During the 1860s and 1870s Joel Parker Whitney, called Parker then, expanded his Spring Valley Ranch from 320 acres to 18,000 acres. Silted water from the Bear River watershed limited agriculture at the ranch until
In 1887 Parker joined with neighboring ranchers to extend ditches and bring water to 5000 acres along the Loomis/Penryn corridor. The project filed for incorporation as the Placer County Citrus Colony in 1888. The Colony sold small ranches to Europeans, mainly English noblemen, promising them good profits from early citrus ripening and being able to beat
By 1891 about 50 Colony ranches were producing mainly deciduous fruit. Most citrus trees did not thrive in
The Colonys death knell came by 1899 when malaria struck dozens of families and scared away all but a very few. The water that had brought a promising future for
The granite Citrus Colony clubhouse is now a residence on Del Mar Avenue. Today the Colony area is often called English Colony
The failure of the Placer County Citrus Colony marked the end of halcyon years for the Whitney Ranch.
At about the turn of the century, Parker contracted Brights disease, a debilitating kidney ailment. Although he remained somewhat active in his businesses until at least 1910, he began to disconnect from ranch operations. W. J. Downing, his long time accountant; friend and silver mine partner managed the ranchs financial affairs from
From correspondence between Downing and the younger Parker between 1902 and 1908 it is apparent that Downing thought that the younger Parker was doing a poor job. One memo from Downing to the younger Parker chastises him for misreporting the proceeds of a wool sale and questions the justification for his large tabs at Porters Saloon in Rocklin.
Recently deceased Catherine Whitney of
Joel Parker Whitney died at
The younger Parker died young at the ranch in 1924, two months after marrying for the third time. His sister Helen Beryl, apparently never involved in the ranchs operations or financial affairs, was living at the Oaks when she died in 1935 after her third divorce. Younger brother Vincent, estranged from his siblings throughout his later life and running a successful insurance firm in
The Horseshoe Cattle Company purchased a large part of the ranch in the early 1950s and razed the Oaks to save county taxes. The center of the Oaks complex was located on todays
In 1960 Sunset International Petroleum Corporation entered the land development business when it bought the ranchs southern 12,000 acres. Sunset vice president and visionary land developer Carlos Travares conceived an upscale and self-contained city with 32,000 residences, medical facilities, shopping malls, schools and light industry. A regional airport was planned for a site near todays Thunder Valley Casino.
The project was named
Rocklins population boom started in the mid 1970s. Travares
The foregoing is from a variety of sources including The Foundations of Placer County Horticulture by Samuel Gittings
Even though Parker was a meticulous diarist and prolific writer, there is a dearth of records covering long periods of ranch history, including the 3-year period leading up to his death and the transition of ranch control to his heirs.
The probable reason for this is that Soda Springs ski resort owner Oscar Jones leased the Oaks and 40 surrounding acres for a dude ranch in 1936. A May Sacramento Union article quoted Jones as proudly announcing that he had discovered several trunks full of Spring Valley records in the Oaks and destroyed several loads of the stuff.