Clover Valley was once a part of the Citrus Colony

Rocks, Rails and Ranches
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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Editor?s Note: This is the third in a three-part series covering the history of Clover Valley. After California outlawed hydraulic gold mining in 1884, enabling clean water for irrigation, Joel Parker Whitney and neighboring ranchers subdivided 5,000 acres, along the Rocklin-to-Newcastle corridor, including most of Clover Valley, and formed the Placer County Citrus Colony. The colony incorporated in 1888 for the purpose of selling small citrus ranches, most of about 10 acres, to Europeans, mainly Englishmen. Remnants of Citrus Colony ranches in Clover Valley are sparse, although one resident remembers a colony orange tree on her Clover Valley property that survived until a frosty night in the 1970s. During the 20th century the northern mile and a half of Clover Valley developed into mostly rural residential housing. Dense residential development of Clover Valley started in 1963 when Sunset International Petroleum Corporation bought the southern 12,000 acres of the Whitney Ranch, including the valley, and started to build an upscale and self-contained city named Sunset City near Rocklin. During the mid-1960?s, Sunset built and sold homes on the eastern floor of the valley along a one-half mile long strip northward from the valley?s foot at Midas Avenue. But Sunset abandoned their plan when lot and home sales lagged in the mid-1960s. Development of Clover Valley?s southern end remained on hiatus until other developers built more than a mile northward along both sides of the valley in the 1970s. Expensive homes now cover this property. Today about 640 undeveloped acres in the middle of Clover Valley are in the path of the Sacramento region?s attenuated population boom and the Bickford Ranch development impinges on the valley near the Clover Valley Reservoir. Clover Valley started to form five million years ago. Prehistoric people were in the Rocklin area for at least 7,000 years and they pique our curiosity. The Valley was a catalyst for development of South Placer County?s agriculture and it was an important part of Rocklin?s expansion into Joel Parker Whitney?s Spring Valley Ranch. Clover Valley is a permanent asset of our community and its future.