Monday, May 3, 2010

Niles - A Timeline

Sweetpeas and roses growing in my front yard.

I always put a timeline together before I start writing a paper or article; it helps me synthesize information from various sources and often makes connections more obvious. It also usually shows me what information I should still be looking for, so it is well worth the time it takes to create it. This timeline got longer than I anticipated because I am linking the railroad and nursery aspects of Niles’s past to Niles’s present and future, therefore I had to look beyond the 1860s-1930s timeframe I had originally envisioned. Seeing how many other additional businesses and commerce were in and around Niles beyond the railroad and nurseries has let me better understand the bustling community Niles was for most of the twentieth century, and how limited today’s businesses and commerce are in comparison. The reliance on the railroad as a part of Niles’s past to bring people into the area to visit today’s concerns—most of which are antique or collectible shops, and the three or four restaurants and cafes--is quite clear.

Now I can see how my experience of living in Niles for the past year compares to Laurie's experience of spending her entire life here. She saw her father work for the Pacific Steel Compnay and be an active union man. She grew up with shops and stores that served the community's needs. There are still a handful of them within Niles but they have definitely been eclipsed by the antique and collectible stores. I do wonder how much of this change is caused by the inevitable results of American society changing, e.g. Mom and Pop stores getting replaced by super-sized grocery stores and individual businesses getting supplanted by shopping malls. Although Laurie feels she is looking to Niles's future, could she also be longing for Niles to return to the past of her childhood?

Niles Timeline

1776 – de Anza crosses Alameda Creek

1797 – Mission San Jose founded; immense garden started following year from Santa Clara Valley cuttings

1821 – Mexico gains independence from Spain

1834 – start of mission secularization

1835 - Don Jose y Jesus Vallejo made administrator of Mission San Jose

1841/42 – Don Jose y Jesus Vallejo granted 17,705-acre ranch (Rancho Arroyo de Alameda); Vallejo built an adobe grist mill (Vallejo’s father engineer of several mission irrigation systems)(JJ is Mariano Vallejo’s nephew)

1842 - JJ built adobe about a mile from the mill on what became CA N Co land; adobe is still there today

1846 – John C. Fremont orders food and supplies commandeered from VM (Bear Flag Revolt)

1846 – Mormon John Horner arrived, bought land adjacent to Mission San Jose (today’s Union City), begins growing wheat and fruit; “Fast transportation is the key to a successful economy,” est. steamship and stage delivery to SF and SJ

1846-48 – War with Mexico; discovery of gold

1849 - Gold Rush!

1850s-1860s – squatters on Vallejo’s land; 145 lawsuits over land ownership; many seeds, cuttings and grafts made from Mission garden plants by squatters

1850 – 1st vineyards planted; CA made a state

1851 – Land Act

1853 – prefab Gothic-style houses arrive via Cape Horn; Alameda County formed; Sim and Flint plant 1st orchards in Niles (apples, peaches, pears, plums); Nichols obtains trees from east, plants next to Sum and Flint

1854 – Sim plants his 1st orange trees, Nichols pears

1856 – Vallejo builds a second mill; the foundation is still standing in Vallejo Mills Park; Lucy and James Shinn arrive to manage brother-in-law Dr. Joseph Clark’s 250 acres purchased from Sim; Shinns eventually gain title to 150 acres from Clark

1858 – Vallejo’s ranch confirmed by James Buchanan, but many acres sold to pay court costs

1860 - Civil War started; Overackers arrived

1861 – Alameda Creek flooded; adjacent properties under 3 feet of water

1865-66 – Western Pacific RR constructed from San Jose to Farwell (1/2 way point in Niles Canyon)

1867 – Shinn place expanded to 300 acres; Shinn and Clark form partnership to start nursery with import trade from Asia, demo Japanese garden on property

1868 – 1st gravel mining operation

1869 – last transcontinental link RR terminus in Niles (Leland Stanford) true “last spike” driven in at Niles 8 Sept 1869; RR leases mills for a year while track was laid, rebuilt aquaduct with masaonry; Vallejo’s son subdivides 23 small plats around mills and other bldgs = Vallejo Mills

1870 - 1st Central Pacific train depot, called the Niles Station after CPRR attorney

1870s –wagon bridge built over Alameda Creek, 1st school at VM

1873 – 1st Niles post office (at general store)

1876 – Shinns built family home after 20 years living in Sim cottage

1879 – 1st garden book in CA (Shinn’s Pacific Rural Handbook)

