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Editorial Review

Pilot Hill couple puts out 3rd Gold Country history book

Georgetown Gazette, November 23, 2006 by Rebecca Murphy

Now three books in a potential series of six are available, just in time for the holidays, from the award-winning publisher, Electric Canvas, created by Ric and Jody Hornor of Pilot Hill. Last year they released The Golden Corridor, a historical compilation of notes, letters and journals of those who lived during the Gold Rush Era and traipsed along the routes of what are now Interstates 50 and 80. In Aprils, 2006, they added their second book to the series, The Golden Quest and Nevada’s Silver Heritage, silver and gold in one.

The second book from the Hornors’ imprint publishing company, 19th Century Books, is a similarly formatted look at the Lake Tahoe region and Western Nevada Mining Districts. 

“This one (The Golden Quest) seems a little like our orphan,” said Jody Hornor, producer of the books along with her husband, Ric. “It’s smaller and hasn’t received as much play in Nevada as the others have in California.”

Smaller, yes, but while The Golden Corridor and the newest in the series, released Oct. 15, The Golden Highway, Highway 49 Volume I: El Dorado, Placer, Nevada and Sierra Counties, both have more than 200 photographs and from 50-100 more pages than The Golden Quest, all of the books portray the frontier of the west through the eyes of the people who then lived.

Included in The Golden Quest is a chapter on the Nevada Indian Wars, a fact of history about which Jody said she had heard little to nothing. Another part of the book to which Jody referred was about a woman, Caroline M. Nichols Churchill, who is quoted as suggesting “…to create a current which shall knock the earth off its orbit, cause it to turn a summersault and reverse the poles, and trust to a kind of providence to restore order and the desired equality of climate… This advice I give … partly from the fact that I, as an individual, would like to establish a reputation for being a philosopher as well as a political economist.” (p. 75, The Golden Quest)

The Golden Quest includes California and Nevada communities within approximately 30 miles of Lake Tahoe, like Truckee, Tahoe City, Reno, Carson City, Virginia City, Genoa, Glenbrook and smaller communities.

Like the other two, the third in their series of six books, planned for completion in the winter of 2008, The Golden Highway Volume I (along with all of the “Golden” books) is more than just a rehash of history, and they are all written in the same format.

“This is history in the actual words of those who made it,” said Jody Hornor. Written from a variety of primary source documents such as letters, journals, and notes produced by people like Mark Twain, Sir Henry Vere Huntley, Peter Burnett and many other early pioneers, the most recent tome conveys the colorful language of the time from the Gold Rush to the early 1900s. “You feel like they’re actually talking to you.”

A study of 19th century history from the perspective of those who lived it, the books provide a visual as well as verbal commentary through the use of hundreds of restored photographs. “The photo restoration is vital to the continued documentation of our history,” said Ric Hornor. “We’ve brought some images back to life when you could barely detect what you were looking at in the faded originals.”

Accessing photographs and historical documents from small museums and archives, the Hornors, who do not refer to themselves as authors but rather research compilers and editors, provide a comprehensive bibliography and index at the end of their books. While all of their books are created in the same format and style with fascinating sidebars and legends illustrated by different icons, “less than 5 percent redundancy” occurs in their photographs and information occurring the trail to the Mother Lode region of the Golden State.

“We’re doing the books geographically,” said Hornor. Acknowledging that the books follow a particular route from San Francisco to the Sierra Foothills in The Golden Corridor and Highway 49 in the Golden Highway, Hornor said. “The people didn’t just stay on those travel routes. We cover about 30 miles in either direction.” She added that their publishing name, Electric Canvas, was submitted to the Sacramento County Historical Society by the Folsom Historical Society and honored with an Award of Excellence by the former. Additionally, The Golden Corridor competed against 145 books published in 2005 to be one of four books that won a western-region Independent Publisher’s Award for excellence.

The remainder of the “Golden” series will include The Golden Highway (40): Volume II (Amador County and south), The Golden Hub (Sacramento), and The Golden Gate (San Francisco) and are expected to be published between Spring 2007 and Winter 2008. The current works are available at the Pilot Hill Market, Mar-Val Food Stores and The Dusty Dogwood in Georgetown, Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, other major and independent book stores and gift shops, as well as online at or by calling (800) 989-8112. 

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