Thanks to some history-minded locals, the Tuolumne County Museum has discovered the use for some weird-looking items found while doing an extensive inventory.
In the July 16 edition of The Union Democrat, there were photos of three unknown items found in the cache of thousands of artifacts in the museum's history center.
"All three were identified within hours. We were swamped with phone calls," said Billie Lyons, Tuolumne County Historical Society museum curator.
The first now-known item is a square of wood with spikes affixed to a chunk of tree bark, still attached.
Sonora resident Allan Bryant identified it as a Civil War-era telegraph insulator.
"Antique electrical and electronics has been what I've been doing for many years (as a hobby). I thought it looked like an insulator for a telegraph wire but I wasn't sure, so I went on the Internet and there it was," Bryant said.
The second item was a thick square of rubber with metal backing with two rectangular holes cut out in the middle. On the back is a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal, and on the front, metal brackets that appear to have connected at some point.
Columbia-resident Chuck Knowles identified it as a snowshoe for a horse.
Knowles moved to Sonora from Texas at age 10 in 1939, and his father had a saddle repair and shoe shop.
For the complete story, see the Aug. 12 edition of The Union Democrat.