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Posts tagged “Evolution Hospitality

Paranormal Shower

On Wednesday, Jamie and I (Heather) headed down to EVP’s favorite haunt, The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca. Armed with nothing more than our cell phone cameras, our goal was simple: to view the ship through fresh eyes.  Between changing lease holders and pending developments for the land adjacent, there has been a lot of buzz regarding the ship. Though we are privy to the now age-old and glaringly obvious issues surrounding Her care and maintenance, we wondered what the public, who know nothing of the battle over her treatment, see when they tour her historic decks.

Of course, a trip to the RMS Queen Mary would not be complete without an honorable mention for her resident spirits, of which there are many. However, this time, we also encountered some unusual energies we could not quite place. Before I continue, let me state that this story comes with no proof. For the skeptic it will be, at best, conjecture and, at worst, a fairy tale woven around delusions. But for the many of you out there who have visited the ship and come away with a sense that something strange is afoot, I think you will understand.

I’m not a psychic; however, I do tend to be very sensitive to energies and emotions, particularly when I am on the ship. And when Jamie and I are together, for whatever reason, it seems to amplify our receptiveness. (Jamie doesn’t identify as a psychic either but she totally is one. Sorry about it Jamie!)

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Wonder Twin powers…ACTIVATE!

Our team has been on many private investigations and we’ve made countless casual visits. The ship is active at all times of the day but when it is crowded, the energy of the living is like a buffer of white noise that sometimes makes it difficult to focus on which spirits may be coming around to say “hi.” It was nice to be aboard on a quiet day, left to stroll this familiar piece of history without the need to escape a million screaming children or to avoid the large tours.

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A quiet Promenade.

Our walk took us down The Promenade Deck where we were greeted by what felt like four men. I could feel their presence so strongly that they felt almost visible and I paused. It’s interesting but dismissible when you feel/see something like that on your own. But when you have a trusted friend with you who also sees it, it’s a relief. After years of dealing with this sort of thing I STILL wonder if I am crazy or making things up. And Jamie’s immediate acknowledgment of exactly what I am picking up on settles what would otherwise be an endlessly muttering argument that does nothing but cast doubts on my perceptions and degrades any further experiences.

The men were standing side by side, lined up and staring at us, their expressions unmoving and rather blank. Their clothes were dirty and their energy was heavy. It felt like they were lost. We concluded that they must have been related to the boiler room and moved on, asking that the spirits give us some space so that we could continue our visit without feeling like we were going to fall over.

Let me explain a bit. I’m sure that different people experience the paranormal in different ways. But our team has come up with a saying that we use amongst ourselves. We call it being “on the boat,” and, amazingly, it did not originate from our experiences with The Queen Mary. Originally, the saying was born from a very horrible cruise I took down to Mexico for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It think that “my grandmother’s 90th birthday” pretty much sums up my experience but, in case you’re having a hard time visualizing it, let me just say that it felt very much like this:

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Anyway, once I was released from the boat-prison disguised as a pleasure cruise and my feet were on solid ground, I noticed the most peculiar sensation. For several days I felt as if I was still on the boat. It took a while to regain my equilibrium. It was actually the best part of the cruise. As it turns out, this is also how it feels when our team comes into contact with spirits. When the energy is particularly strong, it can make you stumble like a drunk. And when we see each other doing this, we now ask “Are you on the boat?”

Energy came and went as we went about our day. We experienced a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar energies that, for the most part, were fleeting. However, neither of us could rid ourselves of the nagging feeling that the four men we first encountered were very out of place. Though we had dismissed them as having come up from the boiler rooms, neither of us were satisfied with this assumption. This may sound too ethereal for some but, it just didn’t feel right.

Towards the end of our day, as we ended our self-guided tour on R Deck in front of the entrance to the First Class Pool, we sat on the steps in front of the now defunct elevators, and began laying out our feelings regarding these gentleman. We concluded that, they could not get back to wherever they had come from, an unusual conclusion to reach for any of the ship’s own ghostly residents, most of whom, in our experience, can find their way with ease throughout the ship.

