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Taylor Road winds its way through Loomis history

By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of three stories on people and places whose influence on the community has earned them recognition as Loomis icons. ICONS OF THE COMMUNITY — This week: Taylor Road is a historic artery through Loomis. Sept. 17: Main Drug has been a Loomis mainstay for 65 years. Wherever you’re going, you can’t travel through Loomis without using Taylor Road. The iconic thoroughfare, once a state highway, stretches from Auburn to Roseville. Sections of it are called Pacific Street and Ophir Road. Getting a state highway through Placer County was not an easy task, as chronicled in “Lincoln Highway: The Route through Loomis, Penryn, Ophir and Newcastle,” written by the late Barbara Nichols in collaboration with the Loomis Basin Historical Society. In the 1900s, when the automobile was gaining a foothold, Taylor Road was still a wagon road with tire tracks. But as early as 1912, there was a push to build a transcontinental highway – the Lincoln Highway – tying together the East and West coasts. At the same time, Placer County citizens successfully pressured state representatives to build a state highway to get from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. They also lobbied for the Lincoln Highway to piggyback the state highway through the county. In her 1998 book, Nichols quotes an April 1916 article from the Placer Herald: “They began spreading concrete on the State Highway today just below Halboms (where the Wise Power House is on Ophir Road). The road bed is 5 feet wide, 4 inches thick, with borders 2-1/2 inches wide, and made of Portland cement.” Another entry describes the route as going “along Pacific Street in Rocklin and then through Loomis and up Rippey Road to Penryn and around where the Valencia Club is now and up Sisley Road. (This is one of the few cemented parts of the original highway left in our area.) Then the road went up what is now Taylor Road and up Old Highway Road in Newcastle and down through the little subway on the other side of Newcastle,” Nichols wrote. The advent of more national highways, and the numbering system, meant the loss of the Lincoln Highway moniker and the change to Highway 40. In 1960, when Interstate 80 replaced Highway 40, the Placer County Board of Supervisors named the road for Porter Lee Taylor. Taylor, who died in 1950, had been a Loomis resident since 1903. He was also a fruit farmer and manager of American Fruit Growers fruit sheds, including the shed now called the Blue Goose. Walter Taylor still lives on Moonshine Orchard, on the same where he was born in 1925. Taylor recalls that when he was a 9 or 10 years old, he would take his dad’s horses from the farm, on the Penryn/Loomis border, down Taylor Road into Loomis to the blacksmith. “He’d tie about four of them together, and I’d ride one down to Loomis and take them to the blacksmith shop, which is where US Bank is now and get them shod. Beth Nute Enright, is the daughter of Marguerite Taylor Nute, another of Porter Taylor’s children. As a student, Enright said she would travel Taylor Road daily to get to Loomis Grammar School and then Del Oro High School from her family’s Barton Road farm. Her father, Frank Nute, was also manager of what is now the Blue Goose Fruit Shed. “We were in town all the time,” Nute said. “I can remember that it was a big event when the first stoplight went in at Taylor Road. Until then everything was four-way stops and you would take your life into your hands,” crossing the road, she said. Nute has also noticed the increase in traffic through the decades. When Taylor Road was a highway, she said, “It was just lots of cars, but nothing compared to now. “People drove slower and drove more safely” then, she said. One thing Walt Taylor misses along Taylor Road is all the fruit stands, such as Alice’s, where farmers sold their produce. Blue Goose Produce, in the fruit shed, continues the tradition by offering fruits and vegetables from local farms. “We’re carrying on the heritage of farming, and we still use the shed to pack out our mandarin harvest every year,” Foley said.