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Visitors go back to the future


Like something you'd see in an old-time photo, Jewell Wedegaertner sat silhouetted against a window, pumping her foot on the pedal, feeding a strand of wool through her spinning machine.

Wedegaertner, 78, said she's only been spinning since 1986, when she won her machine at the Stanislaus County Fair.

But spinning, she said, is part of our history.

"Spinning is a real old thing," the Dorrington resident said. "It used to be you had to spin thread to weave cloth and make clothes."

Wedegaertner was one of several craftsmen, musicians and museum officials at the Angels Camp Museum on Saturday for the town's ninth annual Living History Day.

It was a day to remember an older way of life and to re-educate people about the origins of foothills communities.

Museum Director Emily Stemler said she'd hoped for a bigger turnout, but said the weather probably turned people away.

"It was a really nice group that did come through," Stemler said. "We had a steady stream of people from 10 to 3 and had great music. The quilters, the needlers — I thought all of them were fabulous. The different things we had went off very, very well."

Stemler said that next year, Living History Day should be given more planning and a different date.

"We should start planning right after the fair," she said.

Admission was free for the museum. In the basement, the Independence Hall Quilters dressed in aprons and showed off their aged art.

In a barn below the museum — which is filled with old carriages and other antiques — people sat in folding chairs and listened to live bluegrass music. A baker sold pastries near the barn doors.

"This is a neat part of California history," said Calaveras County resident Chris Rogers after spending time inside the museum. "I think they have it pretty well set up."

Another attraction was the model of the once heavily used railroad between Angels Camp and Jamestown.

Elk Grove resident Scott Inman, from the Sacramento Model Railroad Historical Society, was on hand to discuss the history of the Sierra Railway Angels Branch.

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