Yolo — November 15, 2012

A Brief Look at Yolo

Engine 1233 at the Woodland Railroad Museum, northeast of Sacramento, California

Engine 1233 at the Woodland Railroad Museum, northeast of Sacramento, California. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Yolo County, in California, is full of treasures. One might even say, “it’s full of surprises” to be found by simply exploring its countryside, small communities, and few densely populated small towns.

On my Photo Journey of November 15, 2012, I returned to one of those treasures that I stumbled upon (almost literally) a couple of years ago, one that was surely a surprise.

My original plans were to visit the charming little Mary’s Chapel and accompanying graveyard, and then possibly go northeast to little spots on the road like East Nicolaus, and Nicolaus. But I decided, being so close to Woodland, that after capturing several photos and ingesting the serene ambiance of Mary’s Chapel, I would travel down to Woodland, saving the other spots for a later visit.

Mary's Chapel, north of Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California

Mary’s Chapel, north of Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California
(Click on the photo for a larger view)

Mary’s Chapel and Cemetery is seemingly close to “the middle of nowhere,” even though it is just a few short (8.6) miles north of Woodland, and only about 2 miles from Interstate 5. It is a peaceful and restful place, with only occasional traffic from working farmers and the rare traveler.

Here’s its history, in a nutshell, from interment.net: “This cemetery dates back to the 1850s with a church being built on the grounds in 1857. The church was destroyed by fire in 1898 and in 1900, Mary Cross Pockman rallied the community in rebuilding the church which still stands and is known as Mary’s Chapel and hence the name of the cemetery. Mary’s Cemetery is in good condition and still in use.” (from: http://www.interment.net/data/us/ca/yolo/marys/index.htm)

Plaque on Mary's Chapel

Plaque on Mary’s Chapel
(Click on the photo for a larger view)

The plaque attached to front side of the chapel in 1985 also attributes another Mary: Mary Alice Morris, and the community for helping in the rebuilding.

Granted, cemeteries aren’t likely candidates for typical sight-seers, but they can be fascinating by virtue of the surviving artwork on the tombstones alone, and, in this case, the pleasant drive to the country: real country.

I first “discovered” this site in February, 2010, when photographing west of Zamora, just up Interstate 5 from Yolo. Taking the long way from there to Woodland and exploring the back country roads, I happened upon a small county sign along County Road 98 which read something to the effect of “Mary’s Chapel Two Miles Ahead.” That piqued my curiosity which led me directly to the site. At the end of the day on my second visit, a local farmer stopped to talk on his way home. He was an amateur photographer and appreciated my work. He said he had “reserved” a place there.

With a little web-investigation, I found a few links that told me more about the site, including a very brief mention of the movie, “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” a film about pop singer Tina Turner. Apparently, Mary’s Chapel was used in opening scenes to the movie of a wedding. Apparently, it is still used for funerals and weddings.

Country side on Road 15 near Interstate 5, north of Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California

Country side on Road 15 near Interstate 5, north of Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California
(Click on the photo for a larger view)

Traveling on to Woodland, I first encountered a great little country photo op, from which I have two photos in the accompanying slideshow. This is the kind of rural area where every turn reveals something of beauty and/or interest.

Woodland has changed considerably in recent years, I was surprised at the increased enhancements and beautifications since my last visit within the past year. This Photo Journey is just a cursory introduction to the Yolo County seat, as well as an invitation and reminder to myself to return for a thorough look and shoot of the its rich historical heritage found in its architecture, not to mention its historical origins and development through the years.

North Valley Bank, downtown Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California

North Valley Bank, downtown Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California, northeast of Sacramento, California
(Click on the photo for a larger view)

I was lucky to have found a handy parking spot just behind the Woodland Opera House, a beautifully restored theatre that is again in full use. Deciding to make a full circle, I walked up one side of the street and back down the other, meeting and talking with some very interesting people, and relishing the old blended into the new—or vice-versa.

I was hungry by then, and had a hard time choosing from which of the many eateries to, well, eat. We ended up in the BBQ place right next to the Opera House, Ludy’s.

Exterior of Woodland Opera House (Ludy's is behind the red wall), downtown Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California, northeast of Sacramento, California

Exterior of Woodland Opera House (Ludy’s is behind the red wall), downtown Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, California, northeast of Sacramento, California. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Refreshed and revived, we turned around the corner to find some people entering the Woodland Opera House. Being photographers, we followed our nature as well as them, received a friendly hello and “go right ahead” signal in the office, and basked in the beauty of years once gone, and now returned. In short, “What a gorgeous place.” I had attended a couple of first rate, near professional, performances there and found myself marveling at the exquisiteness of the theatre as much as the quality of the production.

