The Colfax Cobblestones newsletter is published quarterly, about 1½ weeks before each General Meeting and Program.

Current and Back Issues

All issues of the Colfax Cobblestones are available to download or view online as PDF files.



  • The Wright Brothers and How They Developed the Model B Aircraft, with some information about aviator Robert Fowler, whose Model B biplane was repaired in Colfax in 1911.
  • The Story of the Colfax Hotels
  • Recent Deaths of CAHS Members



  • Part 2 of John Rambottini’s walk around downtown Colfax, California in the early 1920s.
  • Roger Staab’s article about how we are organizing the Archives to make them easier for you to do research with the materials.


  • Dr. Robert Peers and the Colfax School for the Tuberculous
  • Dr. Chesley Bush’s Photo Album – the Rest of the Story


Note: Although we were still unable to hold quarterly public meetings with speakers and presentations because of COVID restrictions, we resumed publication of the quarterly newsletter with the September 2021 issue.

September 2021

  • The Museum has reopened. But because of COVID, but we are still not holding our quarterly public meetings with speakers and presentations.
  • Photos from the Bower-Keck collection: Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad; downtown Colfax, 1887-1940.
  • News and decisions from the August board meeting.

December 2021

  • Colfax, California in the 1920s.
  • Interview with John Rambottini.
  • Part 1 of John Rambottini’s walk around downtown Colfax, California in the early 1920s.
  • Information, photos, and drawings about the TB clinics in the area.


Note about why there is only one issue in 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic caused us to suspend CAHS activities beginning in March 2020. We did not hold the quarterly public meeting that was scheduled in March, continued to suspend public meetings throughout 2020 and in 2021, and did not publish the newsletter again until September 2021, because in the past publication was tied to upcoming public meetings.

March 2020

  • The volunteers working in the Archives.
  • Photo of the Colfax School, circa 1890, and other historical photos.
  • March is Museum Month.
  • The Colfax Passenger Depot: the Rest of the Story–the program for our quarterly meeting. Because of COVID, we had to cancel the meeting.


March 2019

  • Collecting and trading historical tokens from the Colfax area. This article introduced Rodger Hisken and the presentation he gave about local tokens a few weeks later in our quarterly meeting.
  • Some of the businesses in Colfax that used tokens.

May 2019

  • Railroad Scenes “Then and Now” Along the Donner Pass Route of the Transcontinental Railroad. This introduced the upcoming presentation by Roger Staab.
  • Mystery photo.
  • The Heritage Trail: the tour of museums in Placer County, 2019.

October 2019

  • Colfax’s Much-Traveled Freight Depot, by Roger Staab.
  • News about the upcoming program with Robert S. Wells, author of Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Chinese Emigrant Disaster.
  • The Iowa Hill Cemetery seeks a treasurer.


March 2018

  • The Colfax Women Who Rode to the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair by Motorcycle: Mary MacIntyre and Edith Wolfsen.
  • Pat Jones’ Histories of Local Towns, part 2 of 3: Damascus, Deadwood, Dutch Flat, Emigrant Gap, Foresthill, Gold Run, and Iowa Hill. There is a sidebar about Robin Yonash’s three books about the Iowa Hill Divide.
  • The March 10 program: two authors/speakers: Roger Staab (Railroads of Placer County) and Maria Brower (Ranches and Agriculture in Nevada County).

May 2018

  • Building the Railroad at Cape Horn, 1865-present. Later in May, Jack Duncan would speak at the quarterly meeting about the history of the building of the railroad at Cape Horn.
  • Pat Jones’ Histories of Local Towns, part 3 of 3: Lincoln, Loomis, Michigan Bluff, Newcastle, Penryn, Towle, Yankee Jims, and Virginiatown.
  • Photo of downtown Colfax, 1900.

