Whether hoping for a crash course in local history or eager to delve deeper into your surroundings, these five fun facts will do the trick.
1. Lodi, Illinois or California?
The city of Lodi was founded back in 1869. Many believe that Lodi’s first settlers actually came from a town of the same name in Illinois. New home, same name, we suppose. However, the city’s name was originally Mokelumne, after the nearby river. After a few years of being called Mokelumne, Lodi became the city's official name on March 21, 1874. Fourteen years later, Lodi was named the fourth of five townships in San Joaquin County.
2. “Watermelon Capital of the Country.”
That's right! Long before Lodi became a popular wine region, another fruit entirely dominated the fields. In the 1880s, Lodi's watermelon reputation was so great that it became the unofficial "Watermelon Capital of the Country." Photos show a four-horse team pulling a wagon filled to the brim with fresh watermelon and families enjoying the locally grown crop. In 1886, 3,000 carloads of watermelons were exported from Lodi to neighboring regions. Even more impressive is that they were grown without irrigation.
Family Eating Watermelon | Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Historical Society & Museum
3. George Washington Hill lived here.
That's right, a George Washington Hill once lived in what is now referred to as simply Hill House. The former president of American Tobacco Co. resided here with his wife, their two children and his wife's half-sister. Originally built at the turn of the century, the Hills decided to move their house in 1948 from its original location on School Street to 826 South Church, where it sits today. The six-block move was quite the endeavor, as one might imagine. Today, tours of the home operate daily.
Hill House | Photo courtesy of Hill House Museum
4. The wine industry grew fast and furiously.
According to the Lodi Historical Society, in 1899, Lodi had more than 2 million grapevines. Even in 1920, when Prohibition started, Lodi's wine industry continued to thrive despite the setback. That said, it wasn't until a few decades later, in 1965, that Lodi vintners could officially label their wine as such. The rest is history, of course, as Lodi is among the nation’s leading wine regions. Today, you can enjoy a tour through the vineyards and a figurative walk through time.
5. The streets tell a story.
When Lodi celebrated its 100th birthday, a group of artists called the 100 Walldogs painted a series of nine murals in Downtown Lodi. Each mural depicts an aspect of Lodi's history, as a way to bring the community together. Similarly, many of the local galleries pay homage to the past as well. Tony Segale's Double Dip Gallery recently had an exhibit called "Ten Years After, The Walldogs," which recounted this bit of recent history. Their next historical exhibition unveils in November.
"Take Stock in Lodi" mural on School & Elm Street