I first moved to Citrus Heights during the summer of 1975, while I was home for the summer from college in Iowa. Mom and Dad had decided to move from South Sacramento, which was becoming a bit like a war zone, up to Citrus Heights. Over the next ten years I lived in Citrus Heights at three more locations with friends after I moved out in 1977. One would think I moved every year during those years…living in ten different locations before finally marrying the first time in 1985. (It did not stop there, I moved seven more times over the next 10+ years after getting married…but that’s beyond the scope of this post)
House left was mom and dad’s house, house right was a corner duplex that I lived in with a friend and previous co-worker Jay. I moved out, he moved out and his parents moved in and lived there for another ten years or so.
House left was another duplex that I lived in with Jay until he got married…around three years had passed from when we first shared a duplex. I had lunch with Jay last week. House right was my friend Brad’s house…he was also a co-worker as he managed one restaurant while I managed another, and we also co-managed a restaurant together before I got promoted to run another location. I moved out from there when he married Daria...I really need to get down to the Modesto area to see them too.
Three of the four places I lived were less than 2 1/2 miles from this intersection. Although the fancy sign was not there, it was called Sylvan Corners even back then. I had no idea that this corner was the spot of the first school in the area, nor that the community was called “Sylvan” until 1910. As we travel in or motorhome we tend to get to know a bit about the history behind the town, community and/or National, State or local park we camp at. Yet I knew very little about Citrus Heights until I started to talk to Arny about it, and then did research as I would if I was visiting it for the first time.
I had driven by San Juan High School more times than I could count, since it was less than a mile from two of my residences, and along a busy corridor. I had no idea that it was first established, at a different location, in 1913, offering the youth a chance to go beyond Elementary School without having to live in Sacramento and attend Sacramento High School (which is where dad went to school).
By 1915 a high school (pictured above from school’s website) was built along Greenback Lane, and twenty years later it was replaced with the makings of what is present day San Juan High School, which has seen many additions and improvements over the years.
Another landmark that I had passed many times as I drove along Auburn Blvd just along the border of Citrus Heights is the 12 Mile House which was built in the 1920’s, but probably had its roots from previous buildings at this, or near this, location which were also known as 12 Mile House, or 12 Mile Station. In late 1920’s this building was built as a bar, and remained an active bar for many, many years, closing just before the new century began. It is the only business building still in existence that pre-dates World War Two within Citrus Heights.
Just a mile down Auburn Blvd is the 14-Mile Roadhouse, build around 1851 as a stopover for the teamsters taking supplies up to the mining camps. Its name was derived from being 14 miles from where the old Auburn road left Sacramento. I thought maybe this was the route of the Pony Express or a Stagecoach line, but those followed the Highway 50 route. Old Auburn Road did become U.S. Route 40, one of the original 1926 U.S. Highways, which was replaced by I-80.
Another structure which I had passed by many times over the years is this old white Baptist Church, dedicated in 1921 as a Quaker Friends Church, and is the oldest and first Church in Citrus Heights. It became a Baptist Church around 1975 after the Friends Church moved to a larger location.
In 1970 ground broke for Sunrise Mall, and by 1975 there were 101 shops anchored by J. C. Penney, Liberty House, Sears, and Weinstock's. Macy’s replaced Liberty House in 1984. In 1996 Weinstock’s was replaced by a larger Macy’s, and Macy’s, Penney and Sears are the current anchors and there are still over 100 other stores in or on the Mall’s property.
I can remember in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s that one could hardly find a parking place during the Christmas rush…but you could do all of your shopping right under one roof.
There are a few older homes from the early 1900’s still around, and one of the best is the Rusch House, which sits on the corner of Rusch Park. Built in 1916, it sits on the original 480 acre Volle Ranch. Fred and Julia Volle crossed the plains back in 1853, settling in Sacramento before moving to what is now Citrus Heights. Ten of their eleven children grew up on the ranch. Fred Rusch, their grandson, and his sister Julia were raised by the Volle grandparents because their mother died shortly after giving birth to Fred. By the time Fred was 15, he was managing the ranch. These two grandchildren inherited the house, and in 1950 gave 15 acres to establish the park, and thus created the Sunrise Park and Recreation District.
The Sylvan Cemetery started in 1862, and many of the original settlers of the community are buried here in the 18 acres cemetery. I was impressed with the section they set aside for veterans, many of whom served in WW2. Again, I had driven by this cemetery many times, and had never entered it until today. Actually raised in Sacramento, I just never took the time to find out about Citrus Heights despite living here four different times. I am glad that I finally explored some of its very interesting history. From ranch land, to farm land, to residential housing…and there are many other communities around Sacramento which have just as interesting histories as Citrus Heights does.