September 2018

  • Correcting legends and folklore about how the railroad rounding Cape Horn was constructed and how Colfax got its name.
  • Chinese laborers did not use bosun’s chairs and wicker baskets at Cape Horn. CAHS position paper about Chinese laborers at Cape Horn.
  • Illinoistown’s residents did not rename their town as “Colfax.” CAHS position paper about the naming of the town of Colfax. Illinoistown continued to exist as a separate town for several years after Colfax was founded. Illinoistown was a couple of miles from the new town of Colfax.
  • Photo of a carte de visite, signed by Schuyler Colfax in California, in 1865.
  • Information about the September program with Alyssa Scott.
  • A photo of the entrance to the grounds of the Weimar Joint Sanatorium, date unknown.

December 2018

  • The 1966 White House’s Christmas Tree Was Shipped from Colfax. Includes photo of the tree on a railroad car in Colfax before leaving for Washington, D.C. Includes a reprint of the November 17, 1966, story about the Christmas tree that was published in The Colfax Record.
  • Restoration of the Bull and the Bear at the Colfax Passenger Depot. Includes photos of Ron Nelson and Swend Miller working on the bull and the bear and painting them.


March 2017

  • The Towle and Colfax grammar schools. Photos of the 1928 class at the Towle School, the Colfax Grammar School, and the remodeled Colfax school, which is now the Sierra Vista Community Center.
  • News about the cemeteries of the western Sierra Nevada, an upcoming presentation by Chris Ward.
  • A profile of Mel Couchman, editor of the Colfax Cobblestones newsletter, and his wife, Lynda.

May 2017

  • The Wells Fargo & Co. Express building, with a photo.
  • Storing supplies for the Central Pacific construction gangs in 1865. This includes a photo of the Central Union Railroad freight depot where supplies were stored for the construction gangs that worked on the railroad during the time when Colfax served as the rail head, or terminus, of the railway line.
  • Information about the upcoming presentation about the Folsom Powerhouse and the history of Folsom.
  • Chinese laborers working at the Secret Town Trestle, 1868, with a photo.
  • Long Ravine Bridge, near Cape Horn, California, 1875, with a photo.
  • Photo and details of the W. H. Russell Livery Stable on Main Street, Colfax, California. The photo is undated.

September 2017

  • This issue is a special issue about Gertrude Paul, a founder of the Colfax Area Historical Society and the Colfax History Museum. It includes photos of Gertrude, articles by her daughter, Carlotta Wixon-Welker, and excerpts from newspaper articles about her.
  • Information about the upcoming presentation, “Gold Rush Tales from Murderer’s Bar,” with Kathryn Miller Marshall.

November 2017

  • “Finding Baby Amelia,” an article about Amelia Jane Leonard, who died at the age of 2½ and was buried near her home in the former mining town of Bird’s Flat (across Indian Creek from Iowa Hill).
  • Pat Jones’ histories of local towns, part 1 of 3: Alta, Applegate, Bath, Blue Canyon, Camp Far West, Cisco, Clipper Gap, and Colfax. It includes historical photos of Colfax.
  • Information about the upcoming presentation by Roger Staab: Railroad-related changes in Colfax over the years.


March 2016

  • The 100,000th visitor to the Colfax Heritage Museum.
  • An excerpt from and information about the book Schools of the Iowa Hill Divide: The Iowa Hill Divide, Volume 1, by Robin Yonash. Includes a photo of the third Iowa Hill Schoolhouse, built in 1922.
  • Article about Schuyler Colfax (1823–1885), the namesake of Colfax, California.
  • The history of the Colfax Area Historical Society.
  • Information about the upcoming presentation on Gold Country medical history, with Dr. Rod Moser, director of the Gold Country Medical History Museum in Auburn, California.

May 2016

  • Gold Country medical stories and artifacts, an article about Dr. Rod Moser’s presentation at the previous quarterly public meeting.
  • Information about the upcoming presentation on local house histories and how to research the history of your house, with Helen Wayland and Nancy Hagman.
  • Towns and People of the Iowa Hill Divide: The Iowa Hill Divide, Volume 2.
  • Mystery tool photo.
  • Museum visited by a team researching the history of Chinese railroad workers.

