IF YOU GO
DIRECTIONS: To get to Lockeford, either take Highway 99 North to the Highway 88 east exit and turn right or take Jack Tone Road out of Ripon and head north. The road will dead-end right into Highway 88.
LOCKEFORD – It starts with the meats.
A butcher’s case full of sausages and franks – mouthwatering and bursting with flavor – draws people from as far away as the Bay Area who come to stock up for a weekend barbecue or a playoff football game or just a midweek treat of the kind of quality you can’t find at the grocery store.
But nestled in at the base of the foothills, the town of Lockeford offers up a glimpse at a historic way of life – signs of an early agrarian economy – in an inviting, charming package.
Here are a few tidbits about what you’ll need to know and what you’ll find when you get there:
Locke’s Ford – The earliest mapping of the name “Lockeford” came in 1862 as the community was competing with nearby Woodbridge as the major crossing for the nearby Mokelumne River. Woodbridge pulled ahead by offering free passage to stages as a way to draw traffic. It wouldn’t be the only time they’d come in second. As a stop on the main road between Stockton and Sacramento, both communities jockeyed for their respective places and the lion’s share of the road traffic – ultimately with Woodbridge taking the lead in that race because of it’s placement closer inline. In order to further establish the community, which was growing as a result of the Gold Rush and the Westward migration, the community chartered a steamboat from San Francisco to sail up the Mokelumne River to show that it could serve as an inland port – aided by recent floods from strong rains. The captain, however, stopped at Woodbridge and refused to go any further on the narrow channels. A steamboat did eventually successfully make it to the community, but later hit a snag and the plans for connecting the river to the growing Delta channel were abandoned.
Clements Stampede – First held in 1943, the Clements Stampede and Horseshow has become one of the area’s biggest seasonal draws for horsemen and enthusiasts – drawing cowboys and bullriders from throughout the Western United States. While it has been held intermittently over the course of the last several years, the event – organized and hosted by the still active Clements Buckaroos – was held this last year in July as the Clements Stampede Junior.
Wine Country in the Hills – Just because Lodi has become one of the foremost destinations for wine enthusiasts, Lockeford isn’t going to let it’s longtime nemesis – Woodford to be exact, but close enough – have all of the fun. A number of vineyards and wineries have popped up along the base of the foothills, including the Stama Winery, Boitano Family Wines, Vino Piazza and Pasos Vineyards. Whether it’s just a day trip away from the norm or a chance to try something new and different, the beauty of the Lockeford Area will provide the perfect backdrop.
Golf, Golf Away – It’s one of the most beautiful courses in the area. And it’s also one of the most challenging. Welcome to Lockeford Springs. The rolling hills that comprise this 18-hole course – which has hosted numerous high school championship tournaments since its inception – are popular with those looking to get away from their standard muni track, and the course offers a free round for anybody during the week of their birthday. With cards outfitted with GPS to tell you exactly how far you away from the hole, you’ll never misjudge again.
A Town With Charm – A lot of people pass through on their way to other points in the mountains – Jackson, Kirkwood – but it draws its own fair share of visitors thanks to the old-town historic charm that has more of a Central Valley feel than the Mother Lode towns that it more closely resembles. Old buildings. Perfectly manicured lawns. Inviting churches. It might start as a destination for many, but it has more than enough to bring them back.