Rocklin has its own pyramid

Built by Joel Parker whitney, the curiosity located on Whitney Oaks Golf Course
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on Rocklin’s pyramid In January 1913, Joel Parker Whitney, died in Del Monte, California after a long bout with kidney disease. He was 78. Shortly after the funeral, Whitney’s family entombed him next to his mother, Sophia, and his father, George, in a pyramid-shaped mausoleum at his Spring Valley Ranch near Rocklin. The pyramid is an often-photographed curiosity near the 11th green of the Whitney Oaks Golf Course. It is constructed of granite blocks with a white marble interior and juts about 15 feet skyward from 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. An old ranch photo shows that Whitney built the enclosure, which he named The Fort, prior to 1889, perhaps as a play area for his three small children: J. Parker (born 1878), Vincent (born 1880) and Helen Beryl (born 1884). He must have started thinking of The Fort as a potential site for his pyramid mausoleum after the children either lost interest in or outgrew the play area. The pyramid’s granite blocks appear to be from the same quarry as many of the blocks used in construction of Whitney’s 12 granite bridges. Perhaps Whitney contracted the construction of the pyramid with the same group of stone masons who built the bridges. But why did Whitney want to be entombed in a pyramid? Archeologist David Chavez developed a convincing theory about that mystery in his early 1980s Environmental Impact Report for the Stanford Ranch Development Project. And that’s the topic for next week’s column. ________ Rocklin History series, Part 2 What: Why is there no downtown? Who: Daniel DeFoe, Sierra College history professor When: 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 28 Where: Old St. Mary’s Chapel, 5251 Front St. (at Rocklin Road). Admission: Free