First, just imagine what Elk Grove was like around 1850. The Monterey Trail connected New Helvetia (Sutter’s Fort) with Monterey, the Mexican capitol of California. The stretch between Sacramento and Stockton was a dusty stagecoach road called Stockton Road. Unfortunately, in the wintertime it flooded and almost impossible to traverse. So, they built a new version on higher ground that became known as the “Upper” Stockton Road. Today, the “Lower” Stockton Road is known as Franklin Boulevard and Upper Stockton Road is the southbound lane of Highway 99. The Elk Grove House and Stage Stop was one of the first businesses of Elk Grove and was in the northbound lane near where it is located today. A few years later and a mile north, another hotel was built on the SW corner of Upper Stockton and Franklin-Elk Grove Road, which ultimately became Main Street. The name Main Street ended at Elk Grove-Florin Road, but the road continued on dividing the Kerr brothers properties and soon the whole road became Elk Grove Boulevard. It was common to name roads after the two towns that connected them, like Hood-Franklin and Elk Grove-Florin Road soon followed. The town grew. Later streets were named after the town or often after the farmers and ranchers that lived on them, otherwise, who knows.
Over the years, we are very fortunate to have had town historian Elizabeth Pinkerton document the history of some of them. This is what she knows (In alphabetical order). Maybe you can even add to it?
ALTA MESA Road
This is the road that runs from Dillard Road to the San Joaquin County line. It starts out in an eastward direction, but only for a short way, for it takes an abrupt turn south and then goes on and on. It passes through the community of Alta Mesa in the southern part of our county. It was settled by a group of survivors of the San Francisco earthquake of 1903. They called themselves the Don Ray Colony. When the traction railroad line came through the area in 1910, the new colonists decided to raise grapes. They designed a marketing label called Alta Mesa, which in Spanish means High and Dry, perfect for the description of the land they chose to live upon. The railroad crossing became known as Blake’s Crossing, but it was not long before it became known as Alta Mesa. (Isn’t there a Blake Road?) The grape venture didn’t work out, due to lack of water, probably. But the colonists turned to raising chickens and dairying, and they were very successful in this. The new rail line provided Alta Mesa farmers with a great way to ship their fresh eggs and milk to people in Stockton and Sacramento.
When you cross the Cosumnes River on your way to Galt (on Highway 99), you will notice the second exit is Arno Road. However, there is no Arno, at least not now. When the Central Pacific Railroad put its tracks in, heading south from Sacramento, this was a station stop. Alice and Pio Valensin, our count and countess of the time, chose not to have the station named Hicksville, which was the name of the settlement there. They chose a fancier name, one that reminded them of their favorite places in the Arno River Valley of Italy. That is how we got the name Arno. Hicksville continued to exist on the east side of (Upper) Stockton Road, and Arno was the place on the west side. All we that remains today is the Hicksville Cemetery.
BACKER RANCH Road
Janet Eldo Backer-Reave (1934-2022) told the story about the Backer family in an interview about naming a road off of Bruceville Road – “It’s called Backer Ranch Road, but this was not where the Backer Ranch was. There were actually several places owned by Backers and when Elk Grove decided to honor the family with a street, ‘They just pulled them all together, and picked that one’ said Janet Reaves, daughter to perhaps the most famous Backer. That was Leonard ‘Lennie” Backer, known to baseball fans as the ‘Franklin Milkman,’ since he came to baseball off his family’s dairy ranch. When he signed with the Sacramento So9lons out of high school in the mid1920’s, he promised to buy his dad a milking machine to make up for the loss of a farmhand. He was a tough third baseman and consistently hit over .300, but never got a shot at the majors. That may be because he got hit in the head by a pitch in San Francisco. The beaning left him in the hospital for six weeks. He died in 1989, just a bit more than 100 years after his ancestors Henry and Fredricka settled in the Elk Grove area.
BIG HORN Boulevard
This winding road that runs through west Elk Grove/Laguna was named by the developer as were many newer roads and streets that have no local historical relevance.
BLAKE Road runs between Tavernor on the east end to Colony Road on the west, but ties into Dillard at the curve where I lived on our farm until I married. Blake Road divided the boundary for Galt and Elk Grove High Schools at the time. We were actually in the Lee School District, but due to distance and riding bikes or walking to school, we applied for and secured transfers to Colony Elementary each year. I attended Colony Grammar School for 8 years before attending high school in Elk Grove. My eighth-grade class was the last to graduate from Colony, the same school my dad, Marion A. Miller attended in his younger years, before Arno/Colony/Herald combined to become Arcohe Elementary in Herald.
