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January 31, 2000

Santa Cruz historian dishes up the dirt on the San Lorenzo River in UCSC talk

By Barbara McKenna

Santa Cruz historian Sandy Lydon will be the featured guest for the upcoming Cowell College Night. He will present a slide show and talk titled, "River's Child: A Water-Level History of Santa Cruz and her Mother of a River." The talk, free and open to the public, takes place on Monday, February 7, at 7:30 p.m. in UCSC's Cowell College Dining Hall.

Lydon, a professor of history at Cabrillo College, has a longstanding personal history with the San Lorenzo River, having first set foot in it more than 50 years ago as a steelhead fisherman.

The history surrounding the river is colorful and sometimes dramatic. According to Lydon, pioneers who came to Santa Cruz in its early days laughed at the city plan that had set the town of Santa Cruz in a floodplain. And, Lydon jokes, people are still laughing.

Along with pondering the ramifications of the location of Santa Cruz, Lydon will also demonstrate how the river bottom was--and continues to be--the bottom rung on Santa Cruz's economic ladder: From Chinatown to the Homeless Shelter, Santa Cruz has always relegated its poorest citizens to the river bottom. Lydon will also clear up some of the mythology about the San Lorenzo, and speculate about the river's future.

In conjunction with the talk, Lydon will lead a guided walk along the San Lorenzo on Sunday, February 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets for the walk are $3 and can be purchased at the Monay night lecture. Those who wish to participate in the walk are required to attend the lecture. A bag lunch is recommended for the walk.

For more information, call (831) 459-2255.

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