Monday, January 16, 2012

Locke, California

On our way to see the Sandhill Cranes we made a stop at Locke.  My dad had a life-long interest in history and had brought the little town to my attention years ago but I had never had the opportunity to visit.

So, you might ask, where is Locke and what is its historic importance.  It sure doesn't look like much.

The little town sits in rural farmland on the Sacramento river south of Sacramento.  Nearby is another small town, Walnut Grove.

After a fire in the Chinese section of Walnut Grove in 1913, the residents decided they needed their own town.  Chinese faced severe discrimination in the California of that day, much as Hispanics do today.  They had come to America to work; they built the railroads, the levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and then worked in the fertile fields of California's Central Valley. 

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 had made it almost impossible for Chinese to emigrate to the US.  This meant that men who wished to stay here had little opportunity to marry and start a family.  They were also prohibited from becoming naturalized citizens and in some cases from owning land.

It's not surprising then that they wanted a place of their own.
Under California law, the Chinese community could not buy land for their town so George Locke leased it to them.
Today many of the buildings on Main Street are in very poor condition.
Other buildings have been restored.

This monument in a small memorial park is dedicated to the early Chinese residents of California.

The inscription in English and Chinese reads:

Dedicated to the industrious
Chinese pioneers of California
Whose strength and sacrifice helped
Build the Transcontinental Railroad,
Construct the Levees of
The Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, and
Develop the agriculture in the Central Valley
With  Determination and Perseverance
The Chinese built the town of Locke and
Continue to shape California.

This gambling hall museum and another museum at the old Chinese school (some men did manage to bring wives to America in spite of the restrictions) show a bit of the life of the residents. The old boarding house has some displays and a few books for sale but is otherwise empty.
Currently only 10 of the 80 or so residents of Locke are ethnic Chinese.  A Chinese restaurant and this Chinese medicine shop still represent the cultural heritage.

To see more views of our world, go to Our World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Arija, Gattina , Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.


Carole DeAngeli said...

A wonderful and informative post. We have a lot to be ashamed of in the way we have treated minorities and immigrants.

eileeninmd said...

Martha, a very interesting post on the town of Locke. The monument is beautiful and is well deserved for the Chinese immigrants who were very hard working people. Thanks for sharing. I also hope to see the cranes. Have a great week!

Linda Reeder said...

What an interesting and historical place. Thanks for telling us its story.

Sylvia K said...

What a terrific and interesting post for the day! I am always embarrassed as an American at our sad history of discrimination. It is at least encouraging to see the monument! Thanks for the history and the wonderful captures, Martha! Have a great week!


Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Very nice photos. I think you just presented me with a day trip for the future. I was aware of the name of the town but did not know of it's speciality. Thank you.

Gaelyn said...

What a fun little piece of history. Hope the falling down buildings get some attention in the future.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the history lesson! Locke does look like an interesting place to visit.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, that is interesting. I like finding little "creases" in history like that.

Gary said...

Great post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Joyful said...

This is interesting, albeit sad history and wonderful photos.

NixBlog said...

Beautiful photos of this fascinating place!

Judy said...

Very interesting!I knew the Chinese were very badly treated in the States, but not that badly! I wonder whether the residents are proud of that heritage, or not. I can see some people coming down on both sides of the fence.

Dianne said...

interesting place to visit
I love the monument

Gemma Wiseman said...

A fascinating post! The gambling hall museum looks so stark but the Chinese medicine establishment looks so bright and cute!

Genie said...

This post really did pull at the old heartstrings. It was beautifully put together with word and pictures. I did not know this part of the Chinese is so sad. I hope there is money to pre.serve the buildings that are falling into serious disrepair genie

Barb said...

An interesting history lesson and look at an old former Chinese town. I'm reading a fiction A THread of Sky that mentions Chinese discrimination in those railroad days.

Luna Miranda said...

a fascinating post. thanks for sharing the story of this historic town. beautiful photos.

Red Nomad OZ said...

SO like Australia - many downunder pioneers weren't appreciated at the time. I hope we're redressing that balance now!

cathy@home said...

Lovely post and amazing history, I can say I have learnt something new today.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A very interesting piece of history there -- I really enjoyed this post. I imagine it was rather poignant to be enjoying something your dad told you about (I've had that experience).

Anonymous said...

Love all the little towns out this way. Perfect for a drive, and browsing.