Agriculture is a big part of San Joaquin County’s glorious history.
So what better way to celebrate the 50th year of the SJC Historical Society & Museum than with an exhibit of the era that revolutionized agriculture at the Cortopassi-Avansino Building located inside Micke Grove Regional Park between Lodi and Stockton west of Highway 99.
The new “Innovators in Agriculture” exhibition features everything from historic equipment and historic photos to large-screen videos and touchscreen displays.
It’s here that stories of families come to light along with innovations that developed six crops identified closely with SJC after the earlier era of dry-farmed grains – fresh produce “truck farming,” dry beans, asparagus, cherries, processing tomatoes and walnuts.
The museum offers self-guided tour including the one-room Calaveras School built in 1866 near the intersection of Eight Mile Road and Highway 88.
The history here dates back to California’s heartland, where native tribes – Miwoks and Yokuts – were among the earliest settlers.
But no one was more famous than Capt. Charles M. Weber,
He was once a business partner of William Gulnac, who was the owner of a large tract of land in San Joaquin Valley.
In 1845, Gulnac transferred this 48,747-acre parcel also known as El Campo de los Franceses to Weber for “179 pesos, one hundred in silver and seventy-nine in goods.”
Two years later, Weber settled on the land with “20 trappers and hunters, 4,000 cattle and 200 horses.”
His settlement was initially known as “Tuleburg” for its abundance of Tule reeds.
Weber formally changed the name to honor Commodore Robert F. Stockton, who had promised but failed to help him secure the title for Campos de los Franceses.
The story on Weber and his family along with the Native Americans who once inhabited this region can be found inside the Erickson Building.
The first stop on the tour is the little red Museum Mercantile, offering gifts, books and snacks. Admission fees can also be paid there.
A few feet away is the clamshell dredge bucket once used to deepen the channel of the San Joaquin River and form levees in the Delta.
The Delta Building offers a large collection of hand and foot-powered tools.
The Micke Building showcases a wide variety of wagons and carriages along with exhibits on dairy farming, general farming and construction of wooden wheels.
The Tree and Vine Building features nuts, fruits, and grapes grown in San Joaquin County. The Flame Tokay grapevines and the orange Pacific Fruit Express can be seen just outside these doors.
The Agricultural Equipment Center and the Brown-Jones Building provide displays of “land-leveling and earth-moving equipment.”
The Rosen Building has a great collection of wheeled and tracked tractors.
The McNeilly Building consists of small engines and equipment coupled with small trucks, toys and model tractors.
On a nice day, the Sunshine Trail proved to be more than pleasant surprise on this visit to the museum.
Small wooden covered bridges, waterfalls, and native plants from the coastal Redwoods, through the Coast Range, foothills, Sierra Nevada and the San Joaquin Valley can be found along the trail. Included are 12 audio messages to assists the visually impaired.
The trail also provides a glimpse at Capt. Weber’s cottage once located on the Stockton Channel in what’s now downtown.
This white cottage was built by Weber in 1847.
Further down the way is Julia Weber’s house. She was the only daughter of Capt. Weber and his wife, Helen Murphy Weber.
The house was built in 1892 in the area of the Calaveras River at Hammer Lane and restored in 1901. The then 109-year-old structure was relocated to the museum property of Micke Grove in 2001.
Place: San Joaquin County Historical Society & Museum
Location: Micke Grove Regional Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi
How to get there: Take Highway 99 (north if coming from Manteca), exit Armstrong Road and go west (follow the signs).
Park hours: Open daily (except Christmas) from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Entrance into the park: $5 per vehicle, $10 for vehicles over 22 feet.
Museum hours and costs: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $5 for adults, $2 for children, $4 for students, and $4 for seniors.
For more information: 209.953.3460, 209.331.2055, or log on to www.sanjoaquinhistory.org.