by Derryl Dumermuth
A valuable resource for the student attempting to learn of Tulare's unique history can be found in the files of the town's early newspapers. Our favorite city was only 14 years old when this editorial appeared in the TULARE REGISTER on February 5, 1886. Nothing much has changed - the city administration still fields complaints, often concerning street conditions. Keep in mind that no street in Tulare was paved until about 1915, and thus our by-ways would always be either dusty or muddy, and mixed with generous amounts of horse manure.
“Tulare Street is in worse condition than Front Street, and Front Street is muddy and nasty, too. Tulare Street has never had just the right treatment, but has had a great deal of the wrong kind of work done on it. When a hole is discovered some brilliant reformer has some dirt hauled in and hole filled up.
This sort of business will, in the next generation, lift Tulare street until it will be higher above the surrounding country than the top of Dr. Murphy’s building. In this way Jerusalem and Rome have been buried until when modern Jews and Romans dig wells they not infrequently strike water at the chimney tops of their forefathers.
All that Tulare Street needs, but it needs it badly, is to have a few furrows plowed along the gutter and the dirt removed to the center, making a regular curved surface for the street from sidewalk to sidewalk, but the center of the street should be kept two or three inches lower than the outer edge of the sidewalks. No more dirt should be hauled into the street upon any pretext whatever.”
Those few early country roads that existed were in even more deplorable condition. Today we take for granted that it's possible to travel on a hard surface road from Tulare to any town in the county. But long before Highway 99 was built it wasn't that way, as is evident from this editorial which appeared in the May 31, 1883 issue of the TULARE REGISTER.
"It would be very much to the interest of Tulare City to have a county road laid out from here to Goshen. There is quite a large settlement north of Packwood Creek that would trade here a portion of the time at least if there were any convenient way of getting here. Several attempts have been made to have one laid out, but the matter has not been pushed as it deserves to be.
At present if anyone desires to come to Tulare from the neighborhood, he has a half-dozen gates to open, has to follow a cow-path, encounter crossings that are well nigh impassable, and can only come at all by the sufferance of the owners of the land through which he passes.
Some of the parties through whose land the road would pass are willing to give the right of way, but we are sorry to say there are some others who claim very high damages, but it can be put through if the citizens of Tulare insist upon it. We must keep the avenues to our town open if we are to enjoy a thriving trade. Will some solid citizen start a petition at once?"
Derryl Dumermuth is a retired Tulare Union High School mathematics teacher, past president of the Tulare City Historical Society, coordinator of the docent program at the Tulare Historical Museum, author of A Town Called Tulare and co-author with wife Wanda of Tulare Legends and Trivia from A to Z.