On the west side of highway 99, is Laguna Boulevard which is fairly new, but the road on the east has been with us for a long time. Bond Road was short – from Stockton Road to the farm pioneer Augustus Bond at today’s Elk Grove-Florin Road. The road was later extended eastward to Grant Line Road south of Sheldon. Mrs. Bond was related to the Donner family. Laguna Boulevard extended Bond all the way to Interstate 5 to serve developments of Laguna Creek and Laguna West. Laguna derived its name from the creek with the same name, christened in the early 1800’s by a Spanish exploration party searching for a place to build more missions. They didn’t, however, in case you were wondering, because they found the area uninhabitable because of the terrible flooding. That may bring some truth to what we keep hearing about flood plains and hundred-year floods.
This road runs all the way from Grant Line Road to Highway 50 and Folsom, but its name was somewhat of a mystery. There was a Bradshaw family that lived around the north end of the road, but we don’t know much about them.
Surprisingly, we get the name from Bruce, the King of the Scotts. He was an ancestor of Mrs. Bradford whose husband gave up gold mining to settle there in what is now the south Franklin area. Today the road leads from Kaiser and Methodist Hospitals to the Sacramento County Branch Jail. The Bradford’s were very influential in both agriculture and politics. They were even able to arrange for a special railroad track to come directly to their vineyard and winery, just north of Twin Cities Road.
Caselman between Calvine and Gerber Roads in the late 50’s was named Arcadia Road named after the Arcadian Community Nudist Camp located at the east end of the road. I used to live on the 20 acres bordering it on the south. Fun times! (I bet they were!!!!)
In the 50’s it was called Tokay Lane. Later it was changed to California Vineyard Road because it went from (Upper) Stockton Road to the headquarters of a large grape growing enterprise, The California Vineyard Company. It covered a large amount of land around the Traction Line, north of Grant Line Road, and although there were many people employed there, the company had very little to do with the communities around it. Workers came there on the train, the products were shipped out, and not much is known about the company. Over the years (early 50’s), the name of the road was shortened to Calvine so that the name would fit on the signposts. We now have Calvine High School.
CLAY STATION Road
It is only fitting that we should celebrate the clay that made our early farmers become the creative and ingenuous agriculturists as they did. Clay Station Road connects Dillard Road with Twin Cities Road at the spot where the Central Pacific Railroad, now Southern Pacific Railroad, intersected. This branch of the line was put in later to connect with the main line.
COSUMNES RIVER Drive
This road leads to our wonderful Cosumnes River College, but that is a fairly new name for the road that was previously known as Duluth Avenue, a short street that went west from Highway 99. We don’t know why the road was called Duluth, the name of the French fur trapper, but perhaps someone lived there that came from Duluth, Minnesota. No matter, the name has ceased to exist.
This long stretch of road on the south side of the Cosumnes river that connects Highway 99 to Jackson Highway is a very prominent feature of the south county. It was first known as Bandeen Road, named after the early pioneer Bandeen family that lived there. It was a much traveled during the gold days, the main route for miners to Weber’s Place and Ferry in Stockton. The Dillard name comes much later when the California Traction line set up a station there and named it Dillard for the family that had land there.
David Lewis Davis purchased 1,120 acres in southern Sacramento County in 1861 where he became a grain farmer. Information taken from the History of Sacramento County. Though the county roads were dirt trails at the time, the road that went past the Davis property was known as Davis Road. It remains known as Davis Road and begins at its junction with Dillard Road about four miles east of Highway 99.
EAGLE’S NEST Road
One can easily imagine it was a long-ago eagle that gave the road its name. The road begins at Grant Line Road and goes north to Douglas Road, just east of its intersection with Sunrise Boulevard.
ELDER CREEK Road
This road and the creek received their name from the Elder family. Turner Elder settled there in 1846. Polly Elder was one of the daughters of Thomas and Elizabeth Rhoads, the Mormon family that came overland to California by wagon train. The group traveled for the first half with the Donner Party, but then separated and went on the Oregon Trail to Sutter’s Fort.
