Woodbridge is a small town that blends the river that defines the Lodi area, old and new homes, the region’s wine country and a bundle of historical buildings in the town’s business area a short distance north of Lodi’s General Mills plant.
“The best thing about Woodbridge is that you have to live someplace else to appreciate it,” said Richard Viall, who lived in San Jose, Reno, Nev., Iowa, St. Louis and Cleveland before moving to Woodbridge in 2000.
“It’s the longest I’ve lived anyplace in my life,” Viall said.
Back in the 19th century, settlers to the area envisioned Woodbridge becoming the big city in the area, but when the railroad tracks were installed between Sacramento and Main streets in 1869, Lodi became the major city.
Much of Woodbridge’s history can be found on Lower Sacramento Road. Check out restaurants like Cactus, Woodbridge Crossing and Woodbridge Inn, not to mention Woodbridge Uncorked for wine tasting and The Hair Mill for all your hairstyling needs.
Other nearby historical sites include the Masonic Cemetery, where the town’s founder, Jeremiah Woods, is buried, the Masonic Lodge on Augusta Street, which dates back to 1883 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the recently restored Woodbridge Grange building.
Other attractions in Woodbridge include the Woodbridge Golf & Country Club and the Woodbridge Wilderness Area near the Mokelumne River, an undeveloped area full of trees and a few trails.
“We like it quiet, but we’re close to the conveniences,” said Gertie Kandris, an active Woodbridge resident. “It’s great for bicycling, and it’s great for walking.”
Kandris’ husband, Tasso, said their neighbors moved from Lodi to Woodbridge for more peace and quiet.
In 1858, the settlement called Woods Ferry along the Mokelumne River was the largest community between Stockton and Sacramento.
Jeremiah H. Woods built a ferry at the river crossing and charged fees to wagons, buggies and horseback riders traveling the trail between Stockton and Sacramento.
Later in 1858, Woods abandoned his ferryboat and built a toll bridge across the Mokelumne River at the same point where Lower Sacramento Road crossed. Once the bridge was in use, the settlement’s name was changed from Woods’ Ferry to Woodbridge.
Woods met an early death in a saloon fight in June 1864.
Not To Miss:
Downtown Woodbridge, centered on Lower Sacramento Road between the Woodbridge Irrigation District canal and Mokelumne Street. Contains several 19th-century buildings that include upscale restaurants, a hair salon and a few shops.
Woodbridge Wilderness Area, north end of Meadowlark Drive off Woodbridge Road. The undeveloped area totals 17 acres. It leads to the south bank of the Mokelumne River. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first and third Saturday and Sunday of each month.
The wilderness area, owned by San Joaquin County, has a few trails, but no picnic areas, restrooms or other amenities for visitors. When they say “wilderness,” they mean it.
Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery, Lower Sacramento Road. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and contains graves of inhabitants going back to the 19th century. Jeremiah Woods, who settled in Woodbridge, is among those buried there.
The public may also visit the cemetery by appointment. For more information, call Aleck Daumbacher at 209-794-2172.
Woodbridge Golf & Country Club, a private golf course on the portion of Woodbridge Road north of the Mokelumne River and west of Lower Sacramento Road.
San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel: 209-468-3113; firstname.lastname@example.org
Woodbridge Rural Fire Protection District: 209-369-1945 (emergency number 911)
Woodbridge Irrigation District: 209-369-6808
Woodbridge Sanitary District: 209-368-0900 (open 2 to 5 p.m. weekdays)
Woodbridge Elementary School: 209-331-8160