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R-deck. Original entrance to The First Class Pool

If those men had come from the boilers or engine room, was there something going on that would displace them? Wondering if maybe management was doing work in those areas of the ship we headed down to The Queen Mary Story which is housed close to what remains of those areas to see if it would provide us with any obvious answers. Much to our surprise, it did.

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Upon entering the lower levels of the museum, we were immediately greeted by a mess of what, at first glance,  looked like construction and some pretty chaotic energy. Turns out, a recent temporary exhibit, “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock,” had just ended.  The exhibit space now empty, they were in the process of breaking down the remainder of the sets and displays. I imagine that whatever artifacts they had on loan were already on their way back to the lender.

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As we sat there, feeling the place out and assembling the pieces of the day’s puzzle, we wondered if the four men we saw on The Promenade Deck had not come from the ship at all, but had instead,  arrived with the Alcatraz artifacts. Had they missed their ride home?

Of course, we couldn’t be sure but it felt plausible and likely that this was the case. None too creeped out, we were lucky that our next stop was an awesome metaphysical store called Sage Goddess where we were able to clear ourselves of any unwanted attachments. (Because really, who wants to bring home one or four Alcatraz inmates?)

I’ll taaaake THAT ONE…

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On second thought….

We mentioned where we had been, what we had encountered and the lovely running the store immediately got out the sage and smudged us. I do not know WHY we have never done this. I can’t count the number of times one or all of us have brought something home from haunted locations. We often wake up the next day feeling horrible; exhausted, used up, foggy, sore and depressed. Have we ever smudged ourselves? No. Downright irresponsible in retrospect. Why would we cleanse our spaces and not ourselves! It’s a paranormal shower.

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I dig Palo Santo wood because Sage smells like armpit.

We learned a lot during our latest visit to The Queen Mary. We saw her through fresh eyes, noticed details we had never seen, met a few surprising historical ghosts and, most importantly, we were reminded of how important it is to protect yourself when dealing with haunted locations. Even when you know a location well and her spirits feel like old friends ready to welcome you back, it is possible that surprises are lurking. So go in and enjoy your experiences but make sure you leave the ghosts behind!

Aside from the link to Sage Goddess above, you can also find Athena’s offerings in her brick and mortar in Torrance, Ca, OR on Etsy!

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A New Lease on Hope

Just wanted to take some time to talk about our favorite haunt “The Queen Mary” in Long Beach, California. She’s been in the news a great deal lately and there has been a lot of buzz about the possible changes both she and the land surrounding her could see within the next five years.

As some of you know, The Mary is near and dear to our hearts. Our small team consists of three native Southern Californians. She was a part of our childhoods and she has become an even bigger part of our adult lives. The word ~passion~ succeeds only in describing the surface of our love for this historic wonder.

Queen Mary Night Time Thought Bubble copy

Her history since finding a permanent home in our very own backyard has been disheartening. To the casual onlooker, she is an aging landmark in need of some repair. To those who look more closely, she is an aging landmark in need of ~serious~ repair and restoration. And to those who have come to know her from stem to stern, she is a victim of utter neglect. But for those of us who have done some digging, who have tried to champion her cause, the outward signs of deterioration speak to more than just a simple case of laissez-faire.

In fact, a glimpse behind the scenes reveals that the whole of her retirement time-line has been plagued by rough seas. And while it is convenient to point the finger at the city who owns her, from what we can tell, even they have been victimized by those they appointed to operate her in good faith.

I’m not trying to excuse the decades-long string of terrible decisions regarding the ship. At the end of the day, The Mary is the one to suffer from every single one. But the blame game accomplishes nothing other than to divide what could otherwise be a very powerful, supporting force that the ship so badly needs. It distracts from the real problem that has been the root of all the troubles these many years:

NO ONE, NOT EVEN DISNEY, KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH HER.

