by Tage Hansen
Sierra City – It all started with a married couple, Tage and Birte Hansen, emigrating from Denmark in 1954 to New York, each getting a good job, and living the good life for one year. After that they crossed the United States on a six week car ride and ended up in San Francisco in May of 1955.
Falling in love with San Francisco resulted in each getting a good job and again living the good life for seven years. Weekends and vacations were often spent in the Sierra Nevada mountains which fascinated us when comparing to Denmark, where the highest point is about 600 feet. We were dreaming about a mountain cabin.
After spending Christmas 1959 in San Francisco, we drove up Highway 49 and arrived in Sierra City New Years Eve with snow and ice. We decided to spend New Years Eve there and rented a small cabin at Pense Motel. We celebrated the best New Years Eve in the Sierra Buttes Hotel, at that time owned by Doug and Edie. Waking up New Year’s Day we that Sierra City could be the best place for our dream mountain cabin.
We rang the doorbell at the Buckhorn Lodge and asked owner Dick Lewis about buying property. He suggested we go to the old Wells Fargo building and talk to Mrs. Inez Winstead, because she owned most of the mountain above Sierra City.
Inez greeted us with a smile and said she would gladly sell us property on the mountain for nine cents a square foot, and we could select whatever there was available provided we took care of the paperwork and pay her $20 a month with no interest until paid in full.
I hired a land surveyor in Downieville named Schneider to survey and draw up the necessary papers for 2 lots each about 100′ x 100′ off Sacred Mound Road. I took his papers to the District Attorney, Gordon Smith, to draw up the deeds based on the purchase agreement.Smith told that nobody could buy property on time under those conditions, and drawing up the two deeds was a waste of time. He did after I begged him and Inez signed them both. We made our monthly payments until paid in full and started construction in 1966.
Meanwhile we were living in the Marina District in San Francisco with our four and two year old daughters. One Sunday morning in July of 1962 we drove to Marin County toward Fairfax to look at models of mountain cabins. We turned off in Mill Valley and saw a large house for sale and we decided to see how the rich people live.
The realtor looked at us with our two daughters and said that before looking at a mountain cabin model we needed a permanent home in which to raise our kids. He told us to stop by a home on Chapman Drive in Corte Madera and look at a house for sale. We did and fell in love with it and are still living there to this day.
The asking price was $22,000. I offered $20,000 with the condition of a FHA loan and $1,500 in down payment and they agreed. We moved in August 1, 1962 and put the mountain cabin on hold until early Spring of 1966,
Being an electrical engineer with no experience in building work, I relied on advice from people who had and designed a two story A-Frame and built it myself with help from my wife, Birte, pushing 1/2″ galvanized bolts through bored holes in the structure consisting of 2×8, 2×10, 2×12 and 4×8 members. The roof is 2×6 tongue and groove, plus 2″ insulation and brown aluminum roofing installed by Cy Rollins. The floors are 1 1/8″ plywood spanning 4 feet. I did all the interior electrical and plumbing myself. We later added a master bedroom and bath. We added a 20′ x 20′ two story building in front of the A-Frame with a 2 car garage and guest room above. Those additions were done with the help of my daughters and their boyfriends. The sheet rock and concrete part of the building was done by contractors.
We get our water from a 4″ privately owned water main running at the east side of our property, Mrs. Veal, the owner allowed me to connect to the pipe and recommended Ed Moon to make the connection, including a main shut off valve. The local plumber Otto Olsen installed the service pipe to the cabin. The total yearly cost for unmetered water was $15.
During construction I decided to become a registered voter in Sierra County. I called Mrs. Peterman and explained that we have two homes on in Marin County and one in Sierra County and I would like to vote in Sierra County while my wife votes in Marin, and Mrs. Peterman took care of it.
During the following years I received numerous jury duty requests in my PO Box in Sierra City but disregarded them. One day in the Court House I ran into the lady in charge and she read me the riot act and insisted I had to serve despite a two hundred mile commute. What a shocker. When I called her from home later, she asked my age and when I said 71, she said that was old enough to be excused.
At that time a 2/3 acre lot next to our north property line became for sale. I called the owner, who I knew had paid nine cents a square foot and offered him eighteen cents paid in full and he took it. In recent years we added a spa and had Barney Bozik cover all exterior wooden decks with “Universal Protective Coating” eliminating all routine maintenance.
In the early nineties all streets, roads, alleys etc were required to have names, and all structures along them had to be numbered. I called Liz Fisher, 9-1-1 Coordinator in charge of the Addressing Project for Sierra County, and asked her if they had named the short road separating the two 10,000 sq ft lots off of Sacred Mound Road. She said no, so I suggested my last name “Hansen”, and she agreed if no objections frou our neighbors. I ordered the sign in accordance with County specifications and installed it. I could choose between Lane or Court (but not Boulevard) so I chose Hansen Lane. We followed by a photo celebration with our daughters, sons-in-law and at that time three grand children, photos by Dee Wallace.
My other dealings with the County consisted of submitting drawings for building permits and call for inspections. I do not recall the name of the person in charge of building permits in the sixties but later it was Carroll Hayes. When I told my neighbors that I submitted drawings for a building permit and paid $26, they laughed.