September 2016

  • Strolling through history in the Colfax Heritage Museum.
  • Upcoming meeting and program with Ralph Gibson, museum administrator for Placer County Museums.
  • Mystery tool from previous newsletter identified as a track chisel.
  • Colfax’s Shadow Art Tour: a guide to the shadow art painted on walls of buildings and retaining walls around downtown Colfax. These murals were created by Jim Bowers and Foxey McCleary.
  • Presidents of the CAHS, 1985-2016.
  • The CAHS scrapbook, crated by Gertrude Paul and Myrtle Findley.
  • The CAHS Archives are open by appointment.
  • Caps and other items from the Knights of Pythias are an exhibit in the museum.

November 2016

  • Cash & Ballinger’s service station. The photo includes Charles W. Ramsey, Jr,, in front of the station.
  • The Tee Pee Diner in historic Illinoistown. The photo is of an undated postcard.
  • Ralph Gibson’s presentation in September about the history of the people and buildings that are the focus of the new DeWitt History Museum in Auburn.
  • Robin Yonash will speak at the next quarterly public meeting. She has now published Gold and Fire–A History of the Iowa Hill Divide: The Iowa Hill Divide, Volume 3.
  • CAHS president’s message, by Jay MacIntyre.
  • Historical photos from the collection of Michael J. Semas. Two photos by George Besaw are reproduced here: a steam shovel at the Southern Pacific Cutoff in Colfax and downtown Colfax 1910, 1911.


No issues were published in 2015.


February 2014

  • Presidential dolls.
  • Well-known Colfax Theater owner, longtime filmmaker Gary Tomsic dies.
  • The President’s corner: updates about the Archives and the Museum.
  • Recipe from the past: Irish stew with dumplings.
  • Mel Henderson remembered.
  • February program with Phil Sexton, Interpretive Specialist for the Capital District of the California State Parks in Sacramento.
  • Gertrude Paul celebrates her 95th birthday.
  • History of the past CAHS presidents.
  • The Bull and the Bear are given new protective coatings.

May 2014

  • Springtime in Colfax.
  • Homer R. Eldridge: the early years.
  • Recipe from the past: Eel soup.
  • Pvt. James Harvey Wilcox, a veteran of the Mexican War.
  • Former mayor Warren Wallace, 1928–2014.
  • The Oak Street gang of Colfax, circa 1932.

July 2014 

  • Homer R. Eldridge: the Navy years–WWI.
  • The President’s corner: updates about the Bull and the Bear, the Archives, and visitors to the museum.
  • Recipe from the past: Holiday cake.
  • Richard Phillip Wixon, 1938–2014.
  • Spring and summer meetings.

October 2014

  • Photo of William Kilgo’s blacksmith shop, circa 1890. An article about William Kilgo is inside this issue.
  • CAHS member finds family and history in Dahlonega, Georgia.
  • The President’s corner: Helen Wayland’s work at the museum and the Archives, the processing of the Grace Hubley glass negatives, and community support.
  • Recipe from the past: Dried pea soup.
  • Helen Wayland retires as Museum Director. She continues as director of the Archives.
  • The history of hydraulic mining.
  • Addie Dougherty, 1924–2014.
  • Fall program about Ford’s original tractor, the Fordson Tractor, with George Beckham.


January 2013

  • Winter photo gallery.
  • Winter program with Jan Westmore, author of Images of America: Colfax.
  • Colfax’s namesake: Schuyler Colfax, by Jan Westmore.
  • The President’s corner: the winter meeting and dinner, preparing to build a gazebo over the Bull and the Bear, and Jan Westmore’s upcoming program with us.
  • Recipe from the past: Mom’s Congo Squares.
  • Recording the Weimar Cemetery, by Robin Yonash, chair, The Weimar Project.
  • The train wreck in Colfax, Sunday, January 20, 2013.
  • Union Pacific designates Colfax as “Train Town USA.”

April 2013

  • Spring photo gallery.
  • Civil War artifacts on display in the museum.
  • The President’s corner: The Placer County Heritage Trail Tour, and expanding our Archives at the Sierra Vista Community Center.
  • Recipe from the past: Strawberry Mousse.
  • Sixth Annual Heritage Trail Tour.
  • Pearl Glass, “Mumzie the Clown,” donated a large-scale model circus train to the museum.
  • Spring program: Ken Yeo from the Nevada County Narrow Gauge (NCNG) Railroad Museum.
  • Early tourist guides that were written during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.
  • Grace Hubley Collection of photographs.
  • Tom Mason moves to Florida.