It seems like a simple concept. But identifying the problem is only the first step. And it is a step that has yet to be successfully completed. She’s a hotel! She’s a museum! She’s a hotel/museum. Maybe if we add this or subtract that… or what if….

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In truth, The Queen Mary has been suffering from a business identity crisis since her Long Beach inception. She was purchased for the purpose of “making her into something.” And nearly everyone that has had a hand in guiding her has adopted that same view. And therein lies the problem.

A look at her history reveals that this ship was born from a state of “in-betweens.” Literally. Conceptualized just prior to The Great Depression, Cunard was forced to ask the government for a loan in order to complete the as of yet unnamed project simply called “Hull 534.” But the government would grant that loan only if they merged with their chief competitor White Star who was also suffering financially. Both companies agreed and Cunard-White Star was born. The Queen Mary was their flagship.

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She spent her life between ports and purposes. When WWII began, she, along with her sister ship the Queen Elizabeth were both converted to troop ships. She was painted battleship grey and newly dubbed “The Grey Ghost.” When the war ended and her service was complete, she was restored as a luxury liner and continued her career of ferrying passengers to and from their destinations.

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This state of “in-between” did not end when she arrived at her final destination. As construction began, so did a battle over jobs between land-based and maritime unions. This resulted in a new classification for the ship as a “building.” And when she opened to the public she was not only meant to be a museum (Jacques Cousteau’s New Living Sea Museum) but a hotel.

The point is that the Queen Mary has never suffered from an identity ~crisis~. In fact, during this entire snafu, she is the ONLY thing that has maintained a clear identity! It is the job of her lessees and management to enhance that which she is, rather than to make her fit into some template of what they think she should be.

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Recently, there have been new developments regarding The Mary’s lease and, though many consider it naive, I have a good feeling about this. The lease has finally changed hands and with it, certain conditions will also change:

“Michael Conway, the city’s director of economic and property development, said one reason past plans were stymied was the lease didn’t allow for the land to be subdivided, preventing developers from getting financing to build individual projects.

“This will change in the new lease,” he said in an email.” [LA Times]

Granted, this has little to do with the pressing condition of the ship itself, but if they can alleviate the cost of the land to which she is now tethered, and make that acreage not only financially responsible for itself, but get it to generate income to help with the ship’s proper care, it will remove some of the burden of expectation from The Queen Mary and offer some much needed breathing room.

There has been a lot of talk about the plans for the land next to which the ship sits. Shops, theaters, entertainment, a boutique hotel and a giant ferris wheel have all been bandied about but nothing, as of yet, has been finalized. And I confess that as I read through the articles, though I know the project is in its infancy, I find I have a keen eye for worst case scenarios. After years of watching plans both good and ~horrifying~ fail (thank God for the latter) it is difficult to stay positive. But I have to go with my gut. And, quite honestly, we are already seeing some inspiring changes.

For all of you who would love to visit the ship but have found it, in the past, to be too expensive, there is now an excellent offering! For $25, you can purchase an annual pass and with it, is included, three hours of free parking per visit. (The free parking is particularly important. Though the City of Long Beach website says that parking for the ship is $15, the last time we visited it was actually $18 and they raise it for special events. This compares to Disneyland which is also currently at $18 and, while that is still a ridiculous price, you certainly get more bang for your buck. ~Sorry, QM~) Another very recent and much anticipated change is a new agreement for private group paranormal investigations. It might need some more ironing out in the future but it is a wonderful step in the right direction. Hopefully, these changes will herald more of their kind.

The ship has a long way to go before our faith in her custodianship can be fully restored. But, as a public who cares deeply for this landmark and important piece of history, it is our duty to do what is right for her. And right now, the right thing for HER is to stay positive, to risk the disappointment of being let down. Taking pride and ownership in her is a very wonderful and special thing, but when that pride becomes bitter entitlement, it is just as toxic as the organizations that run her into the ground while expecting her to turn a profit.

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Written by Heather of EVP!


Queen Mary Management To Showcase Bad Taste….Again.