1880s – 1st church; grist mill closed, 1st town hall

1882 – Harrison Mayhew buys land next to VM; orange orchard on top of old corrals (excellent effect from manured soil)

1883 – 1st female editor CA lit journal (Milicent Shinn)

1884 – 1st horticultural agribusiness (CA Nursery Co est, by John Rock and 3 partners; Vallejo adobe used as fumigating house); Southern Pacific RR Co created, formally registers Niles town plat (separate from VM, now “Old Town”)

1888 – town of Niles platted

1889 – Niles Grammar School built

1894 – 1st big freeze to impact local orchards; puts end to orange growing in area

1897 – Niles Canyon Picnic Grounds est. with dance pavilion, restaurant, bath house (indoor swimming pool), dock for boats

1898 – 1st female PhD UC-Berkeley (Milicent Shinn)

1900s – 1st free library, bank and movie theater

1901 – Fernbrook Park (Niles Canyon); at some point Stonybrook Park (old Farwell stop in Canyon) created for daytrippers

1901 or 1904 – Southern Pacific depot at Niles built (accounts vary)

1904 – John Rock dies

1910s – 1st grammar school, kindergarten

1911 – Alameda Creek flooded; 1st Niles rental flats built by Italian Manuel Domenici; Niles Jail built

1912 – 1st movie studios in N. CA (Essanay Studio leases a barn for a year)

1913 – Essanay builds their own studio on Front St. with bungalows on 2nd St.; Edison Theater built (today home of Essanay Museum)

1914 – WWI started

1915 – Niles Day at Panama Pacific International Expo; Niles Courthouse built

1916 – Essanay relocates to Hollywood

1917 – Alameda Creek flooded; eroded southern banks where Italian truck gardens were located; George Roeding bought CA Nursery Co

1920s – Dickey Mastertile and Kraftile (on old CA N Co land)

1924 – 1st poultry genetics-breeding farm; Niles Theater opened

1926 – NILES letters go up on hillside above town

1929 – Niles Veteran Hall dedicated (2nd St.); Stock Market crashes

1930 – 1st chain garden retail stores; Niles-Alvarado Rd. cuts through to Niles; George Rodeing restores JJ Vallejo’s adobe

1932 – Joe’s Corner built with Kraftiles

1933 – worst year of the Great Depression

1937 – entry gateways built (overpasses); WPA project

1938 – Pacific States Steel Corp. under construction; union office in Niles

1939-ground broken for 3rd Niles Grammar School (2nd St.)

1940s – last passenger train stopped in Niles; 1st sighting of Niles Canyon ghost

1941 – Pearl Harbor; official Am involvement WWII

1947 – Florence Mayhew Shinn takes over Shinn Nurseries with son Joseph until 1967

1950s – 1st female town council, 1st Essanay Days Parade

1955 – last Alameda Creek flood

1956 – Fremont incorporates five towns, incl. Niles

1959 – Niles Theater burnt down

1960s – 1st Annual Niles flea market; Army Corps of Engineers started re-designing Alameda Creek into flood-control channel; Niles Community Park opened

1962 – FMShinn gives property for Shinn Park to city

1970 – 1st fabridam on waterway (Alameda Creek); used to divert creek into recharge ponds

1972 – Niles community effort to save Vallejo adobe; Roeding gave 20 acres of land for park

1978 – Pacific Steel factory closed (largest # employees = 450)

1970s – last CA Zephyr train run

1984 – Niles Depot moved down Mission Blvd.; Niles Canyon Railway track built to replace torn out SPPR track

1987 – Niles Canyon Railways started running tourist trains between Niles and Sunol through Niles Canyon

1990 – reconstruction of NILES letters; big freeze

1990s – 1st Niles Dog Show, Bronco Billy Film Festival, Wildflower and Art Festival

late 1990s – last to-pick apricot orchard closed

1995 – last gravel pit closed; regrading of pits allowed Niles Cone aquifers to recharge and help supply water to area

1996 – Kraftile closed

2000 – Quarry Lakes opened as a park

2002 – metal graphic banners installed; part of Laurie’s Disneyland complaint?

2004 – WWI Memorial Flagpole reconstructed

2010 – SPPR depot moved back to Niles Blvd., Niles Central Plaza completed; Niles firehouse rebuilt from old bldg., made to look old with more metal graphic panels installed on building side, definitely part of Laurie’s Disneyland complaint

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