Have you ever placed a Ghirardelli chocolate in one of your stamping creations?
Do you have any idea where these wonderful chocolates were perfected? Well, read on my friends…..
In March we had house guests from Paris, France. They made their plans to visit in December. After five years of drought, Northern California finally had an unusually wet winter, first with snow and then with several weeks of heavy continuous rain. That rain caused long dry springs to revitalize and start to flow. One particular spring, along the 2-lane road (Hwy 120) to Yosemite National Park from the north, caused the earth under the roadway to just slide away. 65 feet deep of sliding away. This was in February and the road was closed. (It’ll be re-opening Monday, May 1st.)
Now our home is 39 ‘crow miles’ from Yosemite and usually a little over two hours away by car. The damage done by the spring caused the route most convenient from our area to Yosemite to be closed for an undetermined length of time. And that left the route getting there to be at least a 3-1/2 hour drive. I asked around, found a PG&E (gas/electric company) official and asked him what the most efficient route would be to get to Yosemite now that (highway) 120 was closed.
The answer: via Hornitos. I had never even heard of Hornitos but I was familiar with a few of the other little towns he mentioned so through Hornitos became our chosen 3-1/2 hour route. Hornitos makes my little tiny town of Mi Wuk Village look like a metropolis! Population of Hornitos: 73. I decided today to check out any information about the are because only a few have ever heard of it.
The Hornitas post office opened in 1856, and changed its name to Hornitos in 1877. The name, meaning “little ovens” in Spanish, was derived from the community’s old Mexican tombstones that were built in the shape of little square bake ovens. It was was founded by Mexicans who were run out of neighboring town of Quartzburg for the “crime” of being Mexicans. (Hmm….sad that this sort of thing is still going on.) In its heyday Hornitos was a wide-open camp whose streets were lined with fandango halls, bars, and gambling dens. Today Hornitos lives on as one of the best preserved ghost towns in the Mother Lode with the ruins of the old Wells Fargo office, the stone Masonic Hall, the jailhouse and the store where the firm of D. Ghirardelli got its start in the 1850s. Hornitos is registered as California Historical Landmark #333
Below is the interesting fact you’ve been waiting for:
Domingo Ghirardelli’s general store, between 1856 and 1859 is where he perfected his chocolate recipes. The remains of the store can still be seen in the town.
Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli, Sr. (February 21, 1817 – January 17, 1894) was the founder of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in San Francisco, California. He was born in Rapallo, Italy and his occupation was as a chocolatier. Imagine that.
After living for short times in Uruguay and Lima, Peru, in 1849 he moved to California on the recommendation of his former neighbor, James Lick, who had brought 600 pounds of chocolate from Peru with him to San Francisco in 1848. Caught up in the California Gold Rush, Ghirardelli spent a few months in the gold fields near Sonora and Jamestown, before deciding to become a merchant in Hornitos, California. Those towns, Sonora and Jamestown, are 15 miles from me, about 3,000 feet lower in elevation.
In 1852, he moved to San Francisco and established the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company at what would come to be known as Ghirardelli Square on Fisherman’s Wharf.
And now you know the history of the Ghirardelli chocolates that you might slip into a handmade card or holder–or that you might receive in a little hand stamped gift.