A Historical Road Trip Through the Central Valley

By Wes Rhea | Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau, Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Bakersfield, Visit Stockton, Visit Vacaville, Visit Visalia, Visit Yolo

California’s Central Valley is rich in storied history. While many regions in California have exploded in population and growth, the Central Valley has managed to keep its humble agricultural roots alive and well. Tour the valley on this off-the-beaten path adventure and discover the history upon which California’s bread basket has been built. 

Winters Railroad Bridge – Winters

Winters Railroad Bridge is located off the 505 freeway in the historic town of Winters. The Winters Trestle Train Bridge was built in 1906 by Southern Pacific Railroad to replace an old wooden trestle bridge that connected Winters to Vacaville. Today, the bridge is only accessible to pedestrians and cyclists where it connects with the Putah Creek bike trail and spans several miles along the Putah Creek levee.

More to explore in the area: https://visityolo.com/

Pena Adobe – Vacaville

The oldest structure built in Solano County, the Peña Adobe, is California historical landmark #534 and the former home of the Peña family. The Peña Adobe was erected in 1842. The simple adobe with its dirt floors and four windows still has the original hand-hewn redwood timbers which were cut in the hills near Napa. The walls are two feet thick and made of adobe mud bricks. 25 Mission-trained Indians sun dried the adobe bricks and built both Vaca and Peña’s adobes. (The Vaca Adobe was built to the east of the Peña Adobe. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1892.) On the first Saturday of each month the Pena Adobe Historical Society hosts an open house where visitors can tour the adobe and enjoy interactive events while learning about the history of the area’s early settlers. 

More to explore in the area: https://www.visitvacaville.com/

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#TriviaTuesday The oldest building in Solano County is the Peña Adobe, a small adobe in the hills of what’s now western Vacaville. It was built in 1842 to house the family of Juan Felipe Peña, some of the first Mexican settlers in the county, and remained with the family until 1957. It re-opened as a city park in 1965 and is now designated as a historical landmark. Though there’s no record of playing base ball on the Peña property, the “Bash Brothers” of their era for the Aetna Base Ball Club of Dixon in the 1880s were Jose and Isidro Peña, the heavy-hitting grandsons of Juan Felipe who used their skills on the field to help gain acceptance in a community that was predominantly white. Join CVVBB as we visit the @pena_adobe_historical_society THIS SATURDAY from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. and tell the story of base ball in California in the era of the Peñas. The address is 4699 Pena Adobe Road, Vacaville and the event is free, so there’s no reason not to come out and join us! Sources: http://www.penaadobe.org/about Vaught, David. The Farmers' Game : Baseball in Rural America, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012. P. 46 ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucdavis/detail.action?docID=3318671. #vintagebaseball #cvvbb #Dixon #DixonCA #calhum #vacaville. #penaadobe #history #sacramentohistory #baseballhistory #californiahistory #civilwarhistory #sacramentocounty #Solanocounty

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Fort Tejon State Park – Bakersfield

Fort Tejon is located 70 miles north of Los Angeles, near the top of the Grapevine off Interstate 5 in Lebec. This historic fort was garrisoned by the U.S. Army on August 10, 1854 to control a local Indian reservation. Workers dress in era clothing and perform reenactments of life in the 1800's. Other activities include picnicking and limited camping.

More to explore in the area: https://www.visitbakersfield.com/ 

Shark Tooth Hill – Bakersfield

Shark Tooth Hill is located off Highway 99 from Rosedale Highway. Shark Tooth Hill is an active archaeological dig site that's run by the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History. The natural history museum promotes paleontology, geology, anthropology, archeology and biology of the area. Museum exhibits include the marine fossils of sharks, whales, sea lions, rays, turtles and more from when Bakersfield was the shore of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can be a paleontologist for a day and join the actual archaeological dig at Shark Tooth Hill.

More to explore in the area: https://www.visitbakersfield.com/ 

Western Railway Museum – Suisun

Experience California as it was 100 years ago at the Western Railway Museum. With over 50 historic cars on display, 22 miles of track and 22 acres the Western Railway Museum is ideal for families and group outings. The museum features historic railway exhibits, vintage streetcar and interurban train rides, large shaded picnic grounds, a museum store, library archives, and Depot Cafe. Don’t miss the Spring Wildflower Wine Train rides, which occur each weekend in April and take visitors on a scenic ride to view the spring wildflower bloom. 

More to explore in the area: https://www.visitfairfieldca.com/

McHenry Mansion – Modesto

As the city’s only original Victorian, the McHenry Mansion is Modesto's treasure. The McHenry Mansion was built in 1883 by Robert and Matilda McHenry at the corner of 15th and I Streets in Modesto, California.  The Mansion was designed by Jeremiah Robinson, a Stockton contractor who constructed the Stanislaus County court house in 1872-1873. Guests can tour the mansion for free. 

More to explore in the area: http://visitmodesto.com/

Forestiere Underground Gardens – Fresno

The Forestiere Underground Gardens are located off Highway 99 off the Shaw Avenue exit. Construction on these underground gardens began by Sicilian immigrant, Baldassare Forestiere in 1906. Patterned after the ancient catacombs of Rome, the gardens feature elaborate stonework, arched doorways, courtyards and grottoes. Fruit trees and grapevines grow from beneath the earth to the natural sunlight that warms the courtyards. The underground gardens once covered nearly 10 acres, 3 levels and contained close to 100 rooms.

More to explore in the area: http://www.playfresno.org/ 

Fresno Flats Historic Village – Fresno

Fresno Flats Historic Village is located north of Fresno off Highway 41. This history museum consists of several restored historic buildings including homes, one-room schoolhouses, barns, 19th century jails, a blacksmith shop and wagon shed.

More to explore in the area: http://www.playfresno.org/ 

Haggin Museum – Stockton

A trip to the Central Valley isn’t complete without a stop at the Haggin Museum, located in the center of Stockton’s Victory Park. The museum’s permanent art and history exhibits are augmented by a number of temporary exhibitions annually. Special events, such as family programs, lectures, and musical performances, are held throughout the year. On display in the museum’s fine art galleries are dozens of paintings by renowned 19th- and early 20th-century American and European artists, including Jean Béraud, Rosa Bonheur, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and more. 

More to explore in the area: https://www.visitstockton.org/

Exeter Murals – Exeter

The Exeter Murals are located east of Visalia off Highway 99. Exeter is a quaint farming town that's best known for over two dozen murals that can be found around downtown. These murals all depict the history of the region from American Indians to everyday life on a farm. Exeter is just a short detour from Highway 198 on the way to Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park.

More to explore in the area: https://www.visitvisalia.com/



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