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New book presents portrait of Woodland history

From left, Thomas Krabacher, Robin Datel and Dennis Dingemans, geographers and local historians, are pictured at the grand entrance to Woodland's Beamer Park neighborhood. They'll talk about their new book, "Woodland," published by Arcadia Press, and sign copies from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hattie Weber Museum, 445 C St. in downtown Davis. Courtesy photo

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From page A3 | January 20, 2012 |

A new photo-centric book on the history of Woodland tells not only the story of a city, but also of the surrounding area through the eyes and photos of local residents.

“Images of America: Woodland,” written and compiled by local geographers and history buffs Robin Datel, Dennis Dingemans and Thomas Krabacher, is a collection of historic images of Woodland’s past. The photos, which span from roughly 1860 to 1960, come from both public archives and the private collections of local families and organizations.

The book looks at Woodland through both a geographic and historic lens, a perspective due in no small part to its authors. The trio of geographers liked the idea of focusing on connections and how the surrounding region influences a city and vice versa.

“I think as geographers we were predisposed to like the connections theme — that a place comes to be not in isolation but because of its connections,” Datel said.

“Woodland” chronicles moments in the city’s past, from the historical to the whimsical. The book also has its share of more lighthearted photos, such as pictures of the Yolo County “food fort,” a World War I-era display celebrating local agriculture.

Dingemans noted that in its early years, Woodland was blessed with a community of great photographers who documented the town. In the 1940s, the Woodland Camera Forum, a collection of local amateur photographers, began a project to take photos of local historical resources and buildings to preserve them for future generations, a goal the authors share.

“People drive by these old decaying buildings and just pay no attention to them day after day,” Datel said.  “But when you take a photo and put it in a frame or a book, it draws people’s attention to them and they begin to ask questions and become concerned about (these landmarks) and start taking care of them.”

Families often have old photos that date back generations tucked away in photo albums, noted the authors, and they hope that “Woodland” will encourage people to share these photos and become more involved in the preservation of local history.

“We knew there was buried treasure out there, but we definitely didn’t uncover all of it,” Dingemans said.

The authors will be at the Hattie Weber Museum, 445 C St. in Central Park, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday with copies of the book for sale. Next week, they will give a presentation on a selection of photos from the book at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in downtown Davis.

— Enterprise correspondent Ruth Krabacher is the daughter of “Woodland” co-author Thomas Krabacher.

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