 

“12:00 noon. I relieved Tommy as lookout on the quarter deck. He reported Queen Mary sighted with HMS “Curacaos” in the fare of her. What happened in the next few moments was too quick to be true. Unfortunately, it was true. I glanced and saw Q.M: and Curacao. They seemed ok from our position. Tommy and I put a cigarette in our mouths. I lit a match gave him a light, lighted my own, and looked astern. Queen Mary going strong at approx 20 knots, “Curacao” I could see no sign. I immediately contacted the bridge and reported “Curacao” had disappeared. From then on it was panic. Our ship turned about, asdis lamps flashing messages. We passed the Queen Mary. She was still making for homeport like a bad horse. We arrived at the last position where I had seen “Curacao.” What a terrible sight it was. The sea was covered in oil, dirty and black with hundreds of heads with oily faces and panicky white eyes, mouths opening and closing like fish, some shouting for their mothers and help, others just chocking with fuel oil in their lungs and dying from drowning. All good British lads, bobbing up and down. We picked as many as we could: 97 out of 650. The rest perished. On our way back to Ireland 5 out of the 97 we had saved from the sea died on board due to the fuel in their guts, all that destruction in the time it takes to light a cigarette.”[1]

Not all of us will be lucky enough to experience the brutal destruction of iron and steel or drowning in a slick of oil and debris in the middle of the ocean, but now, for a limited time only, YOU CAN! No longer will this privilege be reserved for wartime soldiers!

Yes folks! For the LOW LOW price of just $19.99 you can relive this actual World War II disaster in inglorious detail!

“I skipped Dark Harbor in 2011 because event organizers offered nothing new, recycling the exact same mazes and themes from the previous year.”[2]

The new haunted maze, Deadrise, takes visitors inside a World War II escort ship that helped guide the Queen Mary until she plowed right through it ripping it in half and leaving hundreds of men to die in her wake in 1942. Trapped in a watery grave, sailors still haunt the sunken escort ship. [3]

Just in time for Veterans Day!

Hurry! Tickets won’t last forever…just like the Curacao.

If you thought nothing could top a special effects Deadly D-Day Disaster Show, wait until you see all of those dead sailors dripping water and walking around with metal shards sticking out of their skulls. It’s WAY better. It’s just like being there!

That’s right folks! We’ve really pulled out all the stops! ~All~ of them. So come on down to the Queen Mary in Long Beach today and learn what it is to die like a hero!

Oh Evolution…what ARE we going to do with you? Once again, your desire to make more money and show you are the biggest, baddest management company to ever rule The Queen has succeeded in turning what once was the most luxurious ocean liner to cross the open seas into nothing more than a worn out home for circus acts and sideshow freaks.

I know that there is a large public contingency against both the “Ghosts and Legends Show” (offered daily) and the annual money-maker “Dark Harbor,” but that is, perhaps, material for another post. The point, which hopefully, I have already highlighted, is the bad taste required to theme a maze around an actual World War II disaster in which hundreds of men brutally lost their lives. They could have avoided the look of disgust by simply theming the maze as a shipwreck. It’s as if they hired a bunch of 14-year-old boys to create an event and simply let them run amok.

 “My family came over on the ship from Scotland. My family helped build the ship in Scotland. I have a lot of passion for protecting the ship.”

                                 ~Attractions Manager Andrew Mason~

But does that passion extend to protecting the reputation of the ship as both a historic and a financial entity? Instead of attracting and educating the consumer by offering innovative experiences regarding both her historic and modern significance, management plans events that repeatedly mar what is left of her original features thereby aiding the further deterioration of her public image. Disrespecting her history in such a blatant manner sends the message that the people who own her or who own her lease no longer see the value of what they have.

And while “Dark Harbor” and “Deadrise” are splashed in all their bloody glory across the front page of The Queen Mary website, a brief search of her links reveals their respect for the military during the remainder of the year.

