Museum hosting new exhibit in April

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Living carefree in Berryessa Valley: these youngsters wheel through the streets of Monticello, and not comprehending that their world is about to be upended. Only a few years later, this valley would be 125 feet below the Lake Berryessa waterline. (Courtesy photo)

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“Remembering Monticello” shares memories and history

By Woody Fridae
Special to the Express

There was a thriving agricultural town on the western side of the Sacramento Valley — that is until 1957.

In the Berryessa Valley, snuggled into Sacramento Valley’s western foothills, once existed the town of Monticello. This town was vibrant with life. Farmers cultivated fields, men rode horses in an annual rodeo, youngsters rode bikes throughout town, locals played music at the local tavern, children went to school, families met at the local restaurants and everyone swam in the Putah Creek swimming hole.

It was razed and burned by the Bureau of Reclamation to flood the valley and build Lake Berryessa. While there are few folks still alive who remember those times, they are still grieving their lost Valhalla. Their memories of a town, now 75 years old, are still very much alive.

Next month, their sister city of Winters is resurrecting those memories. The Historical Society of Winters has chosen to gather photos, artifacts, and speakers to commemorate the lost town of Monticello because they share common history.

Next month, their sister city of Winters is resurrecting those memories. The Historical Society of Winters has chosen to gather photos, artifacts, and speakers to commemorate the lost town of Monticello because they share common history. The high school students from Monticello attended Winters High School. Many of the Winters Youth Day Sweethearts were from Monticello. Locals remember going up to the famous Monticello Rodeo the first Sunday every May. And, a Life Magazine article that never ran about the destruction of the little town, photographed by Dorothea Lang and Pirkle Jones, will finally see the light of day on the museum walls of 13 Russell St.

The town lives on in the memories of the diaspora who scattered and resettled in Winters and other Yolo, Napa, and Solano County towns. That memory will be celebrated in the exhibit “Remembering Monticello” beginning Friday, April 7 at the Winters Museum.

There will be a Grand Opening of this exhibit on April 7 at 7 p.m. at the museum (13 Russell St.) in Winters. Community members are invited to come see this exhibit any Thursday through Sunday from 1–5 p.m. after the opening.

Outgoing exhibit
The “The Lost Japanese Community of Winters” exhibit, which has received accolades from locals and visitors alike, is still available for one more week. That exhibit will close on Sunday, March 20. Come enjoy the current exhibit while you can, and plan to visit “Remembering Monticello” beginning April 7.

Museum information
The Winters Museum is regularly open to the public weekly from 1–5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Admission is free. 

For regular updates, visit the Winters Museum website at www.wintersmuseum.org/home.

Community members can also follow the museum on its social media accounts on both Facebook and Twitter.

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