Area Code 209 - Information about California


In the year 1769, atwater's fort stood on what is now called Riverside Drive. On the west side of it was an older building that was abandoned in 1849 and was added onto by Atwater and a couple of others.

On May 5, 1851, fire destroyed the former building, burned the old mansion down and leveled the new building. Atwater died in 1864 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery, right beside his friend, Henry M. Norris. Just north of Norris was the modern-day home of Francis Stanton.

In 1868, to honor the Sonoma County residents who had died in the last years of the Gold Rush, the name "Atwater's Fort" was changed to California's Hotel at Ceres. It is not certain how long California's Hotel at Ceres was in operation, or when Francis Stanton sold it to Roscoe T. Ames, a partner in the Ceres Coal Company. It is also not clear when the California Hotel at Ceres was naming the Atwater's Hotel. It may have been sometime in the late 1870s.

John Atwater was born in San Diego in 1800 and died in Fresno in 1872. He came from the family of a Southern California mining engineer. He was known as a man of the West and a man of action.

Atwater may have owned property at Ceres before the mining boom began in California. It was probably a thriving town before the 1849 fire and it may have housed miners before Atwater purchased the Ceres plantation. It was probably built after his purchase and his name may have been attached to it after his death.

Atwater's Fort was constructed for the Ceres coal mines to use in the silver mining business. He built an administrative building and on the south side he built the hotel. It is possible that the hotel was named after him. On the south side of the building, near the main entrance, was a stage coach that took people to and from the mining area.

When Harry Allen came to work for Atwater, they found that their drilling methods were causing pollution and they wanted to try different methods. They had no experience with clean water or soil and decided to help out in a nearby farmer's field. One day, while cutting brush to clear the way, an ox got stuck in the muck and couldn't be freed. The ox ran away, but the farmer and his wife sawed off the hind legs and threw the box into a fence post pit.

Friedrich worked with the farmer to find a way to bury the ox in the fields, but the farmer thought it was a horrid idea and refused to have it done. When the couple next went to collect the ox, they were so impressed by Friedrich's vision and horsemanship that they hired him as a blacksmith for the farm. Friedrich built a series of mounds to bury the ox in.