Our GIS Department has a wonderful visual tour of all our historic sites, or read below for a text history.
Old Finnish Picnic Grounds
The picnic grounds are located about 200 yards past the end of China Garden Road, adjacent to Interstate 80. During the early Rocklin days, these picnic grounds were a gathering place for the Rocklin area Finns.
Early Union Granite Company Quarry
If you go to the corner of Rocklin Road and Granite Drive, you will see a lake that is in front of the Placer/Rocklin library. This lake fills a quarry operated in the early 20th century by the Union Granite Company under the management of Finnish immigrant Matt Ruhkala. Business at Rocklin’s granite operations flourished in the 1890s and very early 20th century, but competition from building materials other than granite attenuated the industry’s growth after 1905. Nevertheless, the Union Granite quarry and several other quarries continued to produce granite curbing and stone for buildings and monuments until at least 1915. Earlier, starting in 1903, Ruhkala had operated a quarry east of the Rocklin cemetery. It is now under the westbound lanes of Interstate 80.
The Rocklin Cemetery is at the corner of South Grove Street and Kannasto Street. Tradition is that the cemetery started, probably on a day in the 1850s, when a local citizen fell dead and was buried on the spot after a day of inebriation. A kiosk, near the cemetery entrance, maps the burial locations of several people who were important in Rocklin’s history.
Finnish Temperance Hall
Finn Hall is at the corner of Rocklin Road and South Grove Street. As the granite industry flourished in Rocklin in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so did Rocklin’s saloons. Released from the strictures of Finland’s state church, and craving relaxation after hard days in the quarries, some Finns developed worrisome drinking problems. Concerned family members established Rocklin’s Finnish Temperance Society and built Finn Hall for social functions in 1905. In her 1967 memoirs, Helen Kesti remembered that granite blocks for the steps and foundation were donated by Finnish quarry owners. Kesti’s father and his friends could name the source of every block and whose team of horses delivered it.
This quarry is on Winding Lane, about 200 yards west of South Grove Street. Mary Quinn and her children took control of this quarry in 1874 after Mary’s husband fell to his death from a hoist to the quarry rocks below. The family operated the quarry until the mid 1890s. In the 1930s, this quarry supplied granite for the Monterey breakwater. It was once, and occasionally still is, one of Rocklin’s favorite swimming holes.
Rocklin City Hall
This building is at 3980 Rocklin Road. Adolf Pernu, owner of Rocklin’s early 20th Century California Granite Company, built it in 1912 as a company store for his employees. The 1912 date is inscribed in a granite frontispiece over the front entrance. Pernu died in a quarry accident in Sequoia National Park in 1931, and as Rocklin’s quarry businesses faltered with the Great Depression, Pernu’s creditors took possession of the building. The City of Rocklin bought this building from a successor owner in 1941, and it has been Rocklin’s City Hall since then. Rocklin’s old timers remember that Rocklin’s library occupied the first floor in the early 1940s with City Council meetings were on the second floor. Businessman Chung Moon arrived in California in 1912 from Hawaii and operated a market in the building from some time before 1930 until the late 1930s. His family occupied the second floor until they purchased the home of Dr. Henry Fletcher across the street. Today, the Fletcher home is the site of the Rocklin History Museum.
Capitol Quarry (known as the Big Gun
This granite quarry is behind the city office building at 3970 Rocklin Road. To get the best view of the quarry pit and the granite processing sheds on the northwest quarry rim, go to the second floor exterior stairwell landing of that office building. This quarry opened in September 1864, supplying granite for California’s State Capitol Building. From 1905 until the early 1930s, it was the primary quarry of the California Granite Company. From 1933 until 1977, it was the largest quarry operated by the Ruhkala family’s Union Granite Company. This quarry operated until 2005 when it was the last of Rocklin’s 62 quarries to cease operations. The seven acres at this site belongs to the Rocklin Redevelopment Agency which, as of 2011, is advocating demolition of the processing sheds.
