CALIFORNIA COAL COUNTRY – Manteca Bulletin
Corral Hollow — a canyon that straddles the San Joaquin and Alameda county lines 6.5 miles southwest of Tracy — is well known to ATV enthusiasts.
This is where they can access the Carnegie State Vehicle Recreation Area. It has over 1,300 acres of equestrian area with over 80 miles of trails. There’s a motocross track, 4×4 area, 100cc track, 70cc track, ATV track, beginner riding area, concession area for everything from parts and safety gear to food and drinks. soft drinks, camping, picnic tables and barbecues in addition to the seemingly endless trails.
Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in spring/summer, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in fall.
Day use fees are $5 while camping is $10 per night.
You take Corral Hollow Road out of Tracy – which by the way is a great cycling route – to reach the off-road vehicle park. It is one of nine such fleets operated by the California State Park System.
Corral Hollow has
a rich history
ATV enthusiasts aside, Corral Hollow, as noted, attracts road cyclists looking for tough climbs and great descents nearby. It’s also a great “Sunday drive” diversion, especially when the hills are verdant before the golden hues of mid-spring set in.
It is also rich in history with the remains of several ghost towns.
The oldest road connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles both snaked through the canyon that was once known as Portezuela de Buenos Ayres or Pass of Good Winds that led to the Livermore Valley.
It was also a route to the southern mines during the gold rush.
It was apparently renamed Corral Hollow thanks to a large corral that was once in place at the mouth of the canyon to trap wild horses.
California’s first coal mines sprang up in the canyon after the discovery of coal in 1855 just above the Alameda County line, where the road name becomes Tesla Road.
Coal was mined and shipped to Stockton where it was used primarily to fuel factories. Over sixty tons were shipped in 1856. A year later, the Golden State’s first commercial mine closed because the owners could not make it profitable.
Then, in 1868, miners discovered thicker and better quality coal. Prior to its closure in 1870, this mine provided over 6,000 tons of coal to power the Central Pacific trains crossing the Altamont Pass.
The mining town of Tesla was formed in 1890 after the San Francisco & San Joaquin Coal Company built the Alameda and San Joaquin Railroad to service the mines.
The mines would eventually produce over 80,000 tons of coal per year for a decade.
The company employed about 800 miners. This allowed Tesla to have stores, a hospital, churches, a post office, a school, a hotel, a dance hall, a plaza with a bandstand, a saloon, and churches. Tesla was served by two-stop coach lines.
Besides clay and coal, there were also sand deposits in Tesla. The sand was shipped to Stockton to make window panes at the Pacific Window Glass Co. At the time, it was the only window maker this side of the Mississippi River.
The discovery of clay in Tesla’s mines led to the founding of the Carnegie Brick & Pottery Company in 1902.
The first brick and terracotta factory was established four miles east of Tesla in 1903. This came after Carnegie-owned Stockton Brick & Pottery Co., known for its vase and pottery pottery dubbed Rekstn ware as tile and sewer pipe, burned. This prompted the decision to build a replacement plant closer to Tesla’s mines.
The new pottery factory had eight beehive kilns. They were used to make cornice tiles, porcelain figurines and other items, which added to various sizes of sewer pipes.
Then, in 1904, a factory producing clay sewer pipes was built halfway between Carnegie and Tesla.
Tesla has become a town of 1,200 people. Carnegie at one time had a population of 300.
Both towns were devastated by a flood in 1911. The towns were abandoned as the company did not have the means to rebuild them or the railway.
The property where the pottery once stood is now used by all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts.
Carnegie, named after Andrew Carnegie, in its heyday had a school, hotel, bakery, and saloon in addition to cabins and dormitories.
Carnegie’s factory had 26 kilns and two kilns that could produce up to 20,000 bricks a day. The tallest chimney was 317 feet.
Terracotta objects produced by Carnegie—essentially ornate clay architectural accents used in buildings—can still be seen today.
Examples of Carnegie-produced terracotta adorn buildings in San Francisco such as the Palace Hotel, the original Bank of Italy (Bank of America), and Methodist Book Concerns, to name a few.
Buildings in Los Angeles with a terracotta facade produced at the Carnegie factory include the Oakland Hotel as well as the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
At its peak, the Carnegie factory employed 200 workers.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email [email protected]