ELK GROVE-FLORIN Road
When you are in Elk Grove, you say Elk Grove-Florin Road, but when you are in Florin, you say Florin-Elk Grove Road. South from Elk Grove Boulevard, the road was called Parkway until the first traffic light was installed in 1977. The northern part that eventually became South Watt is fairly new. It became the connector with long established Watt Avenue making it one long road through many Sacramento area towns. The two-town name for a road was fairly common in California, but we don’t know how the custom began. In early days there were three roads that led out of Elk Grove: Elk Grove-Florin Road went north, Elk Grove-Sheldon went east, and Elk Grove-Franklin went west.
ELK GROVE Boulevard
The originally went from the town of Elk Grove, nestled around todays Highway 99, to the railroad tracks, which missed the town by a good mile. It was also the dividing line of the pioneering brother’s Kerr properties. Eventually, it became Main Street for the new town that started a new life along the railroad tracks in the 1970’s. The old town died away leaving only its cemetery to mark its passing. Elk Grove Boulevard extends from Grant Line Road to Interstate 5. At one time the road was known as Elk Grove-Sheldon Road (to the east), Elk Grove-Franklin Road (to the west) and as you can guess, Elk Grove-Florin Road (to the north). To the south, there was only the little road to Graham’s Grove that became the Elk Grove Park.
It is likely that this road got its name from Jared Sheldon and William Daylor who had a wagon making business at what is now called Sheldon during the gold days. This was the route that would be taken to get from Jackson Road and Sutter’s Fort-Sacramento. The name Excelsior showed a connection to riches, the gold from the Cosumnes River, and the intent of early settlers to let everyone know this was a great place. The Excelsior School was located near the Jackson Road. It was called Bailey School when it opened in 1859, but few years later in 1863, it was renamed Excelsior School. The school served the area until 1946 when it merged with Enterprise School that later became part of Sierra Enterprise today.
Although it is the longest east-west road in Sacramento County today, Florin Road started out as a little trail leading eastward from Upper Stockton Road to the railroad stop that received the name Florin. It was said Judge Crocker who called the stop Florin, naming the railroad station for the many wildflowers of the area. Old Town Florin grew up around the railroad tracks where it still exists today although not everyone would recognize it as once a growing town. Florin was once called the Strawberry Capitol of the World. If that was Florin’s greatness, then its sadness was the removal of thousands of residents in the hysteria of 1942 when all people of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps.
FOULKS RANCH Road
The road was put in when the development known as Laguna Creek (West Elk Grove) was created. It goes from Elk Grove Boulevard to the Foulks Ranch School. The Foulks Ranch was to the east. The main Foulks family house is now in the town of Franklin, and the older house from the mid 1880s has been restored by the Elk Grove Historical Society and is located in the Elk Grove Regional Park.
Originally, it was named the Monterey Trail, (Lower) Stockton Road, then Franklin Boulevard. Although we may not think of it as a main road today, except in its most urban part, it was the first inland north-south road in our area. The road paralleled the river following the mighty Sacramento as it rushed on southward to join with the other great river of the Central Valley, the San Joaquin. First known as the Monterey Trail because it was the route from New Helvetia-Sutter’s Fort to Monterey, the capital of Mexican California, this was the earliest traveling route. Duri9nbg the gold days, the trail became known as the Lower Stockton Road, one of two main roads that connected the growing city of Sacramento to Weber’s Town that picked up its new name of Stockton. The Fr4anklin name came for the stage stop of the mid v1800’s named after Andrew George in honor of his mother’s family.
GRANT LINE Road
The road dates to 1844, winding its way 17 miles from the Upper Monterey Trail (Stockton Road) through Sloughhouse. It was the line that marked Jared Sheldon’s land grant from the Mexican government, 18,662 acres along the Cosumnes River. It was named Rancho Omochumnes and also known as Rio de los Cosumnes al Norte. The marker was lined up with Mount Diablo in the Bay area, and was surveyed by William Tecumseh Sherman, who later became the famous General in the Civil War. Over the years Grant Line Road became the home of several large hop ranches. Presently, Grant Line is in transition to a larger, wider road to be a connecter from Highway 99 to Highway 50. This is supposed to be a 10-year project that has already started.
