yellow pages news jobs events calendar movie times
Rocklin and Roseville Today Events Calendar
    (Independent and Locally Owned)

Whitney Ranch (1 of 3)

hist9.jpgIn 1854, Boston businessman George Whitney visited San Francisco to see the four oldest of his six sons. The four had come to California individually at various times during the Gold Rush and profited nicely as merchants, mainly by importing scarce goods from the East Coast and selling them at high prices to miners and others connected with the gold rush.

George saw a commercial opportunity when his sons called his attention to the poor quality of California wool and the premiums that Californians were willing to pay for high quality wool imported from Australia. So George consulted with William Wells Hollister who ran Saxony sheep on 150,000 acres near his namesake town in San Benito County. On Hollisterís advice George decided to import Spanish Merino sheep from Australia and crossbreed them with some of Hollisterís Saxonies to get a finer, heavier fleece.

 Georgeís sons decided to join the enterprise and in 1855 or early 1856 Georgeís oldest son George Whitney Jr., headed for Australia to buy the Merinos.   

The youngest of the four sons, Joel Parker Whitney, known as Parker then, told his father of the beauty and good agricultural potential of an area in South Placer County that he had passed on his way to a short stint laboring in the Auburn gold mines when he had first arrived in California in 1852 at age 17. In 1856, George Jr. returned from Australia with 120 Merino ewes and the Whitneys hired a herder to run them with a few of Hollisterís Saxony bucks on open rangeland near the place that Parker had identified.

 George Jr. died shortly thereafter, possibly from the rigors of traversing 7,500 miles of ocean while tending a flock of sheep.

The crossbreeding project was successful and the Whitney wool was in high demand. So George decided to give the operation permanence.  In 1857 he established a sheep ranch with the purchase of 320 acres in the midst of thousands of acres of unoccupied Placer County land. That purchase, which became known as The Whitney Ranch, was a few miles west of a granite quarrying community that later would supply stone for the transcontinental railroad and become a passenger stop which the railroad would name Rocklin, California in 1864. 

George and his sons started adding pasture to the ranch in 1860 and continued to expand with several purchases throughout the decade. For land that they bought from private individuals, the federal government and the railroad they paid from ninety cents to 2 dollars per acre. As they continued to expand they recruited outsiders as homesteaders and after a few years bought out the homesteads for up to 5 dollars per acre.

 But homesteader O.T. Brown refused to sell. He owned the horseshoe shaped valley near the middle of the ranch called Brownís Valley, the site of the todayís Whitney Oaks Golf Course and the surrounding homes. So the Whitneys leased Brownís Valley for 25 dollars per month. There might have been an unrecorded agreement between Brown and the Whitneys because when Brown died in 1901 he had bequeathed the valley to Parker and it became part of the ranch.

 Even though Parker entered California mercantile pursuits later than his brothers he had the greatest financial success. He made frequent trips to the East Coast to make large purchases, shipped the goods around Cape Horn or via the Isthmus and then hurried to meet the shipments at San Francisco where he ensured their quick sale. He sold many items before they arrived.

Also, after a short time as a Union officer during the Civil War, Parker promoted Colorado minerals in Europe and invested in several successful Colorado silver mines. By 1870 he had become wealthy from these and a variety of other smart investments. It was mostly Parkerís money that expanded the ranch.

By the early 1870ís the ranch consisted of about 18,000 acres bordered very roughly by Lincoln and Roseville on the north and south, by Rocklin and the trans-Sierra railroad tracks on the east and by the tracks near todayís Indian Casino on the west. This is the area into which Rocklin has been expanding since the late 1970ís.

By the time George Whitney died in 1873, Parker had gained control of the majority of ranch assets. He bought out his brothersí remaining interests that year. Even though he continued with his international business activities the ranch continued to absorb his creativity. He wanted to diversify away from dependence on his sheep business and into a wider variety of other agricultural opportunities. But for this he needed water.

Next Time: The Magnificent Landed Estate of the Honorable J. Parker Whitney

The foregoing is from a variety of sources including Fortune Built by Gun by Richard A. Miller


Placer County News Headlines

California Fires Shutter Lake Tahoe IRONMAN EventDue to unsafe air quality conditions in the Lake Tahoe basin, IRONMAN Lake Tahoe and IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Tahoe will not take place today, Sunday, September 21, 2014.

California Statewide Fire Summary: King Fire 10 Percent Contained Today 6,700 CAL FIRE, local and federal firefighters remain on the frontlines of 6 major wildfires across California.

Subaru BRZ: An Old-School Sports CarThe 2015 Subaru BRZ, a sports car smartly designed for driving enthusiasts who want to own a light, agile car that can provide that elusive fun factor while also looking cool.

California Statewide Fire Summary: King Fire over 80,000 Acres California Fire Update: Firefighters are concerned on the King Fire that this may shift the direction of the fire pushing it back to the South

PCWA Board Declares King Fire EmergencyCalifornia Fire Update: Auburn, CA- Critically important power generation, residential, maintenance, and storage facilities of the Placer County Water Agency

Roseville Fundraiser Raises $18,000 for Upcoming MobilePackA local effort to pack 500,000 meals for malnourished children around the world recently raised nearly $18,000 at a dinner fundraiser

Steinbach Tackles Paranoid SchizophreniaHe began hearing voices in his head at age 15. It started with hearing a man and a woman. They were good voices.

King Fire Forces Air Quality AdvisoryCalifornia Fire Update: The Placer County Public Health Officer and Placer County Air Pollution Control District are issuing this joint Air Quality Advisory to notify the public of poor air quality conditions due to smoke from the King Fire

Sierra College Slashing Annual Water Use by 30 PercentDrought Watch: Rocklin's Sierra College Expected to Decrease Annual Water Use by 30 Percent

Rocklin Claims 26 Million Gallons of Water SavedDrought Watch: City of Rocklin claims a savings of almost 26 million gallons of water by removing some landscape grass, shutting down water parks.

KidsFirst and The Rite Aid Foundation PartnerRoseville, CA -- KidsFirst is the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Placer County, operating three Counseling and Family Resource Centers in Roseville, Auburn and Citrus Heights

California Statewide Fire Summary (9.19.14)California Fire Update: Cooler weather allows progress on King Fire and containment of Dog Bar Fire.


more news