After spending Memorial Day weekend in Angels Camp, California with Herb Greene and our Dead Head friends - New and Old we came away with an obscure story. Or so we thought! In my last e-mail I asked you all who knew the history behind the Frogs and here is what I found out you knew:
Kevin Anspach wrote:
In 1865, Samuel l. Clemens (Mark Twain) penned "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", a tall tale of the life and happenings of the gold rush town, Angels Camp. The narrator details a story he heard in a tavern. It is about a frog, Dan'l Webster, who could out jump any other frog, and a man, Jim Smiley, who was the "curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned up you ever see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side; and if he couldn't he'd change sides." (1) Jim Smiley had bet forty dollars. Smiley was figuring that his frog could "out jump any frog in Calaveras County". (2) He met a stranger who filled Dan'l Webster with buckshot, therefore winning the frog jump and the forty dollars in gold. Figuring out what happened Smiley ran after the stranger but he never caught him. The story was published and delighted audiences worldwide but didn't appear to have much impact on Calaveras County until much later.
The Angels Camp Boosters, a community service organization, which began in 1925 and still exists today, decided that a celebration was in order. Their original idea was to hold the "Days of 49", but a visiting minister, the Reverend Brown, suggested they use the famous Mark Twain story theme. Therefore on May 19 and 20, 1928, the first Jumping Frog Jubilee was held on Main Street, down town Angels Camp. Due to the formidable efforts of this group of dedicated promoters, including the future Senator, Jesse M. Mayo, the attendance at the first Jumping Frog Jubilee was estimated to be 15,000. The festivities included a large parade featuring bands, wagons, floats and of course the Jumping Frog Contest. The winner was named "Pride of San Joaquin", jockeyed by Louis Fisher of Stockton.
The frog jumped 3'6".
In the 1920's and early 1930's the crowds at the Annual Jumping Frog Jubilee grew to 25,000 spectators. The jubilee was suspended in 1933 because of the depression. In 1938 the two events, the County Fair and the Jumping Frog Jubilee were combined.
So the frog story comes from Mark Twains book "The celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". He was in Angels Camp when he wrote it. It was his first published work I think.... And now they hold the jumping frog jubilee every year there.
Famous frog-jumping contest memorialized in Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." Newsreel story presenting the 100th anniversary of the contest.
And James wrote:
They have an annual frog hopping contest there.....
The "celebrated jumping frogs of Calaveras County" was penned by Mark Twain when he lived in a small cabin that still exists near angels camp. The county fair still has a competition that adds the total distance of three hops from a lilypad start. The big frogs are scattered around Angels camp and have been designed by local artists.
Commemorates the paving of the main road (1920's) which was then celebrated by a frog jump/leap contest. Also references Mark Twain.
I was in Angels Camp last weekend but missed the freakin flying frogs. But I had a beer with Mark Twain, or at least one of his books.
The story of the frogs is that a story written by Mark Twain was written there. The story was celebrated with a jumping frog jubilee at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds (the same place the Furthur Festival was held). Angels Camp, also where the festival was, is also refered to as frogtown, and that is why there was all of the frogs.
And finally David wrote:
Mark Twain wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", a tall tale of the life and happenings of the gold rush town, Angels Camp.
But wait - what is this story all about?
My story is.......(no kidding!) that Reinald and I drove through Angel's camp after we 1st moved over from Berlin to Ca., before my son was born, naturally. We loved the idea of the competition and thought we could do a hands across the sea thing by entering a frog originating from Berlin. Even called Lufthansa Airlines to see if they'd be interested in sponsoring it. They were amused and said to send details, which we never followed up on. Idea was probably hatched after too much wine and when sober we decided it would be too much work.
(This story edited to protect the identity of the author!)
Thanks for the fun contributions!