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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tucked away and nearly forgotten

On my husband's day off, we like to get out and about and just take a drive. Go where ever the road leads and as you know take the long way , or make wrong turns. This week , since we had done so well on our grocery bill, and well we really needed a day out of the apartment to decompress, we decided to explore the Delta Region of Northern California.

For a drive of about 45 minutes with traffic , and most on back country roads ( Hwy 160) amongst fields of various crops , old houses mixed with new to "ohhh and awwww" over , and always the Delta River running along side you will start to see little towns crop up. Towns that unless you live along the Delta , or mistakenly took the exit that seems of interest, or well looked it up , would never know about.

We drove this day through Freeport , very near Clarksburg , but across the river from it ( we could see The Old Sugar Mill that I blogged about last week) . A not so booming town of 125 people according to the sign, but we did not know where they were, as we saw no one. It was followed by Hood, 234 people by last count, and must be known for the pears they grow there, as there was orchards on both sides! But our destination, at least the first of many was Locke.

Here is a brief history as found on the website for Locke :
Brief History:

Locke was founded in 1915 after a fire broke out in the Chinese section of nearby Walnut Grove. The Chinese who lived in that area decided that it was time to establish a town of their own. A committee of Chinese merchants, led by Lee Bing, Chan Hing Sai, Tom Wai, Chan Dai Kee, Ng So Hat, Chan Wai Lum, Chow Hou Bun, and Suen Dat Suin was formed. They approached land owner George Locke and inquired if they could build on his land. An agreement was reached. The town was laid out by Chinese architects and industrious building ensued. The founding of Lockeport, later 'Locke', was a reality. By 1920 Locke stood essentially as you see it now.

Levee construction originally brought the Chinese to this area, but by the time Locke was built most of the work was in farm labor. Locke had many businesses that catered to the farm workers and residents of this region. In the 1940's restaurants, bakeries, herb shops, fish markets, gambling halls, boarding houses, brothels, grocery stores, a school, clothing stores, and the Star Theatre lined the bustling streets of Locke. At its peak 600 residents, and as many as 1500 people occupied the town of Locke.

On August 2, 1970, Locke was added to the registry of national historical places, by the Sacramento County Historical Society, because of its unique status as the only town in the United States built exclusively by the Chinese for the Chinese.

Locke is no tourist trap, nor is it a ghost town. Its unusual, out-of-the-way charm is genuine. Perhaps it is this authenticity, without any hypocritical overtones, which brings so many out of town visitors to its doors.
Currently, there are between 70 to 80 people live in Locke. Chinese population is down to about ten. * see web site for more history

We found a place to park under a tall tree and next to some mail boxes along HWY 160
And up the street from the Locke Garden Chinese restaurant...I am so going back for that one day!

And took a stroll down the street, snapping pictures of the old buildings and secret passages. One place had a satellite dish...I have no idea how they would live in such a place.

This is the street view of the Memorial Garden

We found a side street to be able to walk down , right next to the refurbished , and looks like soon to open Visitors center

Just to the right side of this is Main street.

On the corner is the Locke Chinese School Museum ( established in 1926) , where young children where taught English. I am sure you can find a brief history on the web site. There was a recording for you to listen to when you walked in, and was free , but asked for a donation.

Across the street from that was the Chinese Cultural Shop...more of a gift store, but it was fun to poke in for a bit.

We walked along the street taking pictures of the shops, and homes that made up the town of Locke ( or at least part of it) , and snapped pictures of long forgotten and still operated businesses, and an old barn and hidden path as well..there are many in Locke with tiny gardens we did not take a pic of was Connie's Toilet Bowl Garden , a garden lined with toilet basins that were filled with plants . These belong to past residents.

Al the Wops Saloon and Restaurant , whose early operations included a brothel .

This little shop above was called Strange day when I have a bit more money to spend, I just know I shall find a treasure in this little gem!
We found the other side of the Memorial Garden's, someone cares enough to keep it very well time I hope to spend more quality time just in the gardens of the town and share the splendor that is there. What a wonderful reason to seek this town out again! The garden is dedicated to the Chinese who built the railroad , levees and agriculture of California and the town of Locke .

Of course we had to go in the Museum .

It is an exhibit of Chinese gambling paraphernalia ,and also had quite a bit of the local Delta region history of the towns and people that populated it in days gone by. Here is just a sample, and it too is free, but asks for a donation.

I could not help but take a picture of the sign pointing to this wall....

And I just loved all the old historic photographs!!

I also loved the miniatures in this case .... wish I had a pen with me to take notes to tell you what it depicts...guess you will have to go there if you can! I keep thinking it was scenes from a war...but do not quote me!!

Before we left Locke to head to the next little town on our list , we could not resist playing around a bit.....after all it was free too!( well plus donation)

Wishing now that hubby had told me to turn to the side so it would look more real LOL !!!! Tomorrow, or maybe Saturday...really depends on my mood ( I have the birthday grumpies) , a tiny peek into a few of the other places we passed before we detoured into Napa ( a BIG one) for a bite to eat and a glass of wine to finish the day.....Till then....


  1. Too fun..I love your little family adventures!

  2. This is amazing! I have totally heard of Locke and yet from the pics I can guarantee i have never been there! so crazy how close we are to so many fabulous old towns!

  3. Hi Stephanie, Is it possible I can use some of your Locke photos for the foundation website? Great photos. we would credit you of course!

  4. Hello Windup ... YES, feel free to use my photos. I would be honored and to get a little nod my direction would be awesome!

  5. Oh and just saw that I should have said " Yes Angie" LOL .. do call me Ruby... I hardly answer to Stephanie .. have an amazing day!


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