PLAN YOUR MILITARY EVENT

“With the Queen Mary’s proud military service in World War II, it’s no surprise that the legendary ship has become a favorite amongst our brave men and women in uniform. Dubbed “The Grey Ghost” during her military service, the Queen Mary transported thousands of American troops and broke several speed records along the way. Today, the Queen Mary serves as a reminder of the Great War and a living tribute to those who fought to defend freedom and democracy throughout the years.The Queen Mary is the ideal venue for military reunions of any size.” [4

How ironic.

Unfortunately this type of contradiction is indicative of the ship’s upper level management. We saw the same behavior when they let stunt cyclists ride their bikes through the ship. The public roared, and what did management do? They threw their business partners under the bus by lying about how the stunts were never permitted.

Evolution Hospitality has a well-defined vision, a strong sense of values, and guiding principles, and a long-range, quality minded approach to business.

                               ~Evolution Hospitality LLC Website~

The company currently running the ship proudly touts its “servant leadership philosophy.”[5] But their focus on “revenue and sales”[6] is a very temporary fix to a 40-year-old problem; especially if they alienate the public in the process. From raising prices for parking and entrance fees with no warning and no added value, to theming tacky events on some of the darkest history The Queen Mary has ever seen, they continuously demonstrate their ethics with displays of spectacularly bad taste.

 


Respecting History?

It was recently brought to my attention that a historical location that is very near and dear to our organization is once again being mishandled by its management group.

The Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach as a “floating” hotel/ museum and is registered as both a historical site and a historical hotel:

National Historical Registry

RMS QUEEN MARY *** (added 1993 – – #92001714)

Also known as HMT QUEEN MARY

Pier J, 1126 Queensway Hwy. , Long Beach

Historic Significance: Event

Area of Significance: Military, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History

Period of Significance: 1925-1949

Owner: Local

Historic Function: Defense, Transportation

Historic Sub-function: Naval Facility, Water-Related

Current Function: Domestic, Recreation And Culture

Current Sub-function: Hotel, Museum

Here is the purpose of the National Historical Registry noted from their website:

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Queen Mary is also listed on the website of  Historic Hotels of America. This is what they have to say about the Queen Mary:

The Queen Mary

Los Angeles, California

Rich in history, The Queen Mary® is renowned as the grandest ocean liner ever built since her maiden voyage in 1936. These early years distinguished the majestic steamship as the only civilized way to travel for high society’s elite, and instantly drew the attention of celebrities like Fred Astaire, political figures like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, and dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

It is quite clear that our country on a whole recognizes the historical importance and significance of this grand ship.

So why is it so difficult for the ship’s current management to get with the program?

Time after time we’ve heard complaints that there is no money to restore her to her former glory. We’ve been told that making changes like including iPod docks in all of the staterooms is a valid way to stimulate the ship’s revenue. Some improvements have been made in the last fifteen years. A huge section of promenade decking was re-finished and replaced a few years ago by a former management company.

This ship is a virtual roller coaster of  management companies. Each one swears that it’s bigger, better, and more knowledgeable than it’s predecessor.

It’s ultimately assumed that everything the previous company did is wrong and that the new team must start over from scratch. The management companies they hire are only experienced in managing a hotel. The Queen Mary is much more than a hotel. It’s an experience. And the experience that the customer is getting leaves much to be desired.

If you come to the Queen Mary for the first time today, you will be disappointed. If you are planning to stay in a stateroom reminiscent of the opulent 30’s & 40’s you can lay that dream to rest. What you will find is  late 80’s decor covering up what’s left of the 1930’s interior: cheap carpet, ugly bedspreads, chintzy window treatments, along-side beautiful 1930’s fans that no longer work.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you roam the decks you’ll find sad displays haphazardly assembled with no regards for the integrity of the historical documents and artifacts inside. They are dusty, and often littered with rat fecal matter.

You will also find poor patch jobs in the ceiling where water damage occurs. The beautiful wood paneling which Winston Churchill himself told the soldiers during WWII mustn’t be touched is now showing the wear of its 76+ years at sea, and still awaiting restoration.

