Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Helen Hunt Jackson and how she caused the first tourism boom to California

Helen Hunt Jackson and how she caused the first tourism boom to California.

The television program Great American Railroad Journeys, in the Monterey to Los Angeles episode, explains who travel writer, Helen Hunt Jackson was and how she caused the first tourism boom to California.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

M [Michael Portillo]: Today Santa Barbara is an affluent beach community. But its hilltop mission is still run by Franciscan friars. East of here lies another monument to the [California] state's colonial past. This beautifully preserved cattle ranch, Rancho Camulos, was established in 1835 by a prominent hispanic family, the Del Vallos. The rancho sits in magnificent landscape. The buildings have verandas where you can enjoy the shade in the evenings. There are tall trees and flowers. It's really delightful. It was built on the site of a former Native American village whose local population came to work for the Mexican owners. Now a National Historic Monument, it became part of literary folk law. Museum guide Maria Christopher plays the part of the novelist who made it famous.
H [Maria Christopher playing Helen Hunt Jackson]: Hello, Good afternoon sir.
M: May I introduce myself, I'm called Michael [Portillo].
H: Hello Michael, I'm Helen Hunt Jackson.
M: A great pleasure to greet you indeed. What was it made you want to come to this part of California?
H: Well, I was working as a travel writer and so I wanted to come and see one of the beautiful old Ranchos, but also I became enamored with the Native American cause.
M: Why so, why were you interested in them.
H: Well, I had become concerned about the government's mistreatment of Native Americans. I wrote a book called A Century of Dishonor. It detailed every atrocity that I could uncover. I even sent a copy to each member of Congress. Nobody paid attention. I came here and I spoke with the people and I learned their stories and I learned their history. And so I decided I was going to write a romantic novel. I called it Ramona and it's like Romeo and Julliet if they lived in Southern California in the 1860's.
M: What was it that divided these two star crossed lovers?
H: Ramona is this beautiful young lady. She's being raised as a seniorita in the Hispanic culture in a very wealthy rancho and she had everything, and Alexandro was an Indian, a Native American, and he had come to work on the rancho. They run off and get married. These are people from two cultures, two economic classes. The Native Americans, the Indians, were living in poor housing. Healthcare was not being provided. There were doctors, but they were in the cities, not in the villages, not the one where the Indians lived.
M: Published in 1884, Helen Hunt Jackson's tale of romance and injustice was a best seller, and readers were fascinated to learn about the old rancho way of life.
H: The popularity of Alexandro and Ramona caused the first tourism boom to California. It coincided with the arrival of the trains and so in Chicago the posters went up, "come see the home of Ramona." And so they came by train cross country even, though Ramona was a fictitious character.
M: How would you sum up Helen Hunt Jackson's achievement?
H: She is still in print today. Four movies were done of the story. She captured old California but she also opened up to people's minds the horrors and an inequalities.
M: Every year since 1923, a pageant has been held telling the story of Ramona, and featuring popular dances from the period. ...


2/05/2020 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also see, Jackson, Helen Hunt. Bits of Travel at Home. Roberts Brothers, Boston, Mass., 1878.

2/05/2020 2:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Recent Messages