Santa Clara to Santa Cruz Great American Railroad Journeys


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Santa Clara to Santa Cruz

Michael Portillo's thousand-mile Californian rail journey continues. At tech giant Intel, Michael glimpses the future on a test drive in an autonomous car.


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LineFromTo

I have crossed the Atlantic to ride the railroads of North America,

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with my faithful Appleton's Guide.

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Published in the late 19th century,

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it will direct me to everything that's novel, beautiful,

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memorable and curious

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in the United States.

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Yee-ha!

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As I travel through this vast continent,

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I'll discover gold and silver,

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movies and microchips,

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oil and oranges,

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and learn how America's most famous railroad conquered

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the wild landscapes of the west.

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My journey through California now turns southwards.

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Railway tracks and telegraph lines were technologies that transformed

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society around the world,

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but their impact was greatest in California

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because it had been cut off from the rest of the United States.

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Suddenly, news became virtually instantaneous,

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and goods and people could arrive from the east in days

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rather than months.

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Today's transformative technologies include the microchip,

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e-mail and mobile-phone-based apps,

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and many of the breakthroughs have come from California,

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from Silicon Valley.

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I'm making a 1000-mile railway

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journey from Reno, Nevada

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to San Diego

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in southern California.

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This leg begins just south of San Francisco in Silicon Valley,

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from where I'll use some of California's

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most picturesque rail lines to return to the Pacific Coast.

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Along the way, my head will grapple with

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California's Japanese heritage...

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GRUNTING

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Oh!

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It's a very odd feeling, being hit on the head repeatedly!

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TRAIN WHISTLES

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I'll marvel at the world's tallest trees...

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People come from all over the world to enjoy these trees.

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To see them from the train, Phil, is special.

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..and face total wipe-out.

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WHISTLING

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I'm now riding Amtrak's Capitol Corridor service,

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a railroad that runs 170 miles through northern California,

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from Auburn down to San Jose.

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Appleton's tells me that the Santa Clara Valley lies between

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the coast and the Santa Cruz mountains.

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It is watered by the Coyote and Guadalupe rivers,

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and by artesian wells,

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and claims to be the most fertile in the world.

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I'm leaving the train at Santa Clara,

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in the heart of what's now known as Silicon Valley.

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To trace the evolution of this area from farmland to the powerhouse of

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the digital revolution,

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I've come to a hi-tech hotel bar beyond the wildest dreams

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of Appleton's readers.

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-Hello, Justin.

-Hey! How are you doing?

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I'm meeting Justin Kuykendall,

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from the Silicon Valley Historical Association,

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with novel waiting staff in attendance.

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Well, I never! What is this?

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ROBOT WHIRS

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Hello.

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"I'm running a delivery," it says.

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ROBOT CHIMES, MICHAEL LAUGHS

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"Hello, Michael and Justin, please remove your items."

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Oh!

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There's one for you, Justin.

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Thank you.

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And one for me.

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Oh! Thank you very much indeed.

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ROBOT CHIMES

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How far back do you trace the connection between the valley

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and the development of technology,

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what we now think of IT, information technology?

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Sure, sure. Um...

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I think it's really starts with the university -

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you know, the starting of Stanford.

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My Appleton's Guide, written in 1891, says,

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"Senator Leland Stanford's great Palo Alto ranch

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"is the site of the Leland Stanford Junior University, founded in 1885."

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Well, it started as a ranch,

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but then, you know, he created a university,

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you know, after the death of his son.

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He had a vision that, you know,

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his son came to him and that he was supposed to have a university,

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so that's really where the university idea came,

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and that would be the education for this...California

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and the students of California.

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Railroad baron Leland Stanford had helped to build the trailblazing

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Transcontinental Route in the 1860s.

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By the mid-20th century,

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the university that he had founded was helping to ferment a new

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technological revolution.

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Technology start-ups arrived,

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encouraged by Stanford engineering professor Frederick Terman,

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who established an industrial park on the campus.

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The Santa Clara Valley became a hi-tech hub,

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producing silicon semiconductors, which form part of the chips

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that are the brains of our modern electronic devices.

