not as stark) reaction of recognition. "I was just in that room!"

Another photo showed that the building of the Emporium had a sunshade that pulled halfway down the awning. This photo was from 1901... but the Emporium has a shade exactly like that today!