Founder’s Day at museum marks when first Southern Pacific passenger train arrived on Nov. 20, 1886

TEMPLETON — Rain did not keep people away from celebrating the founding of Templeton last Saturday, Nov. 18. Hosted by the Templeton Historical Society and Museum, the community took shelter in the town’s historical buildings to celebrate Founder’s Day on Main Street.

Templeton’s Founder’s Day is marked by when the first Southern Pacific passenger train arrived in the new town of Templeton on Nov. 20, 1886. Southern Pacific was extending the railroad from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Templeton was the route terminus for three years.

The day was complete with dessert — traditionally the museum serves cake, which is a community favorite — live music, blacksmithing demonstrations, and museum tours.


Templeton Historical Society Chair Jayme Finley, said of the time honored event, “We feel it’s important for people to be aware how Templeton was founded and the history and teach especially kids how important the history of Templeton is.”

David Thayer returned to provide blacksmithing demonstrations in the museum’s early 1900s blacksmith shop. Additionally, the museum house and railroad depot were open for the public. Antique vehicles, railroad artifacts, hit-and-miss engine displays, and activities for children were available throughout the day.

This was Thayer’s second year demonstrating blacksmithing at Founder’s Day. While he has been a fabricator artist most of his life, he dove into blacksmithing following the COVID pandemic. As a certified level 2 instructor with the California Blacksmith Association and Templeton Historical Society member, he is looking forward to bringing more blacksmithing activities to the library and working to preserve the town’s blue-collar history.

“Founders Day is just the genuine celebration of the history and origin of Templeton and the museum is perfectly positioned for it,” said Thayer.

For a donation to the museum, visitors to the blacksmithing demonstrations could have a quarter stamped with the museum’s initials, or receive a heart shaped horseshoe.

Also inside the depot building are railroad artifacts, the 1932 Templeton school bus, and a model of the old stockyard.

Formed in 1989, the Templeton Historical Museum Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting artifacts and records relating to the history of Templeton and the surrounding area. The organization resides on Main Street in the Horstman house, which was transformed into the Templeton Museum and officially opened to the public on Oct. 18, 1998. The group has been remembering that historic date since 2006. 

The museum, however, is now looking to expand as it have outgrown its walls. The museum and historical society are currently raising funds for the proposed Heritage House to provide a new home for their growing collection of antique vehicles and more. An estimated $250,000 is needed for the new building, which will house the 1933 school bus, 1927 Model T, 1926 Model T Firetruck, and 1934 Templeton Firetruck, just to name a few.

The museum is staffed entirely by volunteers and is open Friday through Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Learn more about Templeton’s history here

Feature Image: From left: Chet Finley, Dede and Greg Webster whose families share multi generational history in the area. Photos by Derek Luff