Friday, July 8, 2016

Rush Ranch's South Pasture Trail

Bed Rock Mortars along South Pasture Trail

Rush Ranch's blacksmith shop
The South Pasture Trail mostly traverses Rush Ranch grassland east of the Suisun Marsh. The trail begins south of the barn between the blacksmith shop and the antique farm equipment. First, you will pass an Aermotor Windmill (702 Model); or, maybe, you want to spend some time at the windmill and read about its history and technical details. This farm windmill was made by Aeromotor, a manufacturer in Kansas in 1932. The structure is moderate in size, compared to a tall tower of a modern wind turbine. It actually is a windpump, employed to fill the ranch's stock water tanks. This windpump converts the rotary motion generated by the wind-blown wheel of steel blades into a steady up and down pumping stroke. An informative panel on-site explains: “The piston-pump cylinder pulls the water out of the well and pushes it through the distribution lines to the stock water tanks. The modern water-pumping windmill has gone through very little evolution in the past century and serves as a testament to its perfect design.”

A windpump south of Rush Ranch's barn complex

As you continue southbound on the trail, you will cross Spring Ranch Creek and come to an overlook. Follow the path where a sign announces that the trail is maintained by the employees of Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. to get to the Bed Rock Mortars. Soon you will stand in front of the Grinding Rock used by local Patwin Indians for food grinding. What kind of diet did they grind on this rock? According to a panel next to the mortars, Patwin Indians may have ground dried meat, which they prepared from waterfowl and salmon they successfully trapped or speared. The Suisun Slough and its surrounding marshlands certainly must have been an excellent hunting ground.

While you are completing your South Pasture loop trail hike, you will find other points of interest described in the South Pasture Trail Guide hand-out available at the visitor center. While studying the objects next to the trail, don't miss the views of the nearby tidal march—Suisun Marsh—and Mount Diablo further south.  

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