TOWERING PRESENCE At far left, Tracy’s first water tower at Sixth Street and Tracy Boulevard is shown in 1912. Another, built in 1928 in what is now the Tracy Civic Center, is shown at left. Originally built to maintain water pressure in the city’s pipes, the two water towers still standing in downtown Tracy are empty of water and stand as a reminder of the city’s past. Saturday, July 24, 2010 OUR CITY’S STORY On July 24, 2010, Tracy celebrates the 100th anniversary of its incorporation as a city. Take a look at the history of Tank Town, from its distant pre-industrial past, through its suburban present and into its promising future. The first Europeans Before Tracy T he first known inhabitants of what became the Tracy area never heard of Tracy. They were Yokuts Indians. As teacher-historian Alan Hawkins has reported in “The Tule People,” the Yokuts built their villages along the rivers and marshes where many tules — reeds native to the San Joaquin Delta — grew. Spanish explorers of the 18th century called the group los Tularenos, or “Tule People.” The local Yokuts were among the estimated 25,000 Yokuts who lived in the San Joaquin Valley, from just north of Stockton south to Bakersfield. For most of the year, they made their homes along the rivers. In winter and during the spring Sierra runoff, they moved their villages, including reed dwellings, to higher ground along the edge of the foothills. The largest Yokuts village in the Tracy area was called Pescadero — Spanish for “fishing place” — and stretched 5 miles north of Tracy on the bank of Old River. An estimated 200 people lived there. The Yokuts, who called themselves the Chulamni, hunted tule elk, deer and other animals, fished, gathered plants and seeds, played games and buried their dead in several places around the Tracy area. After the Spanish arrived in the late 18th century, establishing missions from San Diego north to Sonoma, the era of the Yokuts ended. Many died from European diseases, against which they had no immune protection, and others were captured in raids from missions. By the time the mission system ended in 1834, there were few Chulamni still alive. S panish explorer Juan Bautista De Anza and his party became the first Europeans to set sight on what is now the Tracy area on April 4, 1776 — three months to the day before the Declaration of Independence was issued in far-off Philadelphia. He and members of his party, however, were far from impressed by what they saw. De Anza and his party had traveled by horseback north from Monterey to what became San Francisco to colonize Mission Dolores and establish the Presidio. On April 4 — Easter Sunday — the party traveled south on the eastern side of Mount Diablo to an area east of Tracy. Father Pedro Font, a Catholic priest, was in the party and kept a complete diary. After looking over the area of mud flats and tules on the edges of the marshlands of the San Joaquin Delta on April 4, 1776, he wrote: “In all the journey today, we did not see a single Indian, finding only human tracks stamped in the dry mud. It appeared to me the county is so bad that it could not easily be inhabited by human beings.” He added: “At least I was left with no desire to return to travel through it, for besides the smarting of the eyes, which I brought from there, and fever in my mouth, which I had corrected but which today returns to assail me, I have never seen an uglier country.” After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, governance of Alta California came under Mexican control. But this part of the Pacific Coast was a long way — and separated by inhospitable deserts — from Mexico City, so control and settlement were limited. In the meantime, settlers from the young United States were heading west, and to attract people to the land, the Mexican government offered grants to American settlers. One such grant was Rancho El Pescadero, north of what became Grant Line Road. the Delta, connecting to the 1869 line 3 miles east of Ellis. Running the line above the flood plain of the Delta marshlands determined the route. That connection became hen the railroad arrived to this area in Tracy, a town created by the the closing decades of Central Pacific (Southern Pacific after 1882) and named the 19th century, it gave birth for Lathrop J. Tracy, a grain to a new town — Tracy. merchant and railroad invesIt all started in 1869, when tor in Mansfield, Ohio. The what was originally called the name was selected by Western Pacific was J.H. Stewart, superconstructed from Niles intendent of the new through the Livermore railroad line, who had Valley and over the worked for Tracy in Altamont Hills to conOhio and admired him. nect with the main The C.P. laid out the Central Pacific line at town’s first streets, Lathrop. between Front (Sixth) At the base of the hills, and Ninth streets, and just east of where Schulte sold lots. Wooden buildTRACY and Lammers roads interings were carted by sect, the Central Pacific wagon from Ellis to Tracy. (which had acquired the original As Tracy grew by degrees W.P.), established a “coaling staas an unincorporated town tion” called Ellis. Nine years later, Ellis became with a railroad junction — history. In 1878, a Central Pacific where some train crews were subsidiary — the San Pablo and stationed — surrounded by wheat and barley fields, Tulare Railroad — was built from near Martinez through INCORPORATION, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE Antioch and along the edge of Tracy is born W YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY From left to right, Tracy’s police station, fire administration building and City Hall gleam in 2010. But they are a far cry from their predecessors, which can be seen on Pages 5, 6 and 7.