Walnut Grove and Locke History


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Walnut Grove History

Established in 1850 by John W. Sharp, Walnut Grove is one of the earliest settlements along the Sacramento River. Sharp journeyed west from Ohio with his young family and chose the site of Walnut Grove because of the abundant walnut and oak forests in the area.   The town quickly prospered as an agricultural center and riverboat stop (the forests were timbered for steamboat firewood) and a major shipping port by 1865 for agricultural produce, and fish,  with the Bartlett Pear as its primary product. By 1870 it was a thriving town full of small businesses (many owned by the Sharp family), a school, post office, and Union Guard Armory.  After Sharp's death in 1880, the heirs sold a large portion of the estate to Alex Brown and her son Alex.  The Brown family subsequently became heavily involved in the commercial life of the community, operating a general store, hotel, an asparagus packing house, and the well-known Bank of Alex Brown.   Due to the demands for rich agricultural land, its size stayed compact but has the distinction of being the only river town along the Sacramento River to occupy both the east and west riverbanks. For years a ferry connected between, until the first bridge was opened in 1916.  The bridge, since replaced by a modern span, was the first cantilevered counter-weight bascule drawbridge constructed west of the Mississippi River.  It was officially opened by the Governor of California who traveled with various dignitaries to Walnut Grove on the gubernatorial yacht.  Click the link below to take a walking tour of Walnut Grove.

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