Dave is completing his second year as president of the West Side Pioneer Association, which operates the museum.
During our conversation, he mentioned that the second decade of the 20th century — 1910-1919 — was certainly a productive one for Tracy. Forming a high school district was just one of the major milestones.
It didn’t take long for us to agree that those years could go down in our town’s history as a time of greatest change and development.
The population of Tracy in 1910 was 996, and by 1920 it had jumped to 2,450.
What triggered that population growth and how Tracy responded to it are the key elements of what Dave and I were talking about.
Let’s take a look at that active decade:
• 1910 — Tracy becomes a division point and terminal for the Southern Pacific Railroad, bringing many new S.P. employees and their families to town.
• 1910 — Tracy voters approve incorporation of the city of Tracy.
• 1912 — The city’s first water and sewage systems are completed and placed into use; the Tracy Fire Department is formed.
• 1912 — The new two-story Tracy Grammar School — later Central School — is completed on Central Avenue.
• 1912 — Voters of five elementary school districts vote to establish West Side Union High School District. Classes begin on the second floor of the new grammar school building.
• 1912 — Naglee-Burk Irrigation District northwest of Tracy is established as the vanguard of irrigation development in the Tracy area. Dairies, many operated by Portuguese dairymen, start popping up in the district.
• 1915 — West Side Irrigation District around Tracy is approved by district voters.
• 1917 — Tracy builds a new City Hall and fire station at the corner of Ninth Street and Central Avenue. The city purchases its first motorized fire engine.
• 1917 — Pacific Sugar Corp. opens its beet-sugar mill north of town, the first new major industry to locate here since the Central Pacific (later Southern Pacific) founded Tracy in 1878.
• 1918 — Water is first pumped into the canals of West Side Irrigation District. Irrigation gathers momentum.
There were other active decades in our town. The 1950s have to qualify as a possible runner-up to the 1910-19 decade.
Right off the bat, in 1950, there was the expansion of activity at the Tracy depot and in the S.P. operations with the onset of the Korean war.
This was followed by the completion of the Tracy Pumping Plant and Delta-Mendota Canal, the opening of Deuel Vocational Institution and a major expansion at Heinz.
The council-manager form of government came to city of Tracy. Tracy added four new elementary schools, and Tracy High’s new campus was started.
The 1980s, when the spurt of residential growth was started, or possibly the 1990s, when growth took off, have to be high on the development-decade list also, but all in all, the second decade of the 20th century still takes the development cake.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.