Graniteville, California

A historic mining town in the Sierra Nevada mountains

Get me to the Doc’s…quick!!!

The birth of my father Donald C. Kyle, as told to Barry Kyle by his sister Bea Kyle while touring old Graniteville in June, 1967.

Kyle home EagleMine ii In the summer of 1914, Graniteville was still buried deep in snow that year.  All of the roads to Nevada City were impassable and snow tunnels were still being used between the cabins and stores. Annie Kyle being nine months pregnant had hoped that the warm days of July would change all of that, but time was running out.  She was “due” and back then the nearest family doctor lived in Nevada City. In these weather conditions, that was good day’s horse ride from Graniteville.

Realizing the family’s Model T was useless in the snow, husband Bill Kyle asked the towns folks for help locating a horse and sleigh for the long trip. Uncle Will McLean came to the rescue finding the necessary transportation and a volunteer driver for the long round trip.  Serving as their driver, Uncle Will was familiar with horse/mules, traveling in the featureless snow and the roads to Nevada City. Arriving at the Kyle’s house he picked up Annie, Bill and the children as they headed for the “City” through the scenic snow country. “The kids loved it but Momma was in pain and did not want to deliver in the middle of nowhere”, Bea recalled. After all, it was a very difficult ride for any woman in that condition.

Everything was going well until they reached the Yuba River. Crossing the small bridge with several horses and the sleigh was impossible this time of the year. Actually, it was not safe anytime of the year and needed to be replaced often due to the bad winter snows, heavy commercial loads and frequent use by travelers. Fearing it would collapse, Bill saw no choice but for all of them to disembark the sleigh and walk slowly across the bridge. At his command, everyone including Annie (now fully in labor) got out and walked carefully single file across the bridge to the other side.

Now on the other side, the family watched as Uncle Will and Bill each grabbed a horse and escorted them across the bridge. Suddenly, the horses hearing the river water below became spooked by the noise and refused to move forward or backwards. Using an old mule trick he learned in French Corral years later, Uncle Will coached the horses across the bridge with their eyes completely covered by his huge hat.  It worked!

The family and animals now safe, Bill and Will served as human horses pulling and pushing the huge sleigh across the wooden bridge. Free of the bridge, they reassembled the horses to the sleigh to complete the trip to town. Annie begged them to hurry.  In response, Uncle Will drove the horse tired “like the wind” down from the mountains to Nevada City.

At Doc’s office on California St. Annie stayed in the back bedroom until Donald C Kyle was born in the early morning hours.  Annie stayed at Doc’s with her oldest daughter Babe and Donald until they all recovered and it was safe to return home.  The roads now passable, this time they traveled home to Graniteville in the family Model T with their new son.

Thanks to Aunt Bea for telling me that story so many

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