Eleven brothers traveled to Hornitos Lodge 98 to enjoy BBQ dinner, fellowship, and their Stated Meeting on Saturday August 13th. We were welcomed with a kind reception and nourishing meal by Worshipful Christopher Rucker and his officers pictured above (Thank you Ray Baker for the BBQ!). This was the second visit this year, and our Hornitos brethren were well impressed with the number attending. Only five chairs were vacant in the entire lodge – which is the smallest in physical size in all of California. In fact, a brother addressing the Worshipful Master from the sidelines will find the front half of his foot hanging over the edge of the step.
“The Hornitos Masonic Lodge is located in the historic town of Hornitos, which was once a gun-toting Wild West gold mining camp with a population topping 10,000. This town, with its population sign now reading 75, is an outstanding vision of history, where the Wells Fargo Stage opened their office and ran some shipments worth $40,000 in gold, and where Domenico Ghirardelli built his first store before moving to San Francisco and to ‘Chocolate Fame.’ ” – excerpted from the Hornitos Lodge 98 brochure.
The local watering hole, “Plaza Bar” aka “Manuela’s,” is the building neighboring the lodge. After the hour drive, it is a convenient place for refreshment with many historical features itself.
A first interesting point is their “On / Off Sale” license which allows patrons to take libations home – extremely rare in today’s world, but practical in the town’s antique past.
It was established by Carlos and Manuela Ortiz who came to California from Spain in early 1900’s.
The bar back of the Plaza Bar originally came from Germany by ship “around the horn” (around the tip of South America prior to the Panama Canal) to San Francisco in 1852. It was then transported by wagon to Virginia City, Nevada. When the mines in Virginia City were exhausted, the bar back was sold and shipped to Merced, California for its tenure in “Souza’s Place” for 46 years. After this period, it was sold and transported to Hornitos where it now has its home. The Plaza Bar building was constructed in 1852 with two foot thick adobe walls.