In 2006, the City of Lodi celebrated 100 years since its incorporation — but Lodi’s roots go deeper than that.
Before anyone had even dreamed up Lodi, a group of early families living in the area founded the Salem School District in 1859. They settled near what is now the intersection of Turner Road and Cherokee Lane.
The city was founded with the name Mokelumne Station in August 1869, when the Central Pacific Railroad chose to run its tracks through the area. By then, Salem School District was preparing to build its third schoolhouse.
On Aug. 25 — 150 years ago this weekend — a plat map for the city that would become Lodi was filed.
Now, Lodi historians and history buffs are planning ways to celebrate the city’s milestone.
“It’s really not just one day,” said Lisa Craig, director of the Lodi Historical Society. “It’s basically a whole year.”
The Lodi Historical Society is already planning a September program marking the anniversary, complete with a birthday cake. Craig has also been putting together a timeline of the city’s early days, which will be printed on a banner to display at events.
The society is also working on a series of projects that will document the different migrations — with roots in Germany, Russia, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond — to Lodi and how those groups have shaped local history, individually and together. Those projects range from partnering with the City of Lodi to create an interpretive trail at Hale Park, Lodi’s oldest existing park, and the Pacific Italian Alliance at the Lodi Street Faire in October.
Back in 1869, very soon after the Central Pacific Railroad tracks were laid, Charles O. Ivory and John Morgan Burt founded their store on the corner of what are now Pine and Sacramento streets. Other businesses and families began to settle near the small, wooden general store.
Other early businesses included E.W. Spencer, who owned a wagon he used as a mobile photography studio; the Lodi Flouring Mill that was at the corner of Main and Locust streets. Wheat and watermelons were among the early crops.
In 1876, a coalition of fraternal groups, including the Masonic Lodge, International Order of Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias teamed up to raise funds for the imposing two-story brick building that now houses Joe Hassan’s warehouse.
Cattywampus from Joe Hassan’s Clothing and across the street from World of Wonders Science Museum, the structure is the oldest commercial building in Lodi. According to an article by Lodi historians Christi Kennedy and Ralph Lea, the building had meeting space for the fraternities upstairs, while the Grangers General Merchandise Store was downstairs.
The building was one of the few that survived a major fire that decimated Downtown Lodi on Oct. 11, 1887.
By 1900, Lodi was the second largest settlement in San Joaquin County, with 1,500 residents — six years before its incorporation.
In the years since, Lodians have built upon those foundations.
“We’ve got this opportunity to celebrate a variety of anniversaries,” Craig said.
Among the anniversaries, the city celebrated 100 years since the creation of both the American Legion Post 22 and A&W Root Beer.
The First United Methodist Church is marking the 100-year anniversary of its church building’s construction in September, and already preparing for next year, when the congregation turns 150.
“They were the first congregation in Lodi,” Craig said.
The Buddhist Church of Lodi turned 90 this year; while St. Anne’s was founded in 1876, the first Masses were held in Woodbridge in 1869.
The first cornerstone of Carnegie Library, now Carnegie Forum, was laid in 1909, 110 years ago. The golden bear atop the Lodi Arch has its roots in the same year; the Lodi Parlor of Native Sons stole a papier-mache bear from a Stockton club and planted it on the Arch, facing toward Stockton. (The bear that tops the Arch today was installed 85 years ago, in 1934.)
This year presents a great chance for the Lodi Historical Society and other history advocates and educators to share the city’s history with others, Craig said.
“It’s a good time to recognize and celebrate (the past),” she said.