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Why does Silicon Valley work?

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You have the university, you have this semi-conductor industry,

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you have great weather,

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and you also have, kind of, that western entrepreneurial

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idea of, you know, pioneering.

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Something really... We want to do something new.

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We want to do something that's cool. We want to change the world.

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In the 21st century,

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Silicon Valley is synonymous with the disruptive technologies of the

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internet age, from search engines to social networks -

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now its innovators want to change the way we travel.

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At Intel, which pioneered the microchip back in the 1960s,

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engineers are giving cars

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the data processing power

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to drive themselves.

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I'm joining Grant Mahler on a test drive.

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Hi, Grant. I'm Michael.

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Nice to meet you, Michael.

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The project is a collaboration with BMW and Mobileye,

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a sensor and mapping company.

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In the back is Carl,

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whose computer is tracking what the car is seeing.

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As we hit the freeway, we're about to go into autonomous drive.

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Grant, I have to tell you, this is a very exciting moment for me.

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I have never been in this situation,

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and, for me, it is a glimpse of the future.

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Grant, what's happening now?

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The car is steering itself.

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It has taken over from you?

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Correct.

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Right now the car is making the adjustments to speed,

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to direction and so on?

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Correct.

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Amazing, for me, for the first time, to experience autonomous driving.

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This is going to change our way of living -

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whether you need to own a car, whether you need a driving licence,

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how many cars we need on the roads,

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whether people are going to live longer

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because they don't die in motor accidents.

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It's an absolutely transformative technology.

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In the here and now, I'm reverting to a form of transport

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readers of my guidebook would have recognised.

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Appleton's tells me that one of the excursions most frequently

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recommended to the stranger is that to San Jose.

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Having reached this outpost of the American Far West,

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I want to consider a community that came from across the Pacific to the

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Far East, and which at one time had the misfortune to be regarded as

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an enemy of the United States.

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This is San Jose, our final stop. This is San Jose.

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Today, San Jose is Silicon Valley's biggest city

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and one of the most affluent places in the United States.

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A couple of miles north of the station

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is the Japanese quarter, or Nihonmachi.

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At the Buddhist church founded by some of the city's

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earliest Japanese immigrants,

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I'm meeting Jim Nagareda of San Jose's Japanese-American Museum.

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Jim, I'm Michael.

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Hey, Michael.

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Good to see you.

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-Lovely temple. Beautiful.

-Thank you.

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What is the origin of the Japanese community in the San Jose area?

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The Japanese started coming to this area in the late 1800s,

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and they came here looking for jobs in agriculture,

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and most of the Japanese intended on going back -

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you know, making their money and going back to Japan -

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but a lot of them stayed and formed this great community.

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By 1940, California was home to three quarters of

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the Japanese population of the United States,

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but within two years, the growth of Japantown came to a stop

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when Japan attacked America.

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Tell me about the impact on the community of

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December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor.

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After the bombing,

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they knew that there was going to be some type of backlash.

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They burned all of their family photos cos they wanted to disconnect

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themselves with anything from Japan,

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along with a lot of their other possessions.

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When they actually had to go to, actually, incarceration camps,

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they could only take what they could carry.

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In May, 1942, across the United States,

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people of Japanese descent were interned in camps.

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Most of San Jose's Japantown residents were sent

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1,000 miles away to Wyoming.

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They would not return for three years.

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And they ceased to be US citizens.

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Basically, their rights were taken away.

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They said that the camps were for their protection,

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yet the guns were pointed inward.

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How easily could they reintegrate after 1945?

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It was not easy for them.

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A lot of people lost their property and lost their businesses,

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lost their homes,

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and so they had to rebuild.

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GONG CHIMES

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GONG CHIMES

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MAN SINGS IN OWN LANGUAGE

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SINGING CONTINUES

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GONG CHIME

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Today, Japantown is thriving once more,

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and its residents are passing on their traditions

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to the next generation.

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DRUMMING

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THEY YELL

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SHOUTING

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DRUMBEAT SPEEDS UP

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THEY YELL

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SHOUTING

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THEY CONTINUE YELLING Extraordinary sight.

