Mines, Murders and Grizzlies

Tales of California's Ventura Back Country

by Charles F. Outland

Originally published by the Ventura County Historical Society of California and the Arthur H. Clark Company in 1969 and revised in 1986. What follows is a short excerpt that was printed with permission in the February, 1992, edition of the Rainbow Riders' Trading Post for Insulator Collectors.

"In April, 1881, travelers on the Newhall stagecoach were dumb-founded to see a grizzly bear near the old San Martine stage line station, one half mile east of the county line, rubbing against a telegraph pole and amusing himself with some rather unorthodox bear behavior. It remained for H.G. McLean of the Free Press to come up with a plausible answer to the grizzly's antics.

Mac had studied reports from the hinterlands of Europe wherein the telegraph companies had been faced with no end of trouble from bears knocking down and destroying their poles. The theory was advanced that bears were attracted to the poles by the humming of the wires, which Bruin interpreted as being caused by a colony of bees. Bees meant honey, and the bears became downright obnoxious when their usually reliable methods of extracting the sweet fluid failed miserably upon being applied to humming telegraph poles.

This grizzly sighting at San Martine was one of the last in the Santa Clara Valley, the only area with telegraph poles. McLean's theory would never have a chance to be proved."

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Written Wednesday, January 22, 1997