Rocklin’s earliest settlers were native Americans, the Nisenan Maidu. Soon after miners took over the region and its resources during the California Gold Rush, the tribe disappeared. At this time, Rocklin was known as “Secret Ravine.” The U.S. Census of 1860 counted 440 residents.
The name “Rocklin” first appeared in a railway schedule in 1864. But how did the railroad company arrive at the name? Perhaps it owes to the influence of the Irish. Many came to the area in the mid-nineteenth century, refugees of the Great Famine caused by potato blight. They found work in the area’s granite quarries. Since lin is a Celtic term for spring or pool, perhaps an Irish miner thought up the name while gazing at water pooling in a quarry pit.
Prized as a building material, granite is Rocklin’s earliest claim to fame. The city sits atop a large deposit of granite. You will see plenty of granite stonework in buildings, bridges and roadways throughout the area. The city’s second claim of note came in the 1860s when the Central Pacific line built a roundhouse here. Rocklin served as the railroad’s westernmost terminal for nearly half a century.
With ready access to transportation, area quarries supplied tons of high-quality granite for construction projects throughout the region. At the same time, local ranches and orchards flourished. The largest and most successful of these enterprises was the Spring Valley Ranch operated by Joel Parker Whitney. During the 1880s, it occupied 36 square miles and employed 200 hands. It also boasted the area’s most lavish residence, a three-story, twenty-room mansion made almost entirely of redwood.
Rocklin officially became a city in 1893. In 1908, the railroad relocated its terminal to nearby Roseville. Over the next couple of generations, the city remained essentially a sleepy little town. In the 1960s, only about 1000 people lived here. But a low cost of living and high quality of life eventually drew new families and investments. The community entered an important growth phase during 1980s. More recently, over the last fifteen years, the population has increased 64 percent. Today, Rocklin is home to about 60,000 people. Although granite is no longer mined here, the city is still a rock-solid place to live, work, and raise a family.
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