July 2013

  • Summer photo gallery: The Lincoln Highway Association Centennial Tour.
  • George Yonehiro, military hero and judge, honored.
  • The President’s corner: Increased foot traffic from tourists and Amtrak passengers, expanding the Archives facility, and the possibility of installing a canopy or cover over the Bull and the Bear.
  • Recipe from the past: Hygienic food values, onions.
  • Wayne “Robby” Robinson, 1930–2013.
  • Roger Norman Lewis, 1934–2013.
  • Summer meeting and ice cream social
  • The heavy railroad traffic on local railroad tracks during WW II, 1942-1945.

October 2013

  • Fall photo gallery.
  • Bill James, Iowa Hill’s pitching sensation.
  • The President’s corner: Fall meeting and ice cream social, processing the Grace Hubley glass negatives in the Archives, expanding the Archives space, and the Bull has a new set of horns.
  • Recipe from the past: Miss Leslie’s Pumpkin Pudding.
  • Dr. Theodore Bacharach, 1923–2013.
  • Ruth Odetta Parks Gray, 1924–2013.
  • Mel Henderson, 1922–2013.
  • Fall meeting and ice cream social.
  • Railroad Days 2013.


February 2012

  • Winter photo gallery.
  • Recipe from the past: Corned beef and cabbage chowder.
  • Cisco Grove.
  • Reports from our past, readings from the CAHS Historical Scrapbook.

May 2012

  • Spring photo gallery.
  • Summer program: Brendan Compton will show his film about the snow fighting equipment used at Donner Summit during the record-setting snow season of 2010–11.
  • Recipe from the past: Picnic potato salad.
  • Report on April’s program with George Lay about the Esoteric Fraternity of Applegate.
  • Colfax Caboose update.
  • The Golden Arrow Ranch.


February 2011

  • Winter photo gallery.
  • February program: April Moore, a member of the Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe of the Colfax Rancheria, will be the guest speaker.
  • Recipe from the past: Kisses (mid 1800s).
  • Request for information about the McFadyen family.
  • The Colfax Caboose restoration.

May 2011

  • Spring photo gallery.
  • Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day.
  • Request for information about the Maginn family.
  • A letter seeing California writers from the Commissioning Editor of The History Press.
  • The Colfax Caboose restoration.

July 2011

  • Summer photo gallery.
  • July program: ice cream social.
  • August’s Heritage Trail Tour.
  • Recipe from the past: Fresh peach pie (late 1800s).
  • Looking back at the founding of CAHS. Reprinted from 1985.
  • The Colfax Caboose restoration.

October 2011

  • Fall photo gallery.
  • Annual CAHS dinner.
  • Recipe from the past: Real Parisian chocolate drink (late 1800s).
  • Railroad Days 2011.
  • Colfax memories by Jeanette Johnson: photos of the grocery story and bakery.
  • The Colfax Caboose restoration.


January 2010

  • Winter photo gallery.
  • February program: JFK and PT 109, with guest speaker Theodore Robinson, who served with JFK.
  • Recipe from the past: Baked Indian pudding (mid 1800s).
  • Tales from the past, as told by E. L. Wall, who was one of the high school students hired to do track work during WW II. Women were also hired for this work during the war. Wall earned $0.62/hour.
  • Shotgun houses, by Nilda Z. Duffek.
  • Colfax memories by Bill Lidster: “Getting to know me” and “Learning about mountains and small towns.”

April 2010

  • Spring photo gallery.
  • April program: California history as told by dead people. Jody and Ric Hornor of Pilot Hill will share stories from their series of history books on Northern California history.
  • Recipe from the past: Candied spring carrots (late-1800s).
  • Tales from the past, as told by E. L. Wall. After doing track work for the railroad as a teenager, he became a Signal Engineer UPRR. This story is about his work in Cisco, California.
  • The homes that the Sears company sold, by Nilda Z. Duffek.
  • Colfax memories by Bill Lidster: “My first summer in Colfax” and “Learning to swim in Colfax.”

