Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I have long been a fan of LA. I am my own chamber of commerce for the City of Angels since moving here in 1968. But it goes without saying that the noise gets to me every so often and I have to get away. So, for those of you who long to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city environs of Los Angeles, I have a suggestion – try Manteca. It’s “small town America,” nestled in the farming heartland of California near the northern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, where the pace is slow and it’s quiet! You can trade in the “music of LA,” its sirens, congestion, and endless traffic noise, for the distant hoot of a train whistle and a small town environment where there are still no parking meters. Some long time friends of mine did just that a few short years ago, moving from Piedmont to Manteca. There is not a whole lot going on there in Manteca but it may be just what you’re looking for. And with the San Francisco Bay Area about 60 miles to the west, and nearby cities of Sacramento, Tracy and Stockton easily accessible, big city amenities are available for those who want or need them. Yosemite is also not far away.
My friends bought a house in Del Webb’s Sun City, a retirement community limited to seniors 55 and older and are very happy there. Manteca, however, is not just for senior citizens. Billed as “the Family City,” folks with children also enjoy the area. Among other things, the city features a Little League complex called “Big League Dreams” which will knock your eye out. With six baseball fields, each named after a major league stadium, beautifully manicured ball fields, a realistic likeness of bleachers and fans adorning each outfield, and a stadium club selling food and drinks in the center of the complex, the complex is a veritable treasure for all Little Leaguers and their parents.
And the area is steadily growing, from a present population of 65,000, an increase to 75,000 is expected by 2012. Bigger store shopping is also becoming more available, with Costco, Bass Pro, Kohl’s and others having been added in recent years.
Manteca is surrounded by almond farms and grape orchards but the signature crop is pumpkins. Eight out of every ten pumpkins found in grocery stores in California are harvested in the Manteca area.
One of the attractions of this area is visiting nearby Murphys, a small town throwback to the Gold Rush days, about an hour’s drive away along winding State Route 4 through picturesque, rolling farmland. With its one main street down the middle of town, a handful of stores on either side of the street, and Murphys Historic Hotel and Restaurant, a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1856, available for dining and overnight stay, this small town attracts tourists throughout the year.
About a mile west of Murphys is the Ironstone Winery, a beautiful winery complemented by jewelry shopping and wine tasting. The notable event at this winery is the presence of a 44 ½ pound gold nugget, enclosed in a walk-around glass case and stored in a secure vault. This nugget was discovered in the nearby area in recent years and is insured for 3 ½ million dollars. Probably cheap at today’s gold prices. It’s quite an eyeful.
Also not to be missed is a nearby small town just off Route 4 with the amazing name of “Copperopolis,” abounding what used to be copper mines. The mines are now defunct but provided copper for bullets during the Civil War. The Town Square features gift shops, a coffee house and other attractions in a very scenic setting.
For those of you needing rejuvenation, the Manteca area is definitely worth exploring.
Arnold G. Regardie
June 1, 2011