For many years, one could drive from Arbuckle to Grimes without realizing you entered and exited a town called College City.
That, however, is no longer the case.
Today, a large monument sign sits on the southside of Tule Road on a gravel ridge, overlooking a newly planted almond orchard, and bears the name of the town and the year it was settled: 1854.
“A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this,” said resident Tim Brumley, a retired Pierce Joint Unified School District educator, who spearheaded the monument project in 2019. “It’s taken us about a year.”
College City is a small community, 100 hundred people or so, but its place in Colusa County history is noteworthy.
The area was settled by pioneer farmers, including Andrew Peirce (original spelling), of Massachusetts, who lived on the edge of the tules and raised sheep on land granted to him by patent from President Andrew Johnson.
Upon his death in 1871, Peirce willed the land over for the construction of Pierce Christian College (1876-1894), which would attract about 100 students annually to study on the beautiful two-building, well-manicured campus.
While the college, for which the little town was named, would pass into history, College City bustled with activity well into the next century.
At the turn of the 20th century, the village had two general merchandise stores, a shoe shop, one bakery, a drug store, two blacksmiths, one doctor’s office, a notary public, one harness shop, and a hotel.
For more than 100 years, College City, like most rural towns, sustained itself – and often thrived – through a mix of agriculture and light manufacturing.
But after decades of rural-to-urban migration, and the advent of modern technology and transportation, College City, like most rural towns, declined in population and industry.
The population today consists mainly of long-established farming families who came together well into the 21st century to see that the town, at least, had an entry sign.
Brumley said the idea for the road sign recognizing the town of College City started in July of 2019 when he ran the idea past Santiago and Cundi Fernandez, and then to Supervisor Merced Corona.
“Everyone I talked to thought it was a good idea,” Brumley said. “So we took our idea to the Arbuckle Revitalization Committee.”
The ARC took the group under their wing so donors could benefit from their non-profit status.
“The sign would not have been possible without them,” Brumley said.
The next step was a place to build, and they found an ideal location.
“We picked a location on Tule Road were the old railroad tracks were Located,” Brumley said. “The property belonged to Lee Traynham. We talked with Mr. Traynham and he generously donated that property for the sign project.
With the area needing to be prepared for the building of a brick structure, Clarke Ornbaun, Roy Traynham, and John Bailey donated their time and skill.
Local architect Valerie Ehrke donated her time to prepare the design, which was approved by the Colusa County Building Department.
The construction of the monument began in March 2020, but was delayed by weather and the lockdown due to the coronavirus. The project was completed Dec. 4, except for a few touchups around the base.
“Thanks to the financial donations by people in our area and from other parts of the country, without their help this project would not have been possible,” Brumley said, on behalf of the College City Committee. “We appreciate what everyone involved in this project has done. We now have a very nice road sign that the community of College City has been waiting 150 year for.” ♣