"Preserving The Past For Future Generations"
The Three Rivers Historical Society has been collecting artifacts and information about our area for over twenty years, and we were finally able to put it all together with the development of the Historical Museum in 2001. As you drive Sierra Drive/Hwy 198 East towards Sequoia National Park, you can't fail to notice the impressive statue of Paul Bunyan carved from a single fallen sequoia tree by Carroll Barnes, now deceased local artist, many years ago. Way larger than life, the statute stands in front as a sentinel. The Museum contains information and displays on the process of creating the huge statute, along with information and displays pertaining to the local Native Americans who resided in Three Rivers and the surrounding area before the Europeans arrived, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the early ranchers, and a failed attempt by Disney to turn Mineral King, now a section of Sequoia National Park, into a ski resort.
Three Rivers is located on the Kaweah River at the junction of its three or more tributaries in the southern Sierra Nevada. Before the mid-1850s the area was populated by the Indian tribes who found the native oak trees, plants, fish, small animals, etc. to be a veritable Eden for their survival. 1856 saw the first documented appearance of the white man into the area. His name was Hale Tharp and he settled on the river bottom, raising cattle and hogs.
By the 1870s many other farmers had come to the Three Rivers country and found it a secluded and ideal place to raise their domestic livestock. Many orchards of fruit and citrus trees were planted and thrived. And there were veins of silver ore.
In 1886, a group of 160 people came to the North Fork area of Three Rivers and established the Kaweah Colony, a Utopian settlement, based on Socialist principles. Their goal was to obtain the land where the giant Sequoia trees grow. However, in time, their petitions were denied and the Sequoia groves were saved from destruction.
The trees are now mostly contained in Sequoia National Park. With the creation of the Park in 1890, visitors to the area brought prosperity with more people wanting to live and make their homes here. In due course, schools were established, roads constructed and improved, and bridges were built across the rivers to carry the increased traffic.