Sierra On-Line Memories
Sierra On-Line Memories was a 5-day oral history adventure executed on the fly, with help from my old friend and fellow historian, Natalie Schiedler. The experience brought me not only into people's homes, but up close with the emotional and architectural remains of Oakhurst's once landmark hometown computer game company: Sierra On-Line.
A historic computer game company of the late 20th century, Sierra On-Line is the subject of my current book project, and writing its history means more than playing the games and reading reviews. Sierra's local labor history still stands ground in this small town just 30 minutes southwest of Yosemite National Park.
With the help of the local press, the Sierra Historic Sites Association, and strong word of mouth, I acquired 19 hours of interviews with 10 ex-employees--just a third of the people who reached out to me during the trip. I participated in Heritage Days, Oakhurst's annual heritage parade and festival, explored the basement of Sierra On-Line's old local printer, visited the burnt remains of an Sierra's old INN office building, and slept over at 36575 Mudge Ranch Road--the house were Sierra's co-founders Ken and Roberta Williams first ran their company.
This kind of historical field work is the foundation of my process. Developing a personal relationship to the land and the people helps me understand the very human stakes of this company's unique history. I've written about an earlier visit to Oakhurst on my blog.