Wednesday Nov 30 2011
Rocklin's legacy is built with granite
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
Rocks, Rails and Ranches
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series on the industry that put Rocklin on the map. Downtown Rocklin is built astride a 100-square-mile belt of high quality and easily accessible granite that extends from Folsom to Lincoln. Assisted by easy access to rail shipping, granite mining and the creation of finished granite products formed the backbone of Rocklin’s economy from the mid-1860s until the early 1920s. The industry’s heyday began with the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific started laying rails eastward from Sacramento in early 1863. By early 1864 they had crossed the valley floor and were preparing to ascend the western Sierra. On March 21 of that year, the Sacramento Union reported that more than half of the members of the state Legislature and many of their friends “traveled by train 22 miles to the new granite quarry at the end of the tracks.” They detrained there and children gathered wild flowers while “grave legislators and solid men” gathered at the quarry rim “conversing learnedly and geologically” while “matrons and maidens wandered off among trees and rocky knolls according to their own sweet will.” The name “Rocklin” didn’t appear in print until about three months later when it was listed as a passenger stop in a railroad timetable. But the un-named and idyllic spot in the Union article was probably Rocklin, and the quarry was probably one of the two pits near Pacific Street and Farron. Those pits abut the railroad’s main line and quarrying operations in the area predate the memories of Rocklin’s old timers. Gary Day is a member of the Rocklin Area Historical Society.