A BIT OF CLOVIS HISTORY
Posted on: Tuesday, 03/03/2009
How many of us really know the history behind our city of Clovis California? I dare to bet that out of the 98,000 or so citizens only a small percentage have knowledge of our history. For those curious and interested souls I will give you some Clovis history in a nutshell.
The city of Clovis strated as a freight stop along the San Joaquin Valley Railroad. Organized on January 15, 1890 by a group of Fresno businessmen, the town begun its history. Those original organizers were Mr. Thomas E. Hughes, Fulton Berry, Gilbert R. Osmun, H.D. Colson, John D. Gray, and William M. Williams. A partnership with Michigan railroad speculator Marcus Pollasky was then secured to assure the financial benefit of the town.
The SJVRR (San Joaquin Valley Railroad) began construction in Fresno on July 4, 1891 and reached the farmlands of Clovis Cole and George Owens by the end of October that same year. The railroad purchased right-of-way from both farmers, half from each - the east side from Cole and the west side from Owens. Then, it ran tracks up the borderline between the two properties. The railroad agreed to establish a station on the west side of the tracks and to call it "Clovis" as we are known today. The Clovis station, was on the Owens side of the track.
Cole and Owens later sold land to railroad speculator Marcus Pollasky for the development of a future townsite. Fresno help was needed through civil engineer Ingvar Tielman that mapped the townsite on behalf of Marcus Pollasky and recorded the townsite map on December 29, 1891. The original townsite featured streets named for the officers and principal investors of the railroad – (Benjamin) Woodworth, (Marcus)Pollasky, Fulton (Berry), (Thomas) Hughes, (Gerald)Osmun, and (O. D.) Baron. The townsite, named Clovis by its owner Marcus Pollasky, was laid out on what was originally Owens' land.
The railroad was completed as far as the town of Hamptonville (now Friant) on the banks of the San Joaquin River, just 26 miles (42 km) from its point of origin in Fresno. Following a celebration of the completion of tracklaying in November, 1891, the railroad began officially operating in January 1892.
The first year of operation of the railroad coincided with the beginnings of a deep national economic decline. Farmers were unable to get profitable return on their crops, banks and railroads failed nationwide. The San Joaquin Valley Railroad was unable to generate sufficient revenues to pay its debt, and was leased to the Southern Pacific Railroad and subsequently bought by Southern Pacific Railroad (SPRR) in 1893. The completion in 1894 of the lumber flume from the Shaver Lake mills to a yard in Clovis adjacent to the SJVRR track provided the impetus for further development of the area around the Clovis Station and the town began to take shape as lumber yard employees build homes close to their employment. Service businesses, churches, and schools became necessary, and the town was successfully begun.
At the same time as the railroad was being constructed, a group of Michigan lumbermen began acquiring thousands of acres of timber in the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Clovis. They built a dam on Stevenson Creek and created a lake that would enable them to move freshly cut lumber to a mill located next to the lake. They also constructed a 42-mile (68 km), 25-foot (7.6 m) high, V-shaped flume that started at the foot of the dam. As lumber was rough cut at the mill, it was loaded into the flume and propelled by water to a planing mill in the new town of Clovis.
Fresno newspapers in 1896 described Clovis as a growing town of nearly 500 homes and businesses. Clovis was incorporated as a city in 1912. Principal streets in the town center are still named for the railroad's officers, except for Fulton Street, which was later named Front Street, then Main Street, and is now Clovis Avenue. The last surviving structure built by the railroad is a depot now located near the site of the original Clovis Station. It has been long believed that this depot originally stood on the Tarpey Ranch near the intersection of Ashlan and Clovis Avenues. Evidence has surfaced that the depot may have been originally on the Las Palmas vineyards.
In 1999 it was moved to its present location in the town's center, at the northeast corner of Clovis Avenue and Fourth Street, and was restored by the Clovis Historical Society in partnership with local businesses and contractors.
Clovis has a long history as a western town known for its slogan, "Clovis - A Way of Life." Since 1914, the Clovis Rodeo has been held on the last weekend in April, with a parade on Saturday morning, followed by the rodeo that afternoon and all day Sunday. Also contributing to the "Clovis way of life" are a number of street festivals, including Big Hat Days, ClovisFest, and the weekly Friday Night Farmer's Market held between mid-May and mid-September every year.
Many buildings in the town core have been renovated. Older storefronts on Clovis Avenue, the main street running through town, have been restored and new buildings have been designed with facades that resemble those found in the early 20th century. The historic center, with its fresh new look, has been reborn as "Old Town Clovis." Dozens of new trendy restaurants and antique shops adorn the dowtown city streets. Clovis has the national recognition of enjoying one of the most successful school districts in the state thanks to the efforts of well minded visionaire local educators.
Clovis also enjoys beautiful suburbs, parks, walking and bicicling trails, beautiful long avenues, new neighborhods and is the gateway to many lakes and mountain communities in the sierras leading to Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. Because of it location and its generous and loving people, Clovis is not only a way of life, it is a wonderful example of old and new Americana.
Information gathered from public and historical public sources by www.ClovisRealEstateAgents.com
For a copy please write the Editor at Editor@ClovisREA.com
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