Today’s California Mural Project post focuses on one specific mural found in the Central California Valley town of Manteca. Manteca is approximately 15 miles south of the City of Stockton and, more importantly to its settlement, close to the route taken by pioneers crossing the plains looking for a better life in the free state of California.
In 1861, 19 year-old Joshua Cowell arrived in Manteca and bought 1,000 acres in what is now downtown Manteca. In 1873, the Central Pacific Railroad laid track directly through the area. The residents wanted to refer to their new train station as Cowell Station, but there was already a Cowell Station near Tracy. So, the residents agreed to change the name of the community, choosing Monteca as the new name. This was misprinted as Manteca by the railroad, and the misspelled version was eventually accepted as the name of the town.
In 1918, Manteca was incorporated as a city and Joshua Cowell became its first mayor. The corner of Main Street and Yosemite Avenue was once the center of Joshua Cowell’s estate. The mural Crossroads depicts this intersection as it was in 1918.
Crossroads is one of approximately 30 murals in Manteca and, at 20 feet tall by 77 feet wide, is the largest. Mural artist Dave Gordon painted it in 2003. Gordon has more than 20 years experience as a muralist painting his first mural in 1979. His murals grace the communities of Santa Monica, Eagle Rock, Venice, Sausalito, Healdsburg and Santa Rosa to name a few.
See more on my California Mural Project in the next edition of Nancy Gross’s The Bubble to be published soon if she receives enough donations. The Bubble is available at more than 50 locations in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties! For more of Gordon’s murals, see his website.