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In Japantown, just next to the temple, is this gymnasium,

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and these youngsters, male and female,

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are learning kendo, a martial art,

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which I suppose tells us the strength of the Japanese community.

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THEY YELL

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Instructor Dale Hatakeyama is initiating me

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in the art of Japanese fencing.

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Dale, sorry, sir, may I interrupt you a moment?

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-I'm Michael. Hi.

-Nice to meet you, Michael.

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-And this is kendo?

-This is kendo.

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We teach the Japanese culture, as far as respect,

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perseverance and carrying yourself with dignity.

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So, it's not about only about fighting each other,

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but it's also about trying to make yourself a better person.

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Would it be crazy if I attempted to have a go?

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Certainly, if you wanted.

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First, a traditional Japanese costume and some body armour.

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Arggh! Quite tight.

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-I'm in.

-You're in?

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My opponent is less than a third of my age,

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and I think has been doing this forever.

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Not that I'm intimidated. No, no, no.

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The way you swing this is you push it up with your left hand,

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and over your head, straight over your head,

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and then you swing it down and take a step forward

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and you're going to hit him right here.

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-Really?

-Yes, yes.

-And I won't hurt him?

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I hope not. Hit the top of his head and say, "men" at the same time.

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The sword is made of bamboo.

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Men! Men!

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Points are scored for striking parts of the body.

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-Men!

-Nice, nice.

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"Men" means face.

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Men!

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-We'll change roles now, so...

-OK.

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Men! Men!

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Oh!

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Men, men, men!

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Oh!

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It's a fairly odd feeling, being hit on the head repeatedly.

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"Do" is called for a cut to the chest.

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Do!

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It's better than being hit on the head.

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Men, men, men!

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He's very good.

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MICHAEL CACKLES

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Dale, I think I've had enough.

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I'm sorry I haven't been a great success.

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-Thank you, sir.

-Thank you so much.

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I'm continuing my journey from Felton

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in the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains.

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My guidebook promises a grove of mammoth trees in the vicinity.

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How better to experience California's iconic redwoods

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than from the footplate of a steam engine?

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TRAIN WHISTLES

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ENGINE RUMBLES

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And with that, our magnificent locomotive is underway.

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The three-mile Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad

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was built in the 1960s.

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Now heritage locomotives haul tourist trains

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past some of California's oldest and most majestic trees.

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This train affords a terrific opportunity

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to see the redwood grove -

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because, of course, you're going a bit faster than walking pace,

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you're able to cover so much of the terrain.

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A certain irony, seeing the forest from the train because, after all,

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the demand of the railroad for timber was enormous,

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partly to fuel the early locomotives,

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and partly for sleepers, what the Americans call ties.

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The bits of wood on which the track rides.

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We're on narrow-gauge,

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and it looks like we've got some quite steep gradients

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and quite tight curves.

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Yes, Roaring Camp has probably got the steepest grades and

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sharpest curves on any narrow-gauge railroad in North America.

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STEAM HISSES

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When they designed the railroad, they didn't want to take trees out

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so they went around them.

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That's a lovely thought, isn't it?

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-A railroad built around the tree trunks.

-That's right.

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People would come from all over the world to enjoy these trees.

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I mean, to see them from the train, Phil, is special.

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Oh, it really is. I never tire of the view.

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TRAIN WHISTLES

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TRAIN WHISTLES

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Although the narrow-gauge railroad is relatively modern,

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tourists have been coming by train to marvel at the redwoods

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since the days of my Appleton's Guide.

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The trees rise above me on all sides,

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like the columns of a giant cathedral,

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although probably taller than any cathedral I've seen,

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and here below it is quite dark,

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and you look up and you see the light filtered through the canopy.

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Ranger Steven Elmore is going to tell me more about

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the tallest trees on Earth.

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Steven, these magnificent coastal redwoods, how tall do they grow?

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They can actually get well over 300 feet.

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I assume, then, the coastal redwoods are native to

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the west coast of the United States.

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Yes, that's the only place where they're found naturally.

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They have to live on the coast because one of their additional

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sources of water is actually the fog.

