’60s: The beginnings

October 1965: Real estate developers George Artz and Charles Bowman ask the County Planning Commission for zoning that would allow them to subdivide along the Cosumnes River in the near future. Artz says he hopes to begin developing a community called Rancho Murieta with about 30 one-acre lots on the south side of the river within three years.

January 1969: The county Zoning Board of Adjustment approves a use permit for an Operating Engineers’ training center on the north bank of the Cosumnes.

Here is a 1966 aerial photo of the ranch land that would become the community. Jackson Road is at the lower third of the photo. You can see it crossing the Cosumnes River, and the metal bridge that used to handle Jackson Road’s traffic is now a farm bridge over the river (and soon to be a golf bridge).

April 1969: The County Planning Commission approves preliminary plans for what the Sacramento Bee calls “a vast residential community which will take advantage of the natural beauty of rolling, tree-studded ranch land along the Cosumnes River.” Eventually, the developers say, 3,000 acres on both sides of the river will be developed for homes, townhomes, mobile homes, five elementary schools, a junior high school and shopping centers. There are further plans for a 27-hole golf course and an airport with a 3,800-foot runway.

The name itself originated with Joaquin Murietta. Tony Guzman, who has worked for us 18-19 years now, he was around here and he remembered the stories that came about having to do with Joaquin Murietta’s history. It was kind of intriguing. We said, well, why not carry this one step further and develop a project out there and name it after Joaquin Murietta? … It’s different. It encourages people to ask questions. It gives you an opportunity to explain how it all came about.

– Ray Henderson, the first project manager for Rancho Murieta, in February 1998 interview with Marion Cravens and Dixie Eudey.
(Ray Henderson died in 2005.)

April 1969: The Pension Trust Fund of Operating Engineers Local 3 names a manager for its Rancho Murieta Properties Inc. development. The pension trust says the development has a twofold purpose — to deliver a return on the investment and to serve as a training ground for the union’s trainees, who operate earth-moving equipment.

It was an oak-wooded, rolling country. Jack Granlees, who was the main owner, had a home on the hill just this side of the entrance of Rancho Murieta on the north side of Jackson Highway. And back in behind they had an old barn. They dairyed some at one time, they had some sheep, and they had range cattle. … One part of (the land) was Art Granlees and his turkeys. He had a very large number of turkeys, thousands of turkeys up there. … As I remember, the road that went into their barn area was almost where the entrance to Rancho Murieta is right now. Up to his house, it was just a road that went up on the hill. His house sat right on the point of the hill, about 300 yards east of the present entrance.

– Stan Van Vleck, area rancher and businessman, in November 1998 interview with Marion Cravens and Dixie Eudey.
(Stan Van Vleck died in 2000.)
San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto, right, dedicates the Operating Engineers training facility.

November 1969: Dedication ceremonies are held for the 15-acre Operating Engineers training facility, on the site of the planned Rancho Murieta development. San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto is the dedication speaker.