Granite Bay’s roots lead back to the early 1850's, when gold miners first settled the banks of the American River. According to retired Park Ranger Dave McGrath there were 37 gold mining settlements along both sides of the River.
In its earliest beginnings, it was known as “Granite Bar”, a small mining camp just below Horseshoe Bar. The North Fork Ditch, built by the Natoma Company between 1852 and 1954, not only allowed miners to surface mine gold, it continued to supply water to the area and attracted settlers who planted olive and almond orchards.
When the lake