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A Small Town That Loves Company
The town of Gridley was named after its founder and earliest landowner, George W. Gridley. He was born in the state of New York and later moved with his parents to Illinois. In 1850, he attempted to drive sheep and cattle across the plains to California. He lost the animals, but arrived safely himself and settled in this area. As early as 1852, he was prospering in the stock business. Descendants of the Gridley family are still living in the area today. With the decline of mining, agriculture became a more stable and attractive business in the 1860s. The Central Pacific Railroad laid tracks from Oregon to Chico in 1865. The railroad completed its path to Gridley in 1870, and that is when the community of Gridley began to form. The principal products from the Gridley area were wool and sheep. Orchards, field crops, and cattle would soon follow. Two large fires, one in 1884 and one in 1891, destroyed much of the original business district. The district rallied and rebuilt around 1900. Much of the historic downtown district remains. 'Silk Stocking Row' the many well-preserved turn-of-the-century homes on Hazel Street, was so named because during the Depression the only women who could afford silk stockings lived in these large Hazel Street homes. The area surrounding Gridley produces much of the world's rice, almonds, citrus, and other foods. Stop by the summer Farmer's Market or one of many open orchards or fruit stands to sample some of the finest local produce you'll find anywhere. The area is on The Pacific Flyway. tens of thousands of beautiful Snow Geese can be seen wintering in fields that are kept flooded post-harvest to make their long journey between Alaska and Patagonia, South America possible. Area rice fields provide food and a resting place for nearly 230 wildlife species, and nearly 60 percent of the food for 7 to 10 million ducks and geese that migrate along the Pacific Flyway each winter. Pelicans, sandhill cranes, herons, storks, eagles, and other birds can be found here as well. Going west from downtown Gridley, you'll find Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, where visitors can walk or do a driving tour of the wetlands or view wildlife from blinds. Today, Gridley is growing and changing, becoming livelier, more active, and more festive than ever before. You can see it in the historic buildings being restored to their former glory. You can see it in the new storefronts blossoming throughout the area. And you can see it in the partnerships among retailers, developers, the community, and the city.