Rocklin History Museum
This building is at 3895 Rocklin Road at the corner of San Francisco Street. Dr. Henry Fletcher was Rocklin’s town doctor in 1905, boom times for Rocklin. He built this building as his home and office at about that time. The Rocklin Historical Society saved this building from demolition in 2001, restoring it to house Rocklin’s only public museum in 2002. Exhibits are based on Rocks, Rails, and Ranches in Rocklin’s history. The museum is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 to 4 PM.
Brigham and Hawes Quarry
This quarry is on the west side of Pacific Street behind the tire store near the corner of Pacific Street and Farron Road. Rock climbers practice on the granite boulders at the south rim. Rocklin old timers know this quarry as Rocklin’s oldest, but quarrying operations here predate their memories. A plaque at the site says that quarry operations started here in 1861. Since this quarry borders Rocklin’s rail corridor, it was probably a primary source of the granite used in construction of the transcontinental railroad after tracks reached Rocklin from Sacramento in 1864. This is a deep quarry but it is filled with trash, including a few junk cars and the refuse of lumber processors that bordered on the north and south rims in the mid-20th century.
Rocklin’s Railroad Depot
This new depot, built in 2007, is on Rocklin Road beside the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Rocklin Road. Rocklin’s original depot, built about 1867, was at this same location; it included a telegraph office and John Sweeney’s saloon. A freight depot was on the opposite side of the tracks. That original depot burned down in 1891. A second depot, built at this spot that same year, was demolished in 1940, a victim of Rocklin’s faltering economy. Notice that the new depot is just a few yards southeast of the site of Rocklin’s now-demolished railroad roundhouse. See the plaque by the sidewalk in front of Crossroads Church.
Rocklin’s Roundhouse Site
Rocklin’s roundhouse was at the intersection of Front Street and Rocklin Road east of today’s Crossroads Church. A plaque near the remnants of the west facing roundhouse wall marks the spot. The Roundhouse opened in May 1867 to service extra engines that trains needed on the 90-mile strain to the Sierra summit. It included 28 engine stalls, a turntable, and an 78,000 square foot woodshed. In 1908, the railroad moved all roundhouse operations to Roseville, and the Rocklin facility closed permanently. In its heyday, just prior to its move to Roseville, Rocklin’s roundhouse employed 300 people with a monthly payroll of $25-$30,000 . A report from the time asserts that, from 1906 through 1908, while the roundhouse was closing, Rocklin’s population declined by 80%. This is probably an exaggeration since this was also a time when Rocklin’s granite quarries were busy providing curbstone and granite blocks to re-build San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906.
Saint Mary’s Chapel
This Chapel is at 5251 Front Street, across from the granite Barudoni Building. It was originally on an oak framed lot at 5420 Front Street, dedicated there in 1883 as Saint Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church. The Rocklin Historical Society moved the building in 2005 and restored it to save it from demolition. Now, it is primarily a non-denominational wedding chapel. Woodpeckers and foul weather toppled Saint Mary’s steeple in 1937 and thieves ran off with the bell. The restoration includes a replica of the steeple. Today’s bell is on loan from Rocklin’s Community Covenant Church. Each bride pulls the rope to toll the bell as she leaves the Chapel after her wedding ceremony.
The granite Joseph Barudoni building is at 5250 Front Street, across from the Old Saint Mary’s Chapel. Meat broker Joseph Barudoni built it in 1905 as a meat market with an upstairs office for Doctor Woodbridge. It was later a feed store and even later an antique shop. It is now a recording studio. In 1954, the owner extracted granite blocks from the upper walls to construct a gas station in Ophir. The station is demolished now and the blocks are strewn about the nearby Ophir landscape. Subsequent owners of the building have filled the upper wall gaps with wooden framing. Notice the remnants of the cantilevered granite steps on the exterior of the north wall leading to Doctor Woodbridge’s office.
