How the West Was Fun

Courtesy E. Clampus Vitus

Like any historical society, E. Clampus Vitus puts up brass markers to commemorate bygone days. But ECV is to heritage organizations what the LSJUMB is to university bands. No demure tea parties or sedate walking tours for these folks: they dress up in Gold Rush duds and party hard, in keeping with their own 1850s roots as a miners' social and benevolent club. The Wild West being what it was, ECV's 40-plus chapters memorialize everything from boneyards to bell towers, varmints to visionaries.

In June, the society honored Leland Stanford, erecting a plaque in Sutter Creek, Calif., near the Lincoln-Union mine he owned. The marker notes the University founder's contributions to both Sutter Creek and California. Of course, it was the Gold Rush that drew the Stanfords west in 1852, and the rest, well, goes without saying.