A landmark of Sacramento’s early development, Arden Oaks remains a focal point of modern-day living with panache. With a natural environment where pheasant, quail and the “beloved” turkeys abound, Arden Oaks offers a tranquil setting amidst majestic trees and free-flowing creeks that eventually make their way to the American River.
To fully appreciate this modern-day fantasy come true, one has to look at Sacramento just before the time of Marshall’s gold discovery at a Coloma sawmill. In 1839 a Swiss immigrant named John Sutter founded the first inland settlement in Northern California. He build his renowned Sutter’s Fort which was the only settlement near the Sierras. It was shortly after this time that the history of Arden Oaks began. On December 20, 1844 Manuel Micheltorena made a Mexican land grant to Eliab Grimes for 44,374 acres of land that occupied eight miles along the American River and eight-and-one-half miles to the north.
Although a Samuel Morris acquired and held the land from 1852 until selling it in 1870 to Col. James Ben Ali Haggin (1827-1914), records indicate Haggin developed the land. In the early 1870’s, stockbreeding attracted Haggin’s interest. Beginning on a small scale on his Sacramento land, his horse-breeding empire became world-known and eventually extended to his native state of Kentucky where he developed, near Lexington, an immense horse-breeding estate. Between 1881 and 1891 his horses captured most of the great racing trophies in the East and West. In 1909 a number of the Sacramento city fathers, headed by the Chamber of Commerce, encouraged Haggin to consider the need for desirable acreage to offer easterners who were interested in locating in Sacramento. Sacramento’s business community was overjoyed on May 13, 1910 when an announcement was received that a Minneapolis land company had purchased the 44,372-acre “Rancho del Paso” and it would be cut into 10 and 20 acre parcels.
Several prominent Sacramento pioneer families were involved in owning these parcels, such as Theodora Robbins Bucklin, Gallaway and Wright. The horse influence was instrumental in attracting Steve Williams, developer, horseman and pilot, who was looking for land to develop with an appeal for those who loved the open spaces and desired room for horses. Williams purchased 1,800 acres in 1945 that embraced the Arden Park and Arden Manor sections. He then sold most of the land except 435 acres, which we know today as Arden Oaks. His dream was to develop estate-size lots bounded with horse trails. On August 16, 1945 this dream evolved with the recording of the 60-lot Arden Oaks, Unit 1, which featured lots ranging from 183 x 200 up to 367 x 724 feet. Between December 1945 and June 1954, Arden Oaks, Units 2 through 6, added close to 200 more lots to the section. There was such a demand for the estate-size lots (averaging from one to several acres), according to Williams, that all sold in a short time. Later units were divided into smaller land parcels for those who did not have an interest in horse zoning.
The first house was built in 1947-48 and belonged to the Williams family. It was located on the northwest corner of Winding Creek and Maple Glen Road.
Today, Arden Oaks has evolved into one of the most desirable North Area locations with a predominance of homes that feature tennis courts, swimming pools, and secluded park-like settings. There is quaintness in street-side mailboxes, a country-type atmosphere prevails, and residents are shielded from the mushrooming residence and commercial development that borders this residential oasis by Watt Avenue, Arden Way and Eastern Avenue. An early American spirit still prevails in this pocket community each year when Arden Oaks families band together in support of the Arden Oaks Neighborhood Association’s July 4th Extravaganza, which features a parade, contests, and even some spirited oratory.
Residents of Arden Oaks have found their gold mine, and it’s the green of a country setting with the tranquility of sounds of galloping horses and the plunk of a frog in a nearby creek.