August 15, 2010

Town of Locke, in the Sacramento Delta

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

On Friday I cast aside my conservation efforts, put some gasoline in the car, and took off for the Sacramento Delta area. Putt, putt, putt...

And although there are many sights and curiosities along the way, my destination was the historic Chinese village of Locke. Snap, snap, snap...

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

The discovery of gold in California was the easy part -- the hard part was getting it out of the ground. The solution was to import multitudes of Chinese workers who were willing to work for very little money.

In addition to laboring in the mines, the Chinese were responsible for building many of California's first railroads, roads, bridges, canals and levies. They also proved to be exceptionally good farmers, although I'm pretty sure the White-Man pocketed most of their profits. Discrimination against the Chinese was rampant.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Preceding the founding of Locke the town of Walnut Grove a few miles away had been their home, but in 1915, the Chinese section of town caught fire and many were left homeless. Because the Chinese were excluded from owning property back in those days, an industrious Chinese businessman convinced the local white landowner to lease him the property on which Locke was built.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Pretty soon, a fully functional small town was built, complete with restaurants, schools, gambling parlors, hardware and grocery stores.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

In the 1930's the curiously named "Al the Wops" restaurant and bar was the first white owned business in town. "Wops" is what the Chinese called whites (((don't worry, we called the Chinese worse))), but nobody seems to know exactly why Al used the derogatory term in naming his establishment.

On weekends Al the Wops is a popular hangout for the rowdy motorcycle crowd. Look closely at the sign -- between the "W" and the "O" is a bullet-hole.

The menu at Al the Wops is basically steak and booze, but I understand the place is famous for having a jar of peanut butter on each table which you are supposed to slather over your steak. Bon Appetit...

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John @ Beans and I on the Loose said...

Another interesting history lesson. I love them. Oh the pictures are good too. :)

d smith kaich jones said...

peanut butter? lordy. reading your stuff reminds me of the book "going back to bisbee" - a history/geography/biology lesson told on the drive from tucson to bisbee. a charming wonderful book.
this too.


photowannabe said...

We were in Coloma today and saw many evidences of the hardworking Chinese at the mines.
Fascinating travelogue Don.

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