July 2010

  • Summer photo gallery.
  • July program: CAHS celebrates 25 years.
  • Recipe from the past: Philadelphia ice cream (late 1800s).
  • Tales from the past, as told by E. L. Wall. Growing up in Colfax. Learning how to get on and off a moving freight train, which came in handy when he missed the school bus in Auburn and didn’t want to walk 18 miles home.
  • In search of old military graves in Colfax.
  • CAHS’s 25th anniversary dinner.
  • Colfax memories by Bill Lidster: “My fifth grade in school.”

September 2010

  • Fall photo gallery.
  • Colfax’s centennial.
  • CAHS’s 25th anniversary dinner.
  • Recipe from the past: Turkey croquettes (late 1800s).


February 2009

  • Updated design for the Colfax Cobblestones.
  • Message from the new CAHS president, George Lay.
  • “A rendezvous with James Clyman,” a presentation that will be given by Tom Mason on February 19. Clyman was a surveyor, land speculator, mountain man/fur trapper, explorer, Indian fighter, militia man, and poet. This presentation is based on the diary he kept from 1820 to 1850. Clyman was born in Virginia in 1792 and died in Napa, California, in 1881.
  • Recipe from the past: Sweet buns.
  • The museum is open 7 days a week, from 10 am–3 pm.
  • Report of a visit to a meeting of the Humboldt County Historical Society.
  • A suggestion to photograph the porches in Colfax and do a program about their variety.

April 2009

  • Colfax spring memories.
  • From Colfax with love: upcoming meeting about “Operation Mom,” a service group that provides service personnel with health and welfare items.
  • Recipe from the past: Old-fashioned strawberry shortcake.
  • A new display in the museum honors Grace Hubley, photographer, graduate of Colfax Elementary School, charter member of the Colfax Garden Club, and survivor of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.
  • The Bull and the Bear come home from Grass Valley after being restored by Mel Henderson and company.
  • Requests for Irish immigrant letters, information about Alexander McLennan, and information about the Knudsen family from Denmark.
  • 2009 Grace Hubley award given to Steve Coverston.
  • Myrtle Findley writes about finding a booklet about Clara Barton at a rummage sale, and she writes about Barton’s visit to her grandparents in California and her rocking her 8 or 9 month old father.

July 2009

  • Summer photo gallery.
  • A fond farewell to Mary MacIntyre Ladd, 1913-2005.
  • Information about the upcoming program on the Roseville rail yard explosions in 1973: four days of artillery shells exploding in the rail yard, windows shattered as far away as Auburn and Sacramento, the town of Antelope was destroyed but no one there was killed.
  • Recipe from the past: Lemonade (mid-1800s).
  • Upcoming Colfax City Centennial.
  • Colfax High School celebrates 50 years of educating area youth.
  • Follow-up information about previous requests for information about Alexander McLennan and the Knudsen family.
  • Gunnar Henrioulle’s suggestions for snapping Colfax out of its ghost town status and making it a travelers’ oasis for people driving to Lake Tahoe and Reno, similar to the role The Nut Tree in Vacaville fills for travelers to the Bay Area.

October 2009

  • Fall photo gallery.
  • Museum exhibits update.
  • Special field trip/program in October to visit Mike Nevius’ collection of restored mining equipment from local mines and mining camps.
  • Recipe from the past: Potato soup (mid-1800s).
  • Two short tales by Marilyn Taylor about her father’s experiences working for the railroad.
  • Memories of the Colfax Hotel. Reprinted from 1986.
  • Jean Regina Paoli’s story about her family’s history in the area. Reprinted from 1986.


June 2008

  • Upcoming meeting and ice cream social.
  • Message from outgoing president, Myrtle Findley.
  • Information about updating the website.
  • Memories of Grace Hubley Jones, by her niece Hazel Anne Rosell Smith.
  • A list of how many people visited the museum each day in May 2008. There were 728 visitors in May.
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