Geotourism and Mother’s Day Weekend in Historic Coulterville

By: Dr. Monty J. Thornburg, JMGC President

Mother’s Day weekend marked another historic first for Coulterville and its Geotourism roots. Geotourism as defined by the National Geographic Society, “enhances the historic and natural attributes of a place for both tourists and its citizens.” The John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC) is the first of its kind in the United States. The JMGC was contacted several weeks ago by TAUCK World Discovery, one of America’s most prestigious tour bus companies. They were interested in visiting the JMGC and Historic Coulterville on one of their newest tours. The TAUCK World Discovery tour travels from San Diego and includes Santa Barbara, Monterey, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa and Coulterville on its itinerary before reaching its final destination of San Francisco.

Joy Kitchel, the JMGC event planner for our 6th Annual John Muir Festival, organized arrangements with TAUCK when contacted at the JMGC and she with many volunteer Coulterville citizens on Mother’s Day happily greeted the 38 new visitors after much preparation work by Joy and Nina Mimnaugh owner of Sierra Flowers organized the greeting. This tour will continue each week for six consecutive weeks on Sunday’s and then switch to a bi-weekly schedule.

On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Sierra Flowers prepared for the event as they also made Mother’s Day flower deliveries for many happy homes across the area. Meanwhile, next door, the (new) Second Bench Gallery prepared under the direction of the curator Karen Wilson to be ready for a private showing of “The Yosemite Tapestries” to our Coulterville visitors. The private, Second Bench Gallery’s “Tapestries” exhibit is on permanent loan to the JMGC and is another step toward JMGC sustainability as an organization. One gallery visitor commented that he had seen the “Tapestries” in Yosemite as a youth – “it brought back fond memories” he said.

Also, on that same weekend, the JMGC participated in the “Heritage Day Festival” in Waterford, CA as a new partner with the City Council of Waterford. The JMGC partnership is to advance Geotourism along the entire Highway 132 route and particularly the beautiful unspoiled and scenic drive between Waterford and Coulterville that includes among other places; Horseshoe Bend that John Muir documented in 1869. Mayor Van Winkle of Waterford, former Mayor Turner, Councilman Whitfield and many others greeted us at the Waterford City Council booth where the JMGC participated during the festivities. Many citizens in Waterford were most interested to learn about the Coulterville, Waterford and JMGC connections and its 6th Annual John Muir Festival in Historic Coulterville.