Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Grizzly Adams" on MT.Diablo?

Here is a cool Local Legendary Figure ! You may remember the legendary Grizzly Adams from the popular TV show in the 70s... His Character was played by Dan Haggerty  portraying a burly thick bearded mountain man who had a Grizzly as a friend ...What you may not know about John Adams, better known as 'Grizzly' Adams, is that he actually roamed the Contra Costa wilderness during 1854-55. He is remembered as one of the strangest characters that the Old West ever spawned.
Born in 1812 in Massachusetts, Adams was an adventurous lad exploring the swamps and woodlands of his home. But serious injuries suffered at the jaws of a circus tiger forced him into the boring life of a village bootmaker. In 1849 the call of gold proved stronger than family or friends. Adams quickly abandoned his home and headed for California seeking a fortune and the spice of adventure.
Once in the far West, Grizzly Adams made and lost at least three personal fortunes. Adams found digging for gold, farming and ranching less appealing than living as a professional hunter. Also known as the 'Wild Yankee', John 'Grizzly' Adams developed a fearsome reputation as a killer of grizzlies. More than once he survived hand to hand combat with the giant beasts. He always carried a huge bowie knife. This was a wise precaution for it saved his life several times.
Eventually Grizzly began earning money trapping bears and selling them for use in exhibits and bear & bull fights. Two huge grizzlies, 'Ben Franklin' and 'Lady Washington,' were raised from cubs and were his favorite companions. These magnificent creatures followed him everywhere like giant dogs enhancing his legendary status among even the hardest-to-impress frontiersmen.
On expeditions to the Humboldt Mountains in Nevada and the Rockies, Grizzly Adams hunted buffalo, bear and collected furs. He also brought back live bears, wolves and pumas to California for sale and exhibitions.
By late 1854 Grizzly had abandoned the gold fields of the Sierra Nevada's. Adams found the poorly explored, hot, brushy Coast Ranges of California a paradise for bears, pumas, deer and even an occasional jaguar. He established a permanent hunting camp in the isolated Corral Hollow area of eastern Alameda County at the very edge of the San Joaquin Valley. From his base camp Grizzly Adams would often hunt on Mount Diablo and its Contra Costa foothills, a wilderness rich in elk, deer, bears and mountain lions.
Like so much of the Old West, Grizzly Adams was a mass of contradictions. He loved adventure but after being mauled by a Bengal tiger as a young man, he spent most of his life as a simple cobbler. Adams made his reputation killing grizzlies but deeply loved his many grizzly pets and companions. The 'Wild Yankee' delighted in telling "whoppers" to the incredulous public but some of his wildest tales turned out to be true. In the end his death by a monkey was as strange as his life as both a killer and friend of his ferocious bears.This Historic account of John Adams  can be found at Contra Costa History...

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