ContentsPutah and Cache: Woodland

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Second and Main Street

Robert Thayer

The Woodland stop takes us to Second and Main. Woodland is the Yolo County seat of government, and a regional center for commerce linked to the rich agricultural lands that surround it. Woodland began life as a single store, named "Yolo City", built by settler Henry Wyckoff on high ground at the crossing of two roads, one to Sacramento and the other to Fremont, a now vanished town near the confluence of the Feather and Sacramento rivers. The site of Woodland was surrounded by extensive valley oak forests whose wood provided fuel and building materials for the town's first settlers. Frank S. Freeman, a native of Missouri who had come to California and made money mining gold, purchased Wyckoff's store and laid out a town, building a post office, express agency, blacksmith shop, butcher shop, gristmill, and numerous other stores. After building these, he simply waited for the customers and residents to arrive. They did, and after each enterprise became successful, he sold it. Freeman married Gertrude Swain, who is credited for naming the town post office "Woodland" after the oaks. Bridges replaced ferries across Cache Creek. A newspaper from Knight's Landing moved to Woodland in 1864, and became the Yolo County Democrat in 1867. In 1869, the California Pacific Railroad "stretched" its planned north-south route between Davisville (now Davis) and Marysville westward to serve Woodland. After that, Woodland boomed, partly due to its relatively flood-protected location, while Fremont, the former county seat, was abandoned by residents discouraged after continually battling rising water each winter.

The Woodland Opera House, on the north side of Main Street by Second, was rebuilt after a fire devastated Woodland in 1892. Purchased by the Yolo County Historical Society in 1971, it was renovated and in 1980 was designated a State Historic Park. Today, the building is a theater and museum.

Cache Creek passes about three miles north of Woodland. Just east of the town of Yolo, French fur trappers stashed supplies by the creek bank. This "cache" at French Camp, as the place become known, is the origin of the creek's name.

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Lower Cache Creek
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Salmon in Cache Creek
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Willow Slough and Creeks' Ends