This beautiful theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a California Historical Landmark. It is one of four fully functioning 19th century opera houses in California, and is a contributing property to the Downtown Historic District of Woodland, California. (from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodland_Opera_House_State_Historic_Park)

As mentioned above, Woodland is definitely on the return visit list for an in-depth look at the community in pictures and words.

Vanessa McClintock
Copyright © 2013 by Vanessa McClintock
November 28, 2012

To view and purchase all of these photos from the slideshow to Yolo County, please visit my online photo gallery (click here).

To see an introductory slideshow of this Photo Journey into Yolo County, with an original soundtrack composed by me, the photographer, click on the “Play” arrow at the bottom left of the image, below. If you are viewing this on a desktop computer, the slideshow should start by simply clicking once on the slideshow image.

Journey Ratio
This journey was probably divided with the Journey Ratio of:

  • Quest: 20%
  • Exploration: 30%
  • Adventure: 50%

(See my Philosophy page for more information about Journey Ratio.)
I’m looking forward to bringing you my next journey.

Where Is It?

Mary’s Chapel and Cemetery is at the intersection of County Road 98 and County Road 15.

GPS Coordinates are: Lat: 38° 45′ 49″N, Lon: 121° 48′ 12″W

Just paste 38° 45′ 49″N, 121° 48′ 12″W into your favorite browser map for a precise location. Click here for a direct link

Woodland is a little north and then due west from Sacramento, about 20 miles.
Yolo is northwest of Woodland, just off Interstate 5, about six miles.

Links for this Photo Journey:

Mary’s Chapel and Cemetery See the Sacramento River . . . by Car
By Bill Paxson
Yolo County Cemeteries – Past and Present — Page 3
The California GenWeb Project
This Site is part of the USGenWeb Project
Film in America: “What’s Love Got to Do with It”
IMDB (Internet Movie DataBase)
1993 movie about Tina Turner
Yolo County and Community Yolo (the community) — Wikipedia
Yolo County — official site
Yolo County — Wikipedia
Yolo County Visitor’s Center
Woodland Woodland — official site
Woodland — Wikipedia
Woodland Opera House

10 thoughts on “Yolo — November 15, 2012

  1. Hi, Bob. Couldn’t get the slide show to work. It started, then shut off early. Windows! Anyway, I looked at the slides . . . very nice. Next time you go back to Woodland, explore the Electric Garage. It’s an old building on the north side of Main St. several blocks east of the Opera House. It sold, maintained and repaired electric cars, as I understand, back in the 1910’s. After they went out of vogue, it was a Plymouth Sales and Service Center. Don’t remember what’s there now. And if you’ve not been to the Truck and Tractor Museum, you must go. kent

  2. Bob, Nice job. I love our historic towns including Woodland. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to perform at the Opera House. I have also done a photo shoot at Reiff’s Antique Gas Station Automotive Museum there in Woodland. Enjoyed your music as well. Regards, Jay

    • Thanks, on all counts, Jay.
      You are very fortunate, in my opinion, to have performed in such a beautiful place.
      I’m looking forward to visiting the gas station museum.

  3. About 12 or 13 years ago a friend of mine that lived near Mary’s Chapel rescued the original windows. They were replacing them for some reason, and were going to dump the original ones. She asked me if I wanted them. I used 6 of them on a building I built when we owned the Snowball Mansion in Knights Landing. This past weekend I started on a “outside” window using the remaining one I had left. If you would like I can send a picture of what I am building. I now live in the Durham House, in Durham ca. The window is under a 500 year old oak tree in our yard.

    • Hello JW Fuhring!
      Your post piqued my interest, so I did a few quick searches for the Snowball Mansion, Durham House, and even found W.W. Durham’s last will–amazingly sparse 🙂

      With your permission, I will add the photo to the “Journey” and give you credit. I would appreciate a very brief background to the photo and window, such as you have stated.

      My, your Durham House is truly elegant!

      You may send the photo to vanessa@ and use my-neighborhoods.net

      Thank you,


      P.S. I will soon be updating “my-neighborhoods.net” to correspond to my personal update, that of Vanessa 🙂

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