Reminisce about Sacramento's history and there is an immediate return to 1848 and the luster of the Gold Rush years, an exciting period that captured the imagination of the world and caused those who were "young at heart" to drop what they were doing and become part of the most electrifying fantasy the world has ever known. The Gold Rush made an instant state out of California, a thriving city out of Sacramento, and served as a monument to a national dream that prevails today.
While the cry is more subdued and the rush is more controlled, a new gold rush to Sacramento is underway. But the modern-day rush is for land, new homes, and new businesses ... as valuable to the congested metropolitan area masses as gold was to the 49'ers.
Nestled in the middle of this modern-day real estate rush is an area that exemplifies the "dreams" that have prevailed in Sacramento land development and today serves as a landmark of future developments - Arden Oaks.
To fully appreciate this modern-day fantasy come true, one has to look at Sacramento just before the time of Marshall's gold discovery at a Coloma sawmill. In 1839 a Swiss immigrant named John Sutter founded the first inland settlement in Northern California. He build his renowned Sutter's Fort which was the only settlement near the Sierras.
Actually, it was shortly after this time that the history of Arden Oaks began. On December 20, 1844 Manuel Micheltorena made a Mexican land grant to Eliab Grimes for 44,374 acres of land that occupied eight miles along the American River and eight-and-one-half miles to the north.
Although a Samuel Morris acquired and held the land from 1852 until selling it in 1870 to Col. James Ben Ali Haggin (1827-1914), records indicate Haggin developed the land. Haggin acquired hundreds of thousands of acres of so-called 'desert land' in the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Kern River valleys on which he proceeded to develop intensive irrigation projects.
In the early 1870's, stockbreeding attracted Haggin's interest. Beginning on a small scale on his Sacramento land, his horse-breeding empire became world-known and eventually extended to his native state of Kentucky where he developed, near Lexington, an immense horse-breeding estate. Between 1881 and 1891 his horses captured most of the great racing trophies in the East and West.
Haggin's "Rancho del Paso" (the Wilhaggin section was named after Haggin and is part of his ranch) evolved into one of the largest horse breeding farms in the world.
In 1909 a number of the Sacramento city fathers, headed by the Chamber of Commerce, encouraged Haggin to consider the need for desirable acreage to offer easterners who were interested in locating in Sacramento.
Sacramento's business community was overjoyed on May 13, 1910 when an announcement was received that a Minneapolis land company had purchased the 44,372-acre "Rancho del Paso" and it would be cut into 10 and 20 acre parcels.
Several prominent Sacramento pioneer families were involved in owning these parcels, such as Theodora Robbins Bucklin, Gallaway and Wright. The horse influence was instrumental in attracting Steve Williams, developer, horseman and pilot, who was looking for land to develop with an appeal for those who loved the open spaces and desired room for horses.
Williams purchased 1,800 acres in 1945 that embraced the Arden Park and Arden Manor sections. He then sold most of the land except 435 acres, which we know today as Arden Oaks.
His dream was to develop estate-size lots bounded with horse trails. On August 16, 1945 this dream evolved with the recording of the 60-lot Arden Oaks, Unit 1, which featured lots ranging from 183 x 200 up to 367 x 724 feet. Between December 1945 and June 1954, Arden Oaks, Units 2 through 6, added close to 200 more lots to the section.
There was such a demand for the estate-size lots (averaging from one to several acres), according to Williams, that all sold in a short time. Later units were divided into smaller land parcels for those who did not have an interest in horse zoning.
The first house was built in 1947-48 and belonged to the Williams family. It was located on the northwest corner of Winding Creek and Maple Glen Road.
Early zoning and controls by the Arden Oaks Homeowner's Association established restrictions which enhanced the value of the area, such as a subdivision restriction which states that no parcel can be divided more than twice, and each lot must contain a minimum of 30,000 square feet.
Today, Arden Oaks has evolved into one of the most desirable North Area locations with a predominance of homes that feature tennis courts, swimming pools, and secluded park-like settings. There is quaintness in street-side mailboxes, a country-type atmosphere prevails, and residents are shielded from the mushrooming residence and commercial development that borders this residential oasis by Watt Avenue, Arden Way and Eastern Avenue.
Only 12 miles from where Sutter's Fort still stands as a landmark of Sacramento's early development, Arden Oaks is a focal point of modern-day living. With a natural environment where pheasant and quail abound, Arden Oaks offers a setting of rambling ranch-style homes, majestic trees and free flowing creeks that eventually make their way to the American River.
An early American spirit still prevails in this pocket community each year when Arden Oaks families band together in support of the Arden Oaks Neighborhood Association's July 4th Extravaganza, which features a parade, contests, and even some spirited oratory.
Residents of Arden Oaks have found their gold mine . . and it's the green of a country setting with the tranquility of sounds of galloping horses and the plunk of a frog in a nearby creek.