Clovis Kiwanis Club
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Community


Some of the first non-native settlers in the Clovis area were gold rush miners of 1849. As the gold ran out, they established small farms in the foothills. After the Civil War, large cattle grazing lands were developed. Many early-day cattlemen have descendents who are still Clovis-area ranchers to this day.

As the railroad trusts began charging higher rates, Valley farmers sought an alternative to shipping their grains to market. In 1890, a 26-year-old Chicago railroad developer named Marcus Pollasky and a group of prominent Fresno citizens raised more than $100,000 to build the independent San Joaquin Valley Railroad. The tracks extended from near downtown Fresno, north to Millerton (now Friant), and were planned to go on to Truckee and the world markets.

Clovis Cole sold the land for $4,000 in gold coin, to the railroad. As the first tracks were being lain, Pollasky and his investors founded the city in 1891 and named it after the man who gave so much to the Valley, Clovis Cole.

At the same time the railroad was being constructed, a group of Michigan lumbermen began acquiring thousands of acres of timber in the mountains east of Clovis. Eventually they build a dam on Stephenson Creek, which is now Shaver Lake. From the foot of the dam, they built a 42-mile flume to carry lumber to a sawmill located on the site that is now the Clovis Rodeo Grounds.

A huge lumber industry grew in the empty fields of Clovis. A planning mill, box factory, warehouses, dry kiln, offices, woorkhorse stables, pastures and cottages were built. Saloons and other entertainment venues followed. This activity attracted more and more developers. The Shepherd and Teague Land Company was formed and gained control of much of the land around Clovis, which was subdivided and sold by the company's salesman, H.G. DeWitt.

As the years passed, and the little town of Clovis continued to grow, families chose to make Clovis their home because of its values. Quality education, family values, hard work, healthy outdoor lifestyle and community pride became a way of life.

In 1914, Lucrecia McMurtry and Bessie Merriman started the Hometown Family Festival, which featured a parade, picnic, games and contests. It was so popular that it became and annual event and eventually became what is now the Clovis Rodeo, one of the biggest and most well known event of its kind in the west.
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