East County resident Carol Jensen has released a photographic history of Oakley on behalf of the East Contra Costa Historical Society called “Oakley Through Time.”
The settlement and development of Oakley is the story of a thriving California pioneer town. Nestled in the San Joaquin Delta, the area quickly became San Francisco’s easternmost frontier for land speculation, agricultural production and immigration. By 1900, land speculators enticed Portuguese, Spanish and Italian immigrants to settle in Oakley and establish families. Located away from the deep water of San Francisco Bay, Oakley became a railroad town along the Santa Fe line. Here the stories of immigration and community development played out as they have in small towns throughout the West. Twentieth century wars, food production and changing transportation methods reshaped the tightly knit community throughout the years.
“Oakley Through Time” provides a local history of a town as well as insights into immigrant culture and California identity. Presented in vintage photographs from important state and local historical society archives is the evolving and endearing community of Oakley. These images showcase the progression of a small California town in the era of real estate speculation, horse farms and railroad produce terminals to self-sustaining San Francisco Bay Area suburb.
Jensen, a native resident of eastern Contra Costa County and history graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, discovers the history of the California San Joaquin Delta, collecting early twentieth-century ephemera and documenting the cultural history of the area from those who lived, farmed, recreated and visited the California Delta. The fruits of her historical search are found at the East Contra Costa Historical Society and Museum in Knightsen.
“Oakley Through Time” is set for release July 29.