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Because of the design of the needles, it will allow the water

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to drip down onto their roots,

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as well as actually absorb water from the fog itself.

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The United States is infamous for its forest fires.

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How have the redwoods survived that?

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Well, these trees have actually adapted to live with fires.

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There's actually tannic acid in this bark here,

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and that actually manages to protect the tree from the fire.

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So, even the though they'll get scorched and burned,

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most of the time they'll actually survive.

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Coast redwoods can live for over 1,500 years,

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but in post-gold-rush California,

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many were lost to the logging industry.

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How has this grove managed to survive man,

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and the sort of vandalism of the 19th century?

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Well, it didn't happen by accident.

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Joseph Welch was the man who owned this particular part of the land,

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and he actually decided that he could make more money selling

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pictures of these magnificent trees, rather than cutting down the wood

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for other purposes.

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So, he built a railway station and a hotel and a dance floor

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and things like that, and kind of turned it into, basically, a resort.

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Profit was his motive,

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but when Welch bought this 40-acre grove of virgin redwoods in 1867,

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he saved it from the loggers.

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Just three years before,

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President Lincoln had created the United States' first-ever

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publicly protected area of wilderness in the Yosemite Valley.

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19th-century Californians were beginning to realise the value of

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their natural wonders.

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Back on the rails, I'm taking another tourist train,

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travelling south.

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This line follows the route of the Santa Cruz and Felton Railroad,

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a narrow-gauge line which opened in 1875.

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My destination is Santa Cruz,

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which Appleton's tells me is attractively situated

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on the north side of Monterey Bay,

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and is one of the principle watering places of California.

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This train is actually going to take me down to the boardwalk.

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-Hello!

-Hello.

-Hello. How are you?

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How are you enjoying your train ride today?

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-Loving it!

-It's very nice.

-Yeah?

-Very good, yeah.

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-What are you loving?

-So, I've never done this before,

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but I love being in the mountains, so I love, like, all the redwoods.

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I'm going down to Santa Cruz now to try my hand at some surfing.

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-Whoa!

-Yeah? Oh, are you really? Wow.

0:22:370:22:39

Have you surfed?

0:22:390:22:41

-He has!

-I've tried it once. Yeah.

0:22:410:22:43

I've been in Pacifica.

0:22:430:22:45

-It's cold!

-Wear a wet suit!

0:22:450:22:47

Now, how come you've only done it once?

0:22:470:22:49

I thought Californians lived on surfboards!

0:22:490:22:51

Just because it's too cold.

0:22:510:22:52

-HORN HONKS

-Not to scare you, but...

0:22:520:22:56

Well, actually, I think you have scared me a bit.

0:22:560:22:58

-Oh, no!

-But never mind.

0:22:580:23:00

And now, as the Americans would say,

0:23:060:23:08

one of the darnedest things you will ever see,

0:23:080:23:11

the train actually goes down the middle of a street,

0:23:110:23:14

and there are houses on either side.

0:23:140:23:16

HORN HONKS, BELL CHIMES

0:23:180:23:20

In the 19th century, tourists flocked to Santa Cruz's beaches,

0:23:270:23:32

and in 1907, an amusement park opened, offering thrills and spills.

0:23:320:23:37

THEY SCREAM

0:23:370:23:39

But, these days, adrenaline junkies are just as likely to be

0:23:520:23:56

found on the waves.

0:23:560:23:58

Santa Cruz was the birthplace of surfing on the US mainland.

0:24:020:24:07

Instructor Ed Guzman is sharing the story.

0:24:070:24:10

-Hello, Ed, I'm Michael.

-Hey, Michael. Nice meeting you.

0:24:120:24:15

Oh, and a lovely spot as well.

0:24:150:24:16

-And I see there are some surfers out there, right now.

-Yeah.

0:24:160:24:19

Ed, how does surfing come to Northern California?

0:24:190:24:22

Well, there were three princes in 1887 from Hawaii.

