In between Galt and Elk Grove, off a little to the east of Highway 99, history records that there have been some small communities. Each little pioneer town took pride in its ability to provide for the needs of its citizens. Each was totally independent from the other. They never considered themselves a part of Galt. At one time, there were the small towns of Clay Station, Alta Mesa, Colony, Hicksville, Arno, Twin Cities, and Herald. Each small community boasted its own grammar school.
It was not until Galt built a high school that the small towns connected with the town of Galt as they sent their children from their grammar schools to continue their education in Galt. In high school, the children kept their grammar school friends and identity. In so doing, they remained separated from the Galt students. After all, they were not Galt Elementary School kids! For years, the folks who lived in the area northeast of Galt remained fiercely independent from Galt, often choosing to link themselves with Elk Grove, at that time, Galt High’s fiercest rival.
Over the years, Galt continued to grow. The neighbors to the north began coming into Galt for church, shopping, medical appointments, and social activities. Those who moved into the little South Sacramento County communities were searching for a quiet countryside, not building a sense of community. The little independent communities almost disappeared. All that remains today that can be recognized is a cluster of homes, a school, and a firehouse at the bend of Highway 104, the town called Herald. Eventually, the small schools disappeared. Only one school was left in Herald. To preserve some of the heritage of the area, the school district created the name “Arcohe”, a combination of the first two letters of the towns of Arno, Colony, and Herald.
Today, if you drive out in that area just north of Galt, you will find reminders of those small towns in the name of the streets. “Clay Station Road”, “Alta Mesa Road”, “Colony Road”, “Arno Road” and, of course, “Twin Cities Road.” They are all that is left of those thriving little communities.
Each of these small towns had a spirit of community that brought its citizens together for annual events. Usually the spirit of cooperation and fellowship that was needed to plan and put on a community event added to the mortar that was needed to build a strong community. In the days before TV, folks found their entertainment at school programs and activities at the little grammar schools that dotted the countryside, as well as church socials and an annual community gathering . One such gathering was the annual ALTA MESA FAIR, which, until 1983, was the special annual gathering of folks in the area northeast of Galt. For over 60 years, the Alta Mesa Fair had been an annual opportunity for farmers who were isolated from one another by acres of pasture and crops, to come together for a day to share stories about their farms, their children, and their dreams.
The fair offered a chance to show animals, and the children were as involved as the grownups. Alta Mesa once had one of the largest 4H club in the area, and the children in that club enjoyed the challenge of having the best animal to show at the fair.
There were young ladies who vied for the title of Alta Mesa Queen, there were lovely quilts to display, and there were games to be played, including the “Rolling Pin Toss”.
At the end of the day, when all the dishes were washed, and things quieted down, there was always entertainment. Songs, skits, dance routines, and recitations were often included in the evening’s activities. It was a wonderfully warm, close, feeling of friendship, camaraderie, and fellowship that each one felt having taken part in the Alta Mesa Fair.
What happened to that fair? It died. Like the little communities that disappeared, it was a victim of declining community interest. When it first started in 1922, most of the people made their living in farming. Today, most of the folks in that area work somewhere else. Little by little, the small villages of Clay, Alta Mesa, Hicksville, Arno, Colony, and Twin Cities have disappeared, leaving us only street names to remember them by, and a story such as that of the Alta Mesa Fair to remind us of history of our “neighbors to the north.”
Folks ask how "Twin Cities" got its name. As it turns out, the small stage stop, half way between Stockton and Sacramento, was referred to as the stop "Tween" Stockton and Sacramento, the "Tween Cities" stop. It slowly evolved into "Twin Cities" as it is today.
Galt Area Historical Society Home page
Last edited 27 February, 2005