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Cowboys history in Oakdale, Horseless carriages in Escalon
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A variety of important exhibits explaining the history of the region are on display at the Oakdale Cowboy Museum


209 staff reporter

What would the “Cowboy Capital of the World” be without a museum?

Fortunately those in the Stanislaus County enclave of Oakdale  that has become a bastion of the Old West amidst a flourishing California don’t ever have to find out.

The Oakdale Cowboy Museum – prominently positioned at the crossroads of the community which draw thousands of travelers during – if not more – during the busy summer months heading up to Yosemite National Park.

So just what are you going to find at a museum that pays tribute to the heritage of this part of the West?

A lot.

Later this year, the museum will be featuring a new exhibit – Head ‘Em Up, Move ‘Em Out – that takes a closer look at the historic cattle ranching families in California and how much things in their operations have changed sine gold was discovered in California in 1848.

Partially funded by a grant from Cal Humanities – a non-profit of the National Endowment for the Humanities – the exhibit will not only retrace the history of that enterprise, but also the issues being faced today as a result of environmental impacts, plunging meat prices and difficulties in transporting livestock to summer grazing areas at lower elevations, much like those just outside of Oakdale in the foothills.

And the exhibits always have a local touch.

Past exhibits have included “Tales of the Yosemite Backcountry” – which focused on the Mather Saddle and Pack Station that serviced that portion of the historic park – as well as “The Saddles of the Tool Trade” which detailed the intricate craftsmanship that went into the leatherwork of many ranchers and “Stone Fences” which answered the questions about who built the rolling rock walls visible from Highway 108 as it passes through Tuolumne, Calaveras and Mariposa counties.

The Oakdale Cowboy Museum is located at 355 E. F Street and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit or call 209.847-7049.

But it’s not the only museum that details local history in the region.

Over in Escalon, the Escalon Historical Museum – located at 1630 Main Street – honors the rich history of the community through a variety of exhibits, the most visible of which is the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe caboose that sits just across the street in Main Street Park. A retro kitchen, antique bedroom and display of historic medical equipment and memorabilia are all part of the unique charm that appeals to passersbys.

The museum is open Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call 209.838.7070.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.