1050 Charter Oak
In 1878, John Ramos and Frank Sciaroni operated Napa Valley’s 2nd Sherry facility. Sciaroni’s Winery and Distillery dominated the intersection of Charter Oak and Main Street in the 1880’s. This square 2-story building of fieldstone is beautifully detailed with cut-stone quoins (masonry blocks at the corner of a wall), window and door trim. Note the semi-circular arched windows with radiating quoins on the first floor and plain cut-stone molding with corbels (a type of bracket used for structural support) on the second floor. The segmental-arched doorway indicates the extreme width of the walls. For many years, Sciaroni’s Sherry facility has been a popular space for restaurants. Charter Oak remains an unusually intact neighborhood of mid-19th-century cottages that reflect the character of this early neighborhood of St. Helena. The Charter Oak Restaurant now occupies the property.
1902 Train Wreck in St. Helena
“For the first time in the history of St. Helena the people have seen a train wrecked within the town limits and the trouble was all caused by a gentle milch cow having no grudge whatever at the Southern Pacific Company. Monday morning at 10:25, as the northbound passenger train was steaming into town, a cow, browsing behind a clump of trees and out of sight of the engineer, ran onto the track in front of the train. There was not time to stop, as the animal was only a few yards ahead of the train, so the engineer opened the throttle in hopes of increasing the speed to a rate sufficient to knock the cow off the track.” (St. Helena Star, Nov. 11, 1902). Unfortunately, the distance was too short and the cow was thrown under the train, eventually causing Engine #1309 to come off the track at the crossing of Charter Oak and land in the Sciaroni cellar yard, uprooting a tree, damaging the tender and mail car, and injuring several train employees. No passengers were hurt, nor did they even realize why the train had stopped or that the disaster had occurred. Notice Sciaroni’s Sherry Building in the back of the photo.