The Spa which inhabits some of the ship’s former suites has a decrepit & lackluster sign pointing the way to your “luxury” services.

If you overlook the staterooms and hallways and look instead towards the ship’s restaurants, I have some good news and some bad news. Sir Winston’s is the premiere restaurant on the ship…and for good reason. The restaurant manager J.B. is amazing. He’s been with the ship for over 10 years and truly understands how to accommodate his guests, giving them the grand reception that they would expect from a luxury liner. You will however, pay well for this privilege.

The other restaurants on the ship are poorly managed with mediocre food at best. Imagine a Denny’s ….in Compton…at midnight and you’ll begin to get a grasp for what they offer: over priced, over cooked, under whelming food. The service is slow and surly. The prices average  $15 per plate.  Oh, and by the way, if you thought you could just sit by the window while you sip your morning English Tea and pretend you’re in South Hampton, think again. The only tea you’ll find on this English ship is Lipton’s. The Duchess of Windsor is turning in her grave at this very moment.

The Queen Mary is also touted as a museum. It’s true. There are scattered exhibits (which are poorly maintained). But the guides really understand her history, architecture and art. They keep her spirit alive and are some of the nicest people I’ve met aboard the ship. They stay, not because of the great pay, nor do they stay to support her ever-changing management. They stay out of loyalty and love for this Grand Lady.

Now, so far this might just sound like another bitter yelp review(of which there are plenty). But, it was a recent find from a fellow investigator  that prompted this blog post.

In an attempt to draw in a bigger, more diverse audience and make some cold,hard cash the management has decided to let a team of motocross performers loose on the ship.

Yes , you heard me, ON THE SHIP.

This is wear I had posted a link to the YouTube video. It has since been made private.

This video demonstrates just how much these management companies understand about the property they are running.

After the video started receiving some unfavorable press there was a comment posted by one of the riders:

“All this was taken into consideration prior to filming. We worked long and hard with the Queen Mary to preserve the integrity of the ship. The locations that were used were places that had already been remodeled or altered. No historic or original locations were used. The idea was to make something cool to bring attention to such an awesome ship. There was no more harm than the average foot traffic from tourists”.

This is a still from the promo video showing the rider on the staircase of the first-class pool which is historical, original and is in serious need of repair.

If you know the ship at all, you understand that areas like the First Class Pool, the engine room, and boiler rooms are indeed original and historical areas. While they weren’t doing burn-outs on board, the weight and pressure of the bike is damaging and disrespectful. This isn’t the type of attention or the type of event that the ship needs . I don’t blame the riders. I blame the management for, once again, sending the wrong message to the public.

They need to restore the ship and teach the public how to appreciate her rich history. Instead, they throw money away on poorly thought out, poorly planned events which further her destruction. We should treat her as we would the White House, not treat her like a convention center filled with carnival acts. We should continue to view her as she was intended. She might not sail any longer but she could still offer people the experience of a lifetime.

It’s time for the company who manages her to show that they understand the difference between RENOVATION and RESTORATION.  She is an important part of history and instead of updating her, she needs to be brought back to life.

A friend recently posted this information for those of us who like to become more active in helping The Queen Mary:

If you want to voice your concerns and speak out about the horrible mistreatment of the Queen Mary, send an email or call the following:

Long Beach’s Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal – The Queen Mary is in her district (she is also counsel person for district 2), so she should be watching out for the damage being done to historic landmarks on 2 levels. She can be reached at district2@longbeach.gov,   Suja.Lowenthal@longbeach.gov,   ph:562-570-6684.

Mr. Milford Wayne Donaldson – Head of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  They can take a more active role in trying to stop the management where we can’t. You can read more about the SHPO and get further contact information here:http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21755,  mwdonaldson@parks.ca.gov,   ph: 916-445-7050.

If enough of us speak out and demand they do something, there is a good chance they will. Please spread this information to as many people you know and get them to write or call in too.