Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Historic McGlashan site up for grabs

In 1893, newspaper editor, lawyer, and Donner Party historian C. F. McGlashan completed a remarkable building on a hillside in Truckee, California. White, with numerous tall windows and columns all around, the Rocking Stone Tower overlooked the town.

The tower was built was a 30-foot-high boulder with a flat top, at whose center perched a smaller rock (only 16 tons) so perfectly balanced on edge that a slight push would make it move gently, then rock back into place. Worried that the locals who scaled the base and larked about with the rocking stone might unseat it, McGlashan bought the property and built the circular tower, which housed his "museum" -- Donner Party relics, his butterfly collection, Washoe artifacts, and various other curiosities, including the rocking stone itself. 

Several years later, he completed a house close to the boulder and attached to the tower by a bridge. The house and tower became a landmark, even appearing in postcards, such as the one the image above is taken from. Until his death in 1931, McGlashan made his home in the "castle" on the hillside. Nearly four years after his passing, however, the house met its own fate. At 3:15 A.M. on October 18, 1934, a watchman discovered the blaze in the kitchen and was seriously burned attempting to douse it. The house burned to the ground, but the tower and its contents emerged unscathed. In 1939, the tower became Truckee's Veterans Hall Memorial Building.

Now the local Powers That Be have determined that the site is "surplus property" and have put it on the chopping block, with no publicity or input from residents. See the Sierra Sun article "Our Turn: Truckee history for sale" for more details about this latest development. For more about McGlashan's home and tower, see Give Me a Mountain Meadow, by M. Nona McGlashan.


Tracy Morgan said...

Just wanted to say thank you for your dedication to this site. I homeschool my children and we made great use of your site before visiting Donner State Park last week. I have always had an interest in the Donner Party and am so pleased that my son, Dylan now shares my passion. Thanks again!

Kristin Johnson said...

Thank you, Tracy! Glad you find it helpful.

Irene Hinkle said...

What is the outcome of this post? I am a descendant of C.F. McGlashan and this is alarming news!