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Why Did They Name It That? Area Street Names, Part 1

By Kathy Brown, Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum/Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society

Priest Gas Station

During the early days of the 1849 Gold Rush which brought the first non-indigenous people to our area, there were no roads to Groveland and Big Oak Flat. Though Savage's Diggings, as this area was originally called, was suddenly inundated with thousands of miners, only mule trails existed to lead them to the top of “The Grade”, Big Oak Flat and Garrote, known since 1875 as Groveland. Slowly, through the intervening years, stage roads, ranch roads, and then automobile roads were developed. 1967 saw the beginning of the development of Pine Mountain Lake and a whole web of new streets were built to take people to their homes within PML. How and why were these area roads and streets were named is an often asked question for our museum docents.

So this month instead of the usual history article for Taking You Back in History, I have prepared a list of our area's street names with the significance of each name. As you will see, the majority of our area's roadways are names of early local families or individual people. Dave Gookin tells us that when Boise Cascade was developing Pine Mountain Lake, within which the majority of local streets lie, they looked through the definitive book on local history at that time to choose many of the names - The Big Oak Flat Road written in 1955 by authors Irene Paden and and Margaret Schlichtmann. Sometimes is difficult to know if a name honors one particular member of a family or perhaps the whole family.

PML Main Gate 1969

Here are some of our street name origins.

Baird - Charlie Baird, early area wilderness guide, teamster, mail delivery; owner of the Baird Livery and Hotel in Groveland; leased the Groveland Hotel; a deputy and patrolman in Hetch Hetchy construction era in Groveland for the city of San Francisco in the 1930s.

Beck - Brothers Ernie and Alf, ranch owners off Elder Lane; Ernie's avocation photographer, credited with many early area photos; worked in Hetch Hetchy Warehouse as clerk record keeper in Groveland.

Black - family named Black lived on this street in Big Oak Flat.

Boitano - Gold Rush immigrants, multi-generation ranchers, with vegetables and orchards in Deer Flat area and off Ferretti Rd.

Cassaretto Court - Cassarettos, early Groveland store owners, their first store was what is now Helping Hands, their second store is now Groveland Community Hall, the family home is between those two buildings; family still active in Groveland.

Chaffee Circle & Chamberlain Lane - John Chaffee and Jason Chamberlain came to the Gold Rush together in 1850, the miners, lived as companions and partners, most of their life in a home they built in Second Garrote with noted orchards and gardens; highly respected in community; often mentioned in diaries of travelers whom they welcomed to overnight on their property; Bret Hart's story, Tennessee’s Partner, is said to be modeled after them.

Clements - Cattle and Turkey rancher near PML stables; one of the ranch’s bought to create PML.

Corcoran Gray - links Gray and Corcoran ranches in Groveland Deer Flat area, son Dan Corcoran married Margaret Priest’s niece and helped run Priest Station in Margaret Priest’s late years and after her death; Grays were farmers and ranchers, ancestors of John Gray who was Groveland County Commissioner and is still active in the community.

Crocker - Crocker family built and ran Crocker Station near Yosemite entrance.

Dunn Court - Dunn, rancher and early area doctor, first doctor at Hetch Hetchy Hospital, ranch became part of PML.

Elder Way - Elder family, owner of one of the the ranches at the original end of the road.

Ferretti - Sal Ferretti owned ranch now part of PML in late 1800s part of PML, the Lake Lodge was ranch barn; raised cattle hogs, etc., had first meat market where Top of the Trail Tea & Coffee is now and second one where Serendipity is.

Foote - Matthew Foot, first owner of adobe core of Groveland Hotel which he converted from a general store to a hotel.

Fox - Barney Fox, one of the '49er miners in Groveland, carpenter, IOOF, lived in area until he was 103.

Please look for the continuation of this list in a couple weeks to see the rest of the alphabet of historical names' sources and non-historical names.

Taking You Back in History is provided by the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society (STCHS) and the Groveland Gateway Museum. The Museum is open Friday - Sunday 10a - 2p


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