0:24:220:24:26

They were going to college at Santa Clara University

0:24:260:24:28

and they came over to Santa Cruz for a little vacation,

0:24:280:24:32

and they saw these perfect waves peeling

0:24:320:24:34

at the San Lorenzo River-mouth,

0:24:340:24:36

right in front of the boardwalk,

0:24:360:24:38

and they shaped some boards out of the redwood trees,

0:24:380:24:41

and took them out into the ocean at the San Lorenzo River-mouth

0:24:410:24:44

and rode waves and made history.

0:24:440:24:46

Surfing is an important part of traditional Hawaiian culture,

0:24:460:24:50

but Californians have made it their own.

0:24:500:24:53

How quickly do you think that then caught on in California?

0:24:530:24:56

It wasn't really until the '30s that surfing started becoming

0:24:560:25:00

a little bit popular, and, by the '60s, it exploded.

0:25:000:25:04

How much experience do you need to go out there?

0:25:040:25:07

None. I can take you out on the first time, never surfed,

0:25:070:25:11

never seen the ocean, and get you up on a board.

0:25:110:25:13

Well, I am exactly in that category. ED LAUGHS

0:25:130:25:15

But when you say "get me up on a board",

0:25:150:25:16

you'll never get me to stand up on a board.

0:25:160:25:18

If... If you fight it, yes, that's true.

0:25:180:25:21

But if you go with me and you believe that you can

0:25:210:25:23

and you, kind of, open up your mind a little bit,

0:25:230:25:25

I can get you on your feet and riding.

0:25:250:25:27

-Quite a challenge.

-Yeah. Well, let's go for it.

0:25:270:25:30

Hands go low, to the base of your ribs.

0:25:400:25:42

Slide up in one smooth motion if you can,

0:25:440:25:48

and drop your hands to your chest and stand up.

0:25:480:25:50

Yeah, stay low. Excellent!

0:25:510:25:54

ED WHISTLES

0:26:120:26:14

Yay!

0:26:180:26:19

ED WHISTLES

0:26:430:26:45

From sparkling Pacific waters to towering redwood trees,

0:26:530:26:58

I've discovered a state of dazzling natural resources.

0:26:580:27:02

The United States wanted gold-rich California to be joined to it

0:27:070:27:11

politically as a new state in 1850,

0:27:110:27:15

and Californians needed to be linked physically by the completion of the

0:27:150:27:19

Transcontinental Railroad.

0:27:190:27:22

Neither party could foresee what would happen.

0:27:220:27:25

The California economy is easily the biggest in the United States,

0:27:250:27:29

eclipsing Texas and New York.

0:27:290:27:33

Indeed, if it were a country, only America itself, China,

0:27:330:27:37

Japan and Germany would be significantly bigger.

0:27:370:27:41

The power of Californians' imagination and the vigour of

0:27:410:27:46

their enterprise have astonished the world,

0:27:460:27:49

and indeed shaped it.

0:27:490:27:51

Next time, I'll explore a millionaire's mansion...

0:28:020:28:05

We had the largest media empire in the United States

0:28:050:28:09

in the mid-20th century.

0:28:090:28:10

..learn the secrets of the perfect guacamole...

0:28:100:28:13

You want to... You want to just give it a little twist.

0:28:130:28:15

Ah! I never knew that.

0:28:150:28:18

..and discover a tragic American love story.

0:28:180:28:20

It's like Romeo and Juliet,

0:28:200:28:22

if they live in southern California in the 1860s.

0:28:220:28:25

Michael Portillo's thousand-mile rail journey through California continues south toward Santa Clara in the heart of Silicon Valley and ends in the surf of Santa Cruz. In a high-tech bar, where robots wait on the customers, Michael traces the origins of modern-day search engines and social media to an institution founded by a railroad baron. At tech giant Intel, Michael glimpses the future on a test drive in an autonomous car.

At San Jose, the biggest city in the valley, Michael visits Japantown to meet members of a far eastern community who settled here peacefully during the 19th century but faced hostility during the mid-20th. He is then beaten over the head and body by youngsters a third of his age as he attempts to learn the martial art of kendo. A ride aboard the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad takes Michael through groves of mammoth trees - the magnificent California Redwoods. Emerging from the forest on a second vintage railroad, Michael hits the beach and like a true beach boy, he takes to the waves - on a surfboard.