Feature Article

Modern-day 49ers
Book offers unique look at Mother Lode Highway

A new book explains the history of areas along Highway 49 in first-person accounts from journals, diaries and letters home.

"The Golden Highway, Volume I, 19th Century History Along Highway 49, El Dorado, Placer, Nevada & Sierra Counties" is a 264-page work from Pilot Hill residents Ric and Jody Hornor.

The couple, doing business as Electric Canvas Publishing, said they wanted Mark Twain and other early adventurers to tell the stories instead having their work read like a history textbook.

"Most people don't care for history that's been rehashed, but if you read it in first person it's pretty fascinating," Ric Hornor said. "We're not really authors, we're putting together other people's writing."

Ric Hornor is a photographer and enhanced most of the 239 19th century photographs, bringing many back to life. They were collected from the Library of Congress, historical societies up and down gold country and even nearby residents who said, "Hey, my grandpa died and there's a box in the attic," the couple said.

This is the couple's third book. "Volume I" tells the history of the northern strip of Highway 49. The second volume will cover the southern half, which extends from Coloma to Oakhurst. The Hornors have been researching the entire series for 2 years. They have six books planned, with future projects featuring Sacramento and San Francisco.

"We're seeing a lot of development go on and most folks coming in are coming from the city and they don't know much about the area," Ric Hornor said. "The hope is that the folks moving out into the hills and into the country can appreciate it better if they know more about it.

"If somebody wanted to know something about their specific area, they'd have to go through an awful lot of material to find it," he added.

The 264-page book is available at Raley's, Borders online, independent bookstores, gift shops and museums, online at Amazon.com or by calling (800) 989-8112.