Situated near the Stanislaus River, Oakdale, so named for the groves of oak trees that line the hills, boasts an impressive history. In 1848, gold was discovered along the Stanislaus River by the Indians living in the area. The stampede to mine the gold sent representatives of the Stockton and Visalia Railroad to the location that is now Oakdale. After purchasing land they were able to extend the railroad from Stockton to the gateway of the mines. Andrew Jackson Patterson owned a large tract of land there, a parcel of which he offered to the railroad, and Oakdale came into being in November, 1871.
In 1853, Francis Marion Cottle, along with his uncle and his son, drove a herd of cattle to this section, made it their home, and thus became the first settlers. In 1865, they purchased thousands of acres of land east of the present Oakdale railroad tracks. The area became part of the newly created Stanislaus County on April 1, 1854.
As the railroad cleared the land along the river edge to make way for the tracks, some of the magnificent oaks were used to build the Stockton State Hospital in 1854, one of the first in the state.
With the railroad extended now to Oakdale, the town quickly became a freight center that created businesses for the town. Blacksmith, wagon shops and livery stables began operating to service the wagon teams, hotels, chop houses, and general stores opened to accommodate the teamsters. Farmers raised hay and barley to feed the animals. By 1880, there were five hundred residents, and 1886 saw one thousand inhabitants including three doctors and a dentist. Churches were established; the Methodist Church had its first pastor in 1881, followed by the Free Methodist church in 1891. As churches were built, they began to play an important role in the development of the town. Prior to 1900, the social life of the community consisted of various clubs; literary, choral, dramatic, dancing and skating. Growth meant education, so an elementary school was built in 1881 with three teachers to tutor the students.
Oakdale was incorporated into a city in 1906. An irrigation system was brought in by 1909, enabling ranchers to plant fruit and almond trees, followed by stockmen raising sheep, cattle, hogs and poultry, and operating dairy farms. Today, Oakdale is diverse, being both agricultural and industrial.
With the Stanislaus River and Woodward Reservoir nearby, recreation and outdoor sports are available to everyone. The waters offer rafting, swimming, sailing, boating and fishing. For those who prefer terra firma, there are several riverside parks for camping. As professional rodeo men and women moved into Oakdale, the interest in rodeos grew. The Saddle Club started putting on rodeos in the spring, and the city became known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”.
Oakdale residents have much to be proud of. . .their agriculture, industry, well-kept homes, and the peaceful, picturesque countryside that brought so many of their forefathers to this location.
Credits for this article go to original author via this link, https://www.oakdalechamber.com/history/