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A no-cost way for a day of fun

Manteca museum offers plenty of hidden treasures

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A no-cost way for a day of fun

This is one of the displays in the museum annex.


POSTED June 23, 2009 2:00 a.m.

The Manteca museum offers plenty of things for visitors to discover for free.

First, there are the “hidden treasures.” These are the rusty remnants of various agricultural equipment found in the “memorial building” just literally a skip and a hop away from the main museum. A visit to this adjunct display area is definitely worth the extra step and time you make to get there. Everything on display here came from farms in Manteca and surroundings.

The largest of the outdoor collection should make every Mantecan truly proud: an almond harvester. This was the first one of its kind ever invented, and the inventor was none other than a Mantecan named Ben Goodwin.

Another large piece of equipment, but nowhere near the size of the almond harvester, is a piece of machinery called a hay raker. It came from the Albertsen-Rieger ranch in Lathrop where it was an indispensable work horse until it was displaced by modern machinery.  The old ranch, located on Harlan Road between the Hampton Inn and the Camino Real Mobile Home Park, was developed a few years ago into a small residential subdivision of two-story homes. Before ground was broken for the new development, Willard Rieger and wife Frankie of Manteca who both grew up in Lathrop, donated the old hay raker to the museum. The Riegers both belong to pioneer families in the area. The raker was towed to the museum by Frank Mendes and son Ray, who are also members of a pioneer farming family in the Manteca and Lathrop areas. One of the smaller items in the farming machinery menagerie is a potato digger donated by the family of museum docent Victor Gully. The potato digger and the equipment on display were from the 1920s and 1930s.

Some of the families that donated these items have since quit their small family-owned farms, while a few others are still flourishing under the management of the families’ second- or third-generation members.

A part of the outdoor exhibit is impossible to ignore. It’s not a farm tool but it definitely was part of farm life in days of yore. It’s a genuine outhouse – cleaned up for display, of course – that was donated to the museum about two years ago.

More farming treasures that both delight and educate visitors are found inside the memorial building. They include scores of items that were once staples in area farms and dairies. There is even a replica of a milking barn complete with a life-sized plaster cow. While the barn is just a replica, the hand-milking apparatus are real. They are things that were actually used in area dairies. They include a milking stool, milking pail, and milk containers.

Museum always in
need of volunteers

The exhibits are not the only attractions at the museum, though. Also open to the public, in addition to the displays, is the monthly program meeting held every second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. and presented by the Manteca Historical Society.

Admission to the museum is free. Visiting hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m., and Thursdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.
The museum is located at 600 West Yosemite, corner of Sequoia Avenue.

The Manteca Historical Society, which established the historical museum, was chartered in 1990 as a nonprofit organization
The museum is always in need of volunteers, “regardless of one’s age or length of time in the area,” who can volunteer a few hours each month.

The museum is also open to group tours by calling Mary Smith at (209) 823-0230 or Phyllis Abram at (209) 239-0744.

For more information about the museum, call during regular business hours at (209) 825-3021.

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