Chicago Park community celebrates 125 years of history by opening time capsule (VIDEO) |

Chicago Park community celebrates 125 years of history by opening time capsule (VIDEO)

Photo for The Union by Brian Hamilton

“Hmmmm …” 11-year-old Drew LaFerriere hummed, as he pondered the question, the same one posed just minutes before by Cherie Oliver of the Nevada County Historical Society.

“Where will you be 25 years from now?” Oliver asked a large contingent of students and community members huddled together Tuesday afternoon to celebrate 125 years of Chicago Park history.

Those on hand also were there to witness the opening of a time capsule buried beneath the post office flagpole, with directions emblazoned on a bronze plaque to open the capsule on April 30, 2013, exactly 25 years after it was buried as part of Chicago Park’s centennial celebration.

Although the capsule took on water, destroying much of the materials and documents tucked inside, there were several items that survived, including some photographs, newspapers, a discolored T-shirt from the centennial celebration and a balloon bearing the green and white school colors of the Chicago Park Trail Blazers.

“Today you’re participating in a bit of living history. I guarantee most of you will remember this day for the rest of your life.”
— Chicago Park Postmaster Vance “Bo” Salisbury

“Today you’re participating in a bit of living history,” Chicago Park Postmaster Vance “Bo” Salisbury told students circled around the post office’s front doors. “I guarantee most of you will remember this day for the rest of your life. But more than that, you’re going to have a reminder in the form of a time capsule.”

But before students and community members brought forth items for the next time capsule, several area residents spoke about the Chicago Park community, including Chris Bierwagen, of Bierwagen’s Donner Trail Fruit and Farm Market, who offered a five-minute history of the Chicago Park community.

In addition to touching up on the history of the Maidu and 49ers, Bierwagen spoke of the thousand acres of Bartlett pears that covered the hillsides in the “heyday,” until disease killed much of them and a land rush hit the area “because it’s such a great place to live.”

Several dignitaries spoke, such as Nevada County Supervisor Nate Beason and Browns Valley Postmaster Rhonda Flores, who talked of the Chicago Park post office’s history, as the community’s centennial celebration on April 30, 1988, was held 100 years after the local post office was established.

A certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for the 125-year celebration was presented by a representative of State Sen. Ted Gaines. Also on hand were Ann Ramey Walley of the Chicago Park Garden Club and former Chicago Park Postmaster Barbara Wilson, along with Peardale-Chicago Park Fire Chief Jim Bierwagen, who brought a fire department shoulder patch and photos of his department’s firefighting equipment for the new time capsule.

Chicago Park eighth-grader Courtney Schmidt, who serves as student council president, ran down a list of items her fellow Trail Blazers will bury with the new capsule, including class photos, a list of best first-grade memories, favorite books and music, predictions of what their lives will be like in 25 years — including technological advances such as the “iPhone 75” and laser eyeglasses — as well as a video interview of students on a flash drive, a signed Class of 2013 T-shirt and a cell phone that Principal Dan Zeisler obtained when it went unclaimed.

Also participating in the ceremony were Drew and Luke LaFerriere, members of the Chicago Park 4-H Club, which Salisbury said is the oldest continuously run 4-H Club in California (dating back to 1928). The LaFerriere brothers led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance to open the ceremony and then considered their own future 25 years from now, when the time capsule will be reopened on April 30, 2038.

“I guess I’ll probably still be here … I don’t know … with my future family?” said 11-year-old Drew, whose mother, Jessica, was 10 years old and in attendance when the last time capsule was buried.

“We live in town in Nevada City now,” Jessica LaFerriere said, noting she and her husband, Zack, bring their sons out to be members of the Chicago Park 4-H Club. “But we do love this town. If we could have found a house, we probably would have lived here.”

“It’s kind of cool that my mom was here when (the time capsule) was put in,” said 9-year-old Luke. “It does sound like a long time ago — the date does. But it doesn’t seem like she’s very old.”

To contact Managing Editor Brian Hamilton, email at or call 530-477-4249.

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