My wife Lynda (Trantham ‘63) lived on Halfway Road off Excelsior. When the road needed to be named, her mother was asked what to name it and she said the road only ran halfway from Excelsior to her farm so it should be named Halfway Road.
It runs from Florin Road to the Jackson Highway. You will notice the hedges all along Hedge Avenue, and they are Osage Orange. Years ago, I talked to Helen Roemer about them, but even though she had lived almost her entire life on Hedge Avenue, she did not know the mystery of the hedges. The railroad station there was once known as Pioneer Station.
As one might guess, the road runs to the town of Hood on the Sacramento River, and at its eastern end is the town of Franklin. Many roads were named for the towns that were on either ends of them, such as Elk Grove-Florin Road.
This is still a direct route from Sacramento to the city of Jackson in Amador County, it was, of course, a very essential during the days of gold. Old timers call it the Jackson Highway, although the official designation is Jackson Road, State Highway 16. Supplies, which were shipped up river from San Francisco to Sacramento, were carried along this road to the mines along the Cosumnes River and to the gold towns in the foothills. The stages came this way to Slough House, Michigan Bar, Drytown, Amador City, Sutter Creek, and Jackson, but now most travelers on Jackson Road go to and from Rancho Murieta.
The home, farm, and dairy of the Kammerer family was on this road that goes from Bruceville Road to Highway 99. There are plans for it to become a great connector from Interstate 5 to Highway 99 to Highway 50 by Grant Line Road. It is considered the present southern boundary of the City of Elk Grove.
LEE SCHOOL Road and LEE SCHOOL CROSS – These are connections between Tavernor Road and Dillard Road. The old Lee School is still there, but it has been a residence for most of the time since it closed in the late 1940s. Why was the school named Lee School? It does not date back to Robert E. Lee of the Civil War, but there were Lee relatives who lived in the Wilton-Dillard area, and they may have been supporters of the famous general. Farther west on Dillard Road, we have Davis Road, and there was once a Davis School there. So, those are connections to the Civil War.
This road actually has four names, but Mack Road is its oldest part. At its eastern end, it is known as Elsie from Stockton Road to Cottonwood where it ends abruptly near Florin High School. On the west side of Stockton Road, the road was Mack Road because it was the lane that led to the ranch of Charles Mack, a fruit and grain grower whose property covered most of the urban area north of Mack Road. The road was connected to Meadow View Road at Franklin Road when this area developed during the 1960s and 1970s. These were all meadow lands, and early travelers tell of seeing nothing but fields and fields of springtime flowers for miles and miles across these vast meadows. After Interstate 5 was constructed, Meadow View was connected to Pocket Road, a piece of Sacramento’s River history that describes land jutting out into the river as a pocket might. Thus, we have Elsie-Mack-Meadowview-Pocket, four distinct stories, unrelated except by their march from quiet dry country land to quiet river country land, now mostly all urbanized. Charles Mack Elementary School, nestled alongside the development that was created in the Mack olive orchard, provides an historical connection to the Mack family.
MICHIGAN BAR Road
The clue to many gold rush era names is the use of bar in the names, which doesn’t have anything to do with drinking as one might think. When a river took a turn in another direction, or if there was a submerge3d bank of sand alongside the shore, the place was called a bar. For the gold miners, this kind of bar often led to a bonanza. The heavy ore settled at the bar, just waiting to be found by some lucky person. There were three miners who found this bar on the Cosumnes River, and you are right, they were indeed from the state of Michigan; so that is why they named the place. It grew to become a tent city of 2,000 folks during the great gold days of California. Michigan Bar Road was the main road from Stockton to Placerville. Folks crossed the Cosumnes River, using the Michigan Bar toll bridge. And, it is likely that the enterprising businessman who built the toll bridge, Samuel Putnam, ended up with more gold in his pocket than any of the miners.
POPPY RIDGE Road
This is a short road that runs west from Highway 99, just south of Elk Grove Regional Park, to Bruceville Road. There’s not much of a ridge there, and these days there are not anywhere near as many poppies as there were when it was given its name. The Poppy Ridge Dairy was located here, and this was the road that led to it from Stockton Road, what we know of today as Highway 99. The owner of the dairy was related to one of Elk Grove’s most famous women, Harriet Eddy, who was principal of Elk Grove High School in the early 1900s. She’s the person for whom Harriet Eddy Middle School is named. As development progresses south of Elk Grove Boulevard, this is likely to become a main road in the area.
