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America on the Move
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The Mural
 

Finally, there’s a mural in the setting that shows the orchard and fields and the hills in the background. The exhibit space for Watsonville isn’t large, but we wanted to give people an impression of the valley and its cultivated lines of trees. Our muralists worked from many of the same sources I used to try to figure out what the valley would have looked like, and they used photos I took when I was in Santa Cruz County in 2000. I took pictures of the valley as it is today to get a sense of the mountains, the light, and the shape of the land. The muralists used those for inspiration, and the historical images for details.

The mural, in its early stages
The mural, in its early stages
Figures in Watsonville field in America on the Move exhibition
Figures in Watsonville field in America on the Move exhibition

The results of all this work, if I do say so myself, are fantastic. A small piece of 19th-century California now resides both in my imagination and tucked away in a corner of the National Museum of American History.

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