We became the city of Elk Grove 20 years ago on July 1, 2000! It was a great celebration, and a special flag flew over the U.S. Capitol, thanks to our then-U.S. Rep. Robert Matsui. We still have that historic flag! It was given to me by Congressman Matsui, now deceased, and I recently donated it to the Elk Grove Historical Society. It will always remind us of becoming our great city of Elk Grove!
This is how it all began.
We first became Elk Grove as a stage stop on what is now Highway 99 in 1850 during the days of gold when California was a brand new state. We became a small town when the railroad came through, but we were surrounded by fields of grain and cattle. Our present Old Town was the center of Elk Grove by the railroad station. We became a suburb of Sacramento, and then, we became our very own city!
It took a group of dedicated citizens to put forward the steps that had to be taken for incorporation in the late 1990s. Measure J was placed on the ballot, and the people of Elk Grove voted to become a city!
Earlier efforts to form a city began in the late 1980s with a group formed by local residents to consider incorporation for cityhood. The first election was in June 1990, and the vote for incorporation failed by only 100 votes. Members of the incorporation group were longtime Elk Grove residents Glenn Houde, Carl Amundsen, Roger Shaffer, Bill Dohn, Frank Sansone, Alvin Bartholomew, and David Lema.
The second attempt, Measure J in March 2000, was successful with 68% approval! Elk Grove became the first new city in California and the nation in the 2000s.
We thank our many citizens who had the vision and determination, and did the hard work that culminated in our historical vote for incorporation and independence. I do not know who the members of the second committee were, but, perhaps a reader will be able to tell us. I am quite sure that Roy Herburger was one of them.
Here are 10 steps that brought us to where we are today:
1 – Our Miwok people lived along the Cosumnes River, and they are still with us today. The name of the river, Cosumnes, is from the Miwok word for salmon, Ko-sum.
2 – In the 1800s, California was under Spanish rule, and then Mexican rule. We get the name of Laguna from the Spanish. What is now Franklin Road was the route from Sutter’s Fort to the Mexican capital in Monterey. It was called the Monterey Trail. When it flooded in the winter, travelers used the Upper Monterey Trail, now Highway 99.
3 – Our first settlers arrived in the 1840s - Martin Murphy, The Thomas Rhoads family, Jared Dixon Sheldon, and William Daylor. Sheldon was awarded the Omochumnes Land Grant from the Mexican government. The grant went from today’s Highway 99 to past Sloughhouse, and that is how Grant Line road got its name.
4 –Gold was discovered in 1848, and there were miners all along the Cosumnes River.
5 – In 1850, California became a state.
6 – James Hall built the Elk Grove stage stop on the Upper Monterey Trail, now Highway 99 and Elk Grove Park. And there were others in Sloughhouse and Franklin. The name of Elk Grove was Hall’s reference to the tule elk that traveled through the grove of trees that are in our park.
6 – The second site of the Elk Grove stage stop was at what is now the intersection of Highway 99 and EG Boulevard.
7 – The railroad came through the area in 1868, linking Sacramento to Stockton but it missed our little town-stage stop a mile to the east.
8 – Businesses built up around the railroad, and the town grew up there. This is our Old Town Elk Grove of today.
9 – By the mid-1900s, we were looked upon as a suburb of Sacramento.
10 – We became the City of Elk Grove in 2000! The vision, determination, and hard work of Elk Grove residents culminated in our historical vote for independence from Sacramento County.
The members of our first City Council were Jim Cooper, Sophia Scherman, Michael Leary, Dan Briggs, and Rick Soares. The mayoral position rotated among the members, and the first mayor was Jim Cooper. The first City Hall was in a small building on Elk Grove Boulevard, and council meetings were held in the Elk Grove Unified School District’s board room. We had a population of 72,665 residents in 2000.
Two changes that occurred in the past 20 years were the formation of the Elk Grove Police Department in 2006 and directly elected mayor in 2012.
The current mayor of Elk Grove is Steve Ly, and council members are Patrick Hume, Steve Detrick, Darrell Suen, and Stephanie Nguyen. We now have 177,406 residents in our city of Elk Grove!
Read more in History Happened Here, Book 2- Fields,, Farms, Schools, Chapter 20!
NOTE: We send our condolences to Marcia and the family and friends of Arnold Adreani who left us recently. Read about Dr. A. next week.
BOOKS BY ELIZABETH PINKERTON
History Happened Here, Book 1 – River, Oaks, Gold
History Happened Here, Book 2 – Fields, Farms, Schools
We the People, a Story of Internment in America
All book proceeds go for student scholarships, and I thank the many purchasers who have made possible the 80 scholarships with each one $1,000 – make your check for books payable to Laguna Publishers and send to me at 9227 Lamprey Drive, Elk Grove, CA 95624. Books are $20 apiece and California sales tax is included. Add $3 for shipping of one book; $5 for 2-3 books. Call me at (916) 685-0606 or email me at email@example.com. Books are also available at the Davis ranch in Sloughhouse. The wonderful corn is ready, and so are the delicious cherries!