Marking Lindsay’s place in history
A century before there was a city, the area of Lindsay lied along the route of several historic expeditions, served as a major trail of travel for gold rushers and travelers. Its location on this route led to the City’s development as the first citrus groves of what would become California’s citrus belt and later the olive processing hub of the world.
Because of Lindsay’s location along this historical route through the Central Valley, historians with E. Clampus Vitus, better known as the Clampers, presented a bronze plaque denoting the city’s significance at the Aug. 13 Lindsay City Council meeting.
Matt Richardson, a member of the Dr. Samuel Gregg Greorge Chapter of the Clampers, said the group has placed over 35 historical markers in Tulare County since it was formed in 1974.
The plaque reads as follows: “Lindsay, the EarlyYears: What follows is a list of noteworthy events and travelers who used an Indian trail on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, which was shown on early maps of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road, and included the area known today as the City of Lindsay.”
Some of the highlights include the following historic accounts:
In 1806 Gabriel Moraga was among the first Europeans to lay eyes on the San Joaquin Valley. He led an expedition of Spanish soldiers through the valley from San Francisco to Los Angeles. He is credited with naming many of the areas geographic boundaries and namesakes including the San Joaquin River, Sacramento River, Merced River, Calaveras River, Mariposa River and Chowchilla River.
In 1826, Jedidah Smith led a commercial group of trappers and fur traders into the Central Valley along the edge of the foothills near Lindsay. He was the first U.S. citizen to cross the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. Smith cartography and explorations played a key role in opening up the West, including the San Joaquin Valley, to white settlers.
From 1844-1846, John C. Fremont, military governor of California, traveled the route with this guide Kit Carson during his expedition of the Sierra Nevada. Several guidses for gold-rushers were based on his expeditions and also served as legal documents to help settlers navigate the process of rightfully claiming land. Fremont was also the first presidential candidate of the fledgling Republican Party.
From 1849-1860, countless gold rushers traveled through Lindsay up and down a route known as the Stockton-Los Angeles Road. The same route was later used by portions of the Buttefield Overland Stage Company.
In 1886, George Stockton Berry became the first steam-powered traction harvesting machine to harvest the vast, large scale wheat fields owned by Berry and his brother William and fellow farmers Elias Jacob, John J. Cairns and Julieus Orton.
In 1889, Captain Arthur J. Hutchinson is credited as the first to plant citrus in what is now known as the California citrus belt. He also formed the Lindsay Land Company and named the townsite after his daughter, Sadie Lindsay Hutchinson.
In 1890, John J. Cairns developed the first steam-powered water pumping plant used for irrigation. He is considered the father of modern irrigation. In 1899, the Mt. Whitney Power Company developed the first electric substation for large scale irrigation pumping in the United States in what is now downtown Lindsay.
“The exact location of this early road was not precisely known until later maps came out,” Richardson said. “It closely hugged the western slope of the Sierra Nevada and from here angled straight to the Venice Hills area. We know it came right through the City of Lindsay.”
Richardson suggested placing the marker along the main corridor of City Hall because it is well lit area and constantly monitored by public safety. He said the concern was related to the theft of bronze plaques, which can be easily pried from walls and traded in “for a six pack of beer.” He said the Clampers would place the plaque wherever the City wished and would pay for the creation and installation of the marker.
City Councilmember Pam Kimball, who is also president of the Lindsay Cultural Arts Council, suggested placing the plaque at the Lindsay Museum and Art Gallery, which is also located within the City Hall complex next to the Department of Public Safety. Kimball asked the Clampers work with local historian Gary Meling on the location of the marker. The marker’s wording and look were approved unanimously by the City Council.