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1800s: Cowell walked across Sierra Nevada
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• 1827: Area first described by chroniclers. Jedediah Smith camped in vicinity with a party of trappers.
• 1844: Or there about: John C. Fremont camped in area.
• 1846: First pioneers came to area-names of Lewis and Williams are listed on the arch at cemetery.
• 1850: First school built in French Camp. Castle and Tulare (Lathrop) schools built in 1855.
• 1852: George Castle came to area, of French Camp Road. He came via Wisconsin where he lived, worked, and married. He was elected Sheriff in 1869.
• 1853: Cutler Salmon came to area (another one via Wisconsin.)
• 1857: East Union School house on the northeast corner of Louise Avenue and Union Road was built. In 1892 a church was built on the southeast corner because too many funerals were interrupting classes.
• 1863: Joshua Cowell came to area. Known as “Uncle Josh” and later as “Father of Manteca.” Early Manteca built on his land.
• 1870: Cowell Station name when Central Pacific Railroad was built.
• 1885: Irrigation started by Joshua Cowell.
• 1896: Wheel-less, old box car became skimming station at stop known as Cowell Station.
• 1897: Cowell Station had to be renamed; probably named by railroad, many stories about ticket misprints, etc.
• 1898: First store opened in Manteca by Overshiner.
• 1900: Or there about; water works established by Achille Bacilieri (sold to city in 1928.)
• 1907: Commonwealth Committee, first government.
• 1909: Board of Trade established to promote Manteca. This was a cross between a city council and Chamber of Commerce.
• 1909: South San Joaquin Irrigation District formed.
• 1911: Electricity came from Sierra and San Francisco Electric (purchased by PG&E in 1920.)
• 1912: Volunteer Fire Department formed.
• 1917: Local jail was an unused ice house in the 200 block of East Yosemite.
• 1918: Incorporation of the City of Manteca, precipitated by the quarantine by the State Department of Health due to failure of local septic system.
• 1918: Spreckels Sugar Plant opened. First Methodist Episcopal Church constructed, now the Manteca Museum.
• 1919: First hospital opened at corner of Yosemite and Veach.
• 1930s: Ice cream parlor “The Scoop” opened. It became a well known stop for Bay Area tourists going to the Sierra.
• 1946: Wall of cabinets moved to Manteca Drug Store. Originally located in Owl Drugs in Oakland, built in 1890s. In 1977 these cabinets were put in a barn because the drug store wanted to modernize their counters for their cosmetics.
• 1950: Manteca established as a bedroom community for Modesto, Stockton, Tracy, even industries of Lathrop.
• 1970: Fastest growing community in San Joaquin County; New city administration center built; Library expanded; Improvement of sewer system; Lots of new homes and apartments built; Became active commerce center (No. 3 in county.)
• 1974: First Pumpkin Festival conducted, Oakwood Lake Resort opened.
• 1977: Pumpkin seed spitting contest gained recognition in Guinness Book of World Records for a seed cast
Source: Manteca Historical Society

Editor’s note: The following is the first in a series recapping Manteca history as the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close.

It was the ultimate power walk.

Joshua Cowell – the Father of Manteca – arrived on the sandy plains in 1863 on foot.

Cowell had literally walked across the Sierra Nevada to what is now modern-day Manteca from the Carson Valley in Nevada. Originally from Tioga, N.Y., Cowell’s family migrated to Grant County, Wisconsin. It was from there where other Manteca pioneer families including the Salmons, Reynolds, Castles and Graves among others. Cowell headed west with his brothers in 1861. His brothers went directly to California while Cowell opted to linger two years in the Carson Valley.

Cowell arrived here in January 1863 and immediately purchased the ranch he lived on until his death in 1925. It was a ranch that contains most of present day Manteca.

His ranch house, built roughly where the Bank of America branch now stands today on the southeast corner of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street some 146 years  later, was the epicenter of the community.

It was from here that his grand vision for a town and vibrant farming district blossomed.

Cowell was the first to push for an elaborate irrigation system. Other farmers just laughed. He tried to dig a 45-mile ditch from Knights Ferry to Manteca but farmers refused to cooperate. Charles Tulloch took over the project while Cowell simply contracted to build the ditches.

Cowell Station is what the stop on the tracks became when he successfully lobbied the railroad for a creamery stop to ship dairy products to San Francisco. Cowell served as president of the Cowell Station Creamery for five years.

After helping lead the community’s first enterprise, Cowell ventured into other businesses and eventually was director of the First National Bank of Manteca.

Cowell wasn’t always successful. During the 1870s he unsuccessfully tried to return 640 acres to the bank for a mortgage of $4 an acre.

Manteca incorporated in 1918 and Cowell was selected as the city’s first mayor.

There are many prominent families that built the Manteca community mostly through agriculture and enterprise. But it was Cowell who started it all. He saw the sandy plains as more than just a farming district.