This white farmhouse is at 5200 Front Street at the west end of Rocklin Road. Anders Wickman acquired this home in 1919 from the estate of William Huff who had built it in 1886. Wickman’s grandson, Gene Johnson, restored it in 1999 and occupies it today with his wife Margaret. The Wickman and Johnson families operated a farm and dairy on the surrounding property, including the property now covered by Johnson Springview Park to the south and Springview Middle School to the north.
This spring is at the north end of Johnson Springview Park, 200 yards east of the Springview Middle School soccer field. You can access the spring from Fifth Street via the footpath at the north side of the Wickman-Johnson home. The spring was a widely known Rocklin curiosity and source of clean drinking water in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A nearly cluster of 88 bedrock mortars and about 4 acres of gently sloping terrain, partly covered by Springview Middle School’s soccer field, tell that the area was formerly home to a large community of native Nisenan. According to archeologists Norm Wilson and Arlean Towne, the rising slope at the west side of the bedrock mortars, called a “midden”, covers the refuse of more than 1500 years of Nisesan seasonal encampments.
These three homes are near the Wickman-Johnson house at the corner of Rocklin Road and Fifth Street. All are private residences. Matt and Molly Moore built the Queen Anne style house on the SE corner during 1905, the year of their marriage. Matt was the Southern Pacific RR Station Agent; Molly was a schoolteacher and the pianist at Saint Mary’s of the Assumptin Catholic Church, now Old Saint Mary’s Chapel on Front Street. The Scribner family occupied the ornate home on the NW corner. They owned Scribner’s Hardware. Their store was just south of the Barudoni building on Front Street.
Whitney Mansion Stained-Glass Windows and Front
The windows and doors are located at Rocklin Golf Club, corner of Midas Avenue and Rawhide Drive. The doors are the Club’s entry doors, and the windows are located in the lounge bar. This facility is open to the public during normal business hours. Although the mansion, built in 1885, has been demolished, several remnants, including those hand-made windows have been preserved. The mansion, known as “The Oaks”, was located to the northwest on an estate of 20,000 acres.
Clover Valley Bridge
This bridge spans Clover Valley Creek in Clover Valley Park, which is near the corner of Midas Avenue and Clover Valley Road. It is one of 12 granite bridges on the road that connected Joel Parker Whitney’s Spring Valley Ranch with downtown Rocklin. Whitney built this and the other bridges in the mid 1880s at a total cost of $6,826. The granite is from an unknown source although it is close in appearance to the granite of the Griffith Quarry in Penryn and to some of the granite outcroppings in the northern parts of the ranch. From this bridge, the road mounted the steep ridge to the west via a switchback and proceeded down the west slope and then on to the rear of today’s Granite Oaks Middle School, and then over relatively flat terrain to Whitney’s Oaks Mansion above today’s Mansion Oaks Park, and then beyond toward Penryn.
Joel Parker Whitney’s Oaks Mansion
In the mid 1880s, Joel Parker Whitney set aside 40 acres of his 20,000 acre Spring Valley Ranch for a baronial estate for his young family. His mansion, called The Oaks, was at the end of Knoll Court in the Mansion Oaks neighborhood of Rocklin. The Horseshoe Cattle Company demolished it in the early 1950s to save taxes. A plaque in front of a private residence on Knoll Court marks the spot. Front entrance doors at Old Saint Mary’s Chapel on Front Street are from the Whitney estate.
Joel Parker Whitney’s Pyramid Tomb
This tomb is near the 11th green of the Whitney Oaks Golf Course, to the north of Monument Park. In January 1913, Joel Parker Whitney, called Parker then, died at Del Monte, California after a long bout with kidney disease. He was 78 years old. His family entombed his remains in this pyramid-shaped mausoleum which he had built for his family and himself. The pyramid is now an often-photographed curiosity. It is constructed of granite blocks and just about 15 feet keyword from Joe’s Fort, a 40-foot diameter enclosure of piled rocks and native-granite boulders. The boulders show bedrock mortars where Nisenan women and children ground acorns into mush until the early 19th century.
Source: Rocklin Historical Society.