Showing a dedication to welcome arches like few others have, this is Twain Harte's fourth arch to stand at this spot. Spanning Joaquin Gully Road at highway 108, it was constructed in 1986 to replace one erected in c1945.
The town's first arch, which was erected prior to 1930, was replaced in 1931 by a stronger and more durable one. By 1945-46 a third, steel enforced version of the arch, making use of the letters from the second arch, .appeared on the scene. Although all of the arches differed in some way or another, the most significent change was made on the existing one. The first three spelled out the town's name as TWAIN-HARTE, with a hyphen between the two words. This one, as you can see, does not have the hyphen.
Founded in 1922, Twain Harte celebrates it's 80th birthday this year. Photo by Mr. & Mrs. Raymond I. Von Savoye.
Modesto's arch, dedicated in 1912, is reportedly the oldest slogan arch in America, and I have not heard of any attempts to disprove that claim. If you have lived in California awhile you may be familiar their slogan, Water, Wealth, Contentment Health, but have you heard the old Modesto saying that goes with it. "The land gets the Water, the bankers get the Wealth, the cows get the Contentment and the farmers get the Health." There's bound to be some truth to that.
The Modesto arch is now 90 years old and looks little changed from the day it was dedicated . The same can not be said for the town itself, of course.
The above sign was, at one time, attached to the face of an arch that spanned 16th Street (Old Highway 99) at "G" Street, Merced's southern limit. Another, almost identical arch, spanned the same highway at "V" Street, the northern entrance to the town. Both arches were reportedly constructed and installed in 1927. The southern arch stood astride a small concrete bridge and was a bit narrower than the "V" Street arch to the north. The signs at each entrance were identical with their white-on-black letters traced with neon tubing.
The "G" Street structure was taken down in c1950, probably, or at least possibly, because of plans to widen the highway. The "V" Street arch, on the other hand, was demolished in 1962 for no apparent reason other than someone ordered it done. Dave Fuentes photo.
When O.A. Robertson, President of the Union Colonization Company decided to subdivide his 108,000 acre Chowchilla ranch in 1912, he built the huge wooden arch, shown above, to welcome prospective buyers. The arch stood over the entrance to Robertson Boulevard, a 12-mile, long palm-lined road leading to the new farming community of Chowchilla. With 10, 20, 30, and 40 acre plots selling for $250 an acre and, backed by a money back guarantee, people came from all over the country. On May 22, 1912, 4,000 people showed up for the grand opening, which included a BBQ lunch and rodeo.
Costing $80,000, the three-portal Spanish style arch was dedicated in 1913. With a span of 100 feet, the arch was designed to be wide enough for a four-horse team to turn around under it. The supporting pillars at each side had pedestrian portals over the sidewalks and above each portal was a 6X16 foot room. The inside of the arch itself was spacious enough for a person to cross from one side to the other.
At the top of the arch, in the shape of a half circle was the name, CHOWCHILLA in white letters. Also in white letters and below the town's name was the message, GATEWAY TO 108,000 ACRES. When 26,000 acres of land was added to the property through the purchase of an adjacent ranch, the figure on the arch was changed to 134,000 ACRES.
The station of the Chowchilla Pacific Railway was build next to the arch in 1922. The railway was formed in 1913 to provide freight and passenger service to the new farms.
On the night of August 28, 1937, the arch was completely destroyed by fire. It was decided the fire was probably started accidentaly by hobos who sometimes spent the night in the small rooms in the structure. Chowchilla District Historical Society photo.