Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Spring Valley Ranch of J.P. Whitney by Runnels & Stateler, San Francisco
Collection Number: BANC PIC 1977.018--fALB
1 album (28 photographic prints) ; 28 x 34 cm.
28 digital objects
Runnels & Stateler, San Francisco
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Information for Researchers
Collection is available for use.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted
in writing to the Curator of Pictorial Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted
to research and educational purposes.
[Identification of item]
Spring Valley Ranch of J.P. Whitney by Runnels & Stateler, San Francisco, BANC PIC 1977.018--fALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Digital Representations Available
The Spring Valley Ranch photographs were purchased by The Bancroft Library in 1976.
Joel Parker Whitney (1835-1913) was born in Gardner, Massachusetts. Lured to California at the age of 17 by prospects of gold,
he tired quickly of the tedium of mining and joined a hunting party near San Francisco. He soon tired of hunting as well and
briefly joined his brothers' mercantile business in San Francisco before becoming an independent shipper. With the money earned
from his successful shipping business, Whitney was able to contribute sizable sums of money to his father's sheep ranch, known
as the Whitney Ranch, near Rocklin, California. When his father died in 1873, Whitney inherited the land and about 15,000
sheep from Australia. The sheep were larger and had heavier fleece than American sheep. He sold thousands of these sheep to
other ranchers as they continued breeding and the business became quite profitable.
Whitney's next project was to go to Colorado Territory for gold mining in 1865 -gold had been discovered there but had been
largely ignored. His interests turned to silver when the thousands of dollars worth of gold he purchased ended up containing
more silver than gold. He wrote a booklet entitled Silver Mining Regions of Colorado (said to have been instrumental in the
establishment of statehood for Colorado) and represented Colorado Territory in its mineral exhibition at the Paris Universal
Exposition of 1867, which won a gold medal and international recognition. Whitney's mining interests continued in Colorado
for years. Eventually he moved on to mines in New Mexico.
Whitney continued to visit the Whitney Ranch in California, also known as Spring Valley Ranch. He believed that irrigation
was a prime factor in land development, and tried to attract settlers to his properties with the enticement of modern irrigation.
He continued to acquire adjoining land, and used old ditches previously used for mining operations to bring water to the ranch.
He wrote another booklet, entitled
Fresh Water Tide Lands of California (1873), in which he described his vision of California's agricultural future as including the most modern farm machinery
and the ownership of farm lands by large corporations in the interests of funding state-of-the-art irrigation projects, which
small farmers could not afford to explore. Whitney systematically improved his land by reclamation, irrigation, and the commencement
of fruit and vineyard cultivation. His mansion at Spring Valley Ranch was known as "The Oaks," the building of which began
in 1884. After 1888 Whitney devoted most of his time and resources to Spring Valley Ranch, constructing roads on the property
and continuing his prospering sheep business. His many trips to Europe were evident -he cultivated the land with the addition
of English horses and with methods of grape cultivation from Spain. His last major land venture was the Placer County Citrus
Colony, which fully utilized his irrigation and land development techniques.
Whitney had great impact on California and many other states through his investments in the building of the Union Pacific
Railroad, his sheep business and mining interests, and his countless innovative agricultural and land development projects
which changed the face of agriculture.
Miller, Richard A.
Fortune Built by Gun ; the Joel Parker Whitney Story.
Walnut Grove, CA
The Mansion Publishing Co.,
Scope and Content
This collection consists of an album of 28 photographic prints of Joel Parker Whitney's Spring Valley Ranch in Placer County,
California. The photographs were taken by the firm of Runnels & Stateler of San Francisco, circa 1889. Included are photographs
of the ranch and ranch properties in oak-covered foothills; 2 photographs of the vineyard; 1 photograph of Whitney under the
trees; 3 photographs of unidentified children; and many photographs of "The Oaks," Whitney's mansion, including exterior and
interior views. Captions are printed below each photograph.