POWER INN Road
I have been told that there really was a place called the Power Inn, and it was somewhere in the vicinity of today’s road and its intersection with Fruitridge Road. This is where all the transportation power came together in the days before the automobile made them all nearly obsolete. The electric powered Traction Line railroad also had this spot as its terminus. This spot was also the eastern terminus of Sacramento’s city street cars, so it was indeed a place of power.
This is the main road of what was once the Miwok Indian Rancheria along the Cosumnes River in Wilton. Descendants of the original Miwok families live there today, and we will soon have the Wilton Rancheria casino and Resort in Elk Grove.
Today Sheldon Road stretches all the way from Franklin Boulevard to Excelsior Road, and then takes an odd turn to Grant Line Road, just north of the town of Sheldon. The road and town gets it name from Jared Sheldon, the proprietor of the Omochmnes Land Grant of 1840’s, who shared the land grant with his partner, William Daylor. Sheldon kept the middle piece of this vast landholding. The northeastern part became known as Daylor’s Upper Ranch, and the southwestern part as Daylor’s Lower Ranch. Wagon making was a major industry at the place where Grant Line and Excelsior met, and that is where the town of Sheldon began. Excelsior was the connecting road to the Jackson Highway during those years.
SLOUGH HOUSE Road
You may wonder at this spelling, but it is actually the correct spelling instead of one word, Sloughhouse, that we use today. Jared Dixon Sheldon, the earliest settler/landowner of our south county, married Catherine Rhoads, the young daughter of a pioneering family who had been given some land between Galt and Elk Grove by John Sutter. Sheldon built a house along the slough between Deer Creek and the Cosumnes River, not far from present day Sloughhouse, for his young bride. It is more than 150 years later, and we still call the place and the road by the same name used so long ago – slough house. You can follow Slough House Road from Grant Line Road, to the Jackson Highway. It follows Deer Creek and provides main road access for the river ranchers. This road is one of our historical treasures and should be noted as such.
STONE HOUSE Road
This is the connector between Jackson Highway and Latrobe Road, west of Rancho Murieta. We know that there was a stone house there once, built by Chinese workers who settled there after the railroads were completed. There was even a Stone House School – one in the 19thcentury and the other lasting until the present Cosumnes River Elementary School was built in the late 1940s.
TWIN CITIES Road
This one is my favorite names because it has taken me more than two decades to find its origin. Normally, a road by this name leads to two cities, or is the link between them, but neither of these definitions has ever fit this location. Finally, a few years ago, I was told the story behind the name. A real estate venture in the early part of the 20th century, at the place where the road crosses what was then Stockton Road, was referred to as ‘Tween Cities. It was between the two cities of Stockton and Sacramento. Today, you can travel on Twin Cities Road all the way from the Sacramento River to Ione. Rancho Seco is on the east side of Highway 99 a few miles. You can still see the two towers.
The road goes from Franklin Boulevard, on the west, to Center Parkway in south Sacramento. Although this is a relatively new road created in the 1960s, the name is a great description of the rolling lands that existed here. Although they were perhaps not so high in elevation, it seems as if you could see forever. Like Meadowview, Valley-Hi is a reminder that houses were not here in our not-too-distant past.
This road is a reminder of the huge acreage utilized for grapes and its companion crop, strawberries, through the first half of the 20th century. It crosses the east end of Calvine Road. James Rutter of Florin planted the first Tokay grapes; they flourished in the fine clay soils of the entire south Sacramento County region.
This used to be a little road that went north of Elk Grove Boulevard where the Waterman family lived. However, it is now getting to be a main thoroughfare across East Elk Grove. Old timers will remember well when this road was used for racing of soapbox derby cars made by youngsters.
This was the line that separated two portions of the Omochumnes Land Grant. The road has its northern tip in the present town of Sheldon; on the west was the Jared Sheldon Ranch and on the east was William Daylor’s Lower Ranch. Later the road was given the name of Wilton Road for the founder of the present town of Wilton, Seth Wilton.
Most of this information came from Elizabeth Pinkerton’s HHH Book-2, Fields, Farms, Schools with a few additions. Her book is loaded with many other pieces of history from our area.
Call her at (916) 685-0606 or firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
If you have any other information about the roads or other roads, please send it and we will add it to our records. Thank you.