Gonzales History

Gonzales has a rich history. The Southern Pacific Railroad laid tracks through the area in 1872, and later a depot was built to service freight and passenger trains. In 1874, Mariano and Alfredo Gonzalez planned the original town, consisting of 50 blocks on land originally deeded to their father, Teodoro Gonzalez, in 1836. Twenty years later in 1894, the earliest recorded population was 500 residents.

Cattle and grain raising dominated the area until the 1890s when Swiss immigrants founded dairies. At the turn of the century, the Alpine Condensary was established to produce condensed milk, a process originated by a local resident. In the 1920s dairy farming gave way to vegetable crops in which thrived because of rich soils and advancements in irrigation, machinery, and transportation.

The first school house was built in 1874. The Gonzales Baptist Church was built in 1884 and still holds weekly worship services at the corner of Fourth and Day Streets. On January 10, 1947, Gonzales residents voted to incorporate the City. Today, historic buildings still stand on Fourth Street in downtown Gonzales and contribute to the City’s small town charm that is enjoyed by residents and visitors.

 

Gonzales in the 1950s

 

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Fire Department History

Gonzales Fire house with CDF Station attached

Gonzales Fire Department was housed next to the jail cell behind 46 Fourth St on Belden St at the alley. 

The two story building had meeting/training room on top of the two engine bays. California State Forestry build the first Gonzales CDF station attached to the Rural fire station. 

Wideman Bank

Wideman Bank on Fourth Street early 1900s

A staple of any community is the stability provided by the local bank. 

Wideman Bank was located on Fourth St. at Alta where the only local bank is still located.