For the history buff, it’s incredibly fun to live in Auburn. I’ve been reading a number of books with wonderful old photographs about the history of our town. Here’s what I’ve discovered. We have a fascinating story to tell. Anyone who walks in Old Town, Downtown, the neighborhoods and on the trails in the American River Canyon will see not only the historic evolution of a small town but the unfolding of the larger and dynamic story of California.

Everywhere we look — historic buildings and markers, public art, street names, and museums — we see evidence of California’s development, particularly from Claude Chana’s discovery of gold in 1848 in the Auburn Ravine to the 1950s. We can see displays of the Native American culture and Chinese immigration. Stage couches heists happened at Robbers’ Roost. We have the oldest operating Post Office in California and the oldest volunteer fire department west of the Mississippi. We even have links to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, who was the Native American guide for the expedition, worked at the New Orleans Hotel in Old Town in the 1860s. A decision by the Southern Pacific Railroad to lay its track to the east of Old Town created “East Auburn,” what we now call Downtown Auburn. John Philip Sousa’s Band played at the Opera House in 1907. President Theodore Roosevelt made a campaign stop in Auburn via the railroad. The Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast highway, runs through our town. Camp Flint in Auburn helped to win World War II. Hollywood has come to town to film movies like “Phenomenon” and “Overboard.” The Tevis Cup Ride and the Western States Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn have made our town the “Endurance Capital of the World.” The stories go on and on.

And yet, the tourist guidebooks treat Auburn as a mere pit stop and say almost nothing about our fascinating story. Working together, we have got to change this. Currently, there is an excellent discussion taking place among business owners, civic leaders and residents about how to better market Auburn to boost our local economy. The “Think Auburn First” marketing campaign, which is designed to convince Auburn area residents to purchase local products and services and thereby help keep jobs and tax dollars in our economy, has begun and is pickup up momentum. Business owners in Old Town and Downtown and representatives on the city’s Economic Development Commission are working on pooling their resources to jointly market our town to residents and the tens of thousands of people who drive up and down I-80 every day. We are uniquely positioned to market the uniqueness of Auburn at the same time as marketing it as a way to learn about the exciting story of California. We should be telling our attractive story through every communication means, including the Internet and the Blackberry. Our decisions about public art and Streetscape construction should be geared toward better telling our story. This is a great opportunity. Business owners, city leaders and residents should work together and develop a comprehensive “Marketing and Economic Development Plan for Auburn” that tells our story and the story of California.