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Rocks, Rails & Ranches

How did Rocklin get its name?

Finns, rock quarry theories considered
By: Gary Day, special to the Placer Herald
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Our city’s name first appeared in print in June 1864, when Rocklin was listed in a Central Pacific Railroad timetable as a stop between Junction (now Roseville) and Pino (now Loomis). But how did the name Rocklin originate? And if the coiners wanted to recognize the rock of our granite outcroppings and quarries, why didn’t they name our city more conventionally with something like Rockland or Graniteville

The origin of Rocklin’s name is a mystery but there are theories, and in the coming weeks we will examine five of them. 

Probably the most common theory about the origin of Rocklin’s name is the one ex-pressed in at least one of Rocklin’s written histories – that Rocklin is a corruption of an original designation of Rockland.

This theory is easily dismissed because Rocklin appears correctly spelled in the 1864 railroad time table.

“The theory that Rocklin is a corruption of Rockland raises the question: Why would the railroad purposely misspell Rockland?” said Rocklin historian Gene Johnson.

Also, according to Rocklin historian and former mayor Roy Ruhkala, Rocklin has never been known as Rockland. Ruhkala quickly points out, however that in his experience on the Rocklin City Council, city offices sometimes received mail erroneously addressed to Rockland, California.

A related theory about Rocklin’s name is that it is a corruption of a Finnish equivalent of Rockland. This theory arises be-cause Finns dominated Rocklin’s social, commercial and industrial culture during the late 19th century and into the mid-20th century. They developed a Finnish and English combination language they call Finnliska. The theory is that Rocklin might be the Finnliska version of Rockland.

“Not true” Ruhkala said. “Rocklin has no meaning in either Finnish or Finnliska other than the name of our city.”

But there will be more on a possible connection to the Finns next week.

Next week: It could have been our granite castles.