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.