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Stories from the valley

The Other Side of the Buttes

Contributed by Steve Beckley

The Sutter Buttes are a special place for residents of the Sacramento Valley.  My late father Ralph said, “If you can see the Buttes, you are home!”  According to California State Park information, the Maidu Indians called them “Histum Yani” which translates as, “Middle Mountains of the Valley” or “Spirit Mountain.”

Being a native of Grimes, my view of these mountains is usually from the south side, including drives on Pass Road through the Buttes.  But every once in while, I like to check out the north side, so my wife, Stephanie, and I went up to Live Oak and headed west on Pennington Road.

Our first stop was the Pennington area, which in 1961 – 1965, housed a Titian Missile complex, part of 851st Strategic Missile Squadron based out of Beale Air Force Base east of Marysville.  Complexes were also located in the Chico and Lincoln area.   Titan 1 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were supposed to help end the Cold War.  As a teenager growing up in the area, I thought a big target was put on us if the bad guys started firing missiles.  The property on which the complex was located is private, but it’s a reminder of the role the area played in our country’s defense.

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Next stop was Cordi Winery, Sutter County’s only winery, operated by Reece and Theresa Cordi.   There was a craft faire going on and a lot of folks were stopping in to taste some great wine.  I enjoy looking at the vineyards as they are right at the base of the Buttes.

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Following a glass of wine, we went over to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area operated by the  California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  I really enjoy my visits here as it offers great views of the Buttes and imagine this is the way the Sacramento Valley looked many years ago.  Tgraere’s a 3.5-mile auto loop and also hiking trails which allow you to view the wildlife.

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A stop on the way back to watch the sunset behind the Sutter Buttes completed a great day on the other side.  Please respect private property in the area and if you’re interested in hiking the Buttes go to Middle Mountain Interpretive Hikes.