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12 bridges built on Whitney Estate

Rocks, Rails and Ranches
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series focusing on the 12 bridges built by J. Parker Whitney in the 1880s. In the early 1880s Joel Parker Whitney, who preferred being called Parker, set aside 40 acres of his 20,000 acre Spring Valley Ranch to build a baronial estate for his wife, Lucy and their two small children. Parker and Lucy shared a love of the English culture and developed the estate with English themes. This affinity for all things English would later motivate Parker to develop the Placer County Citrus Colony, a project to attract Englishmen to the area to buy citrus ranches north and east of the ranch in Clover Valley, Penryn and Loomis. Parker flattened about five acres on a knoll overlooking the ranch’s headquarters and started construction of “The Oaks” mansion in 1884, the same year the couple welcomed their third child and only daughter, Helen Beryl Whitney. Parker built tennis courts and set aside 4,200 acres for English-style fox and rabbit hunts. Later he surrounded The Oaks with a golf course. Between 1883 and 1888, Parker’s records show he spent $6,826.46 on creating stone bridges throughout the estate. Although Parker didn’t leave a map showing the location of the 12 bridges, his brother, James, developed a map of the Citrus Colony in the early 1890s. That map shows the road that Richard Miller describes in his Parker Whitney biography “Fortune Build by Gun” as well as the creek crossings which the bridges would have to span. Those creek crossings closely approximate the locations of the bridges in today’s landscape... Next week: Where are the 12 bridges today? If you are interested in learning more about or want to help preserve Rocklin’s history, consider joining the Rocklin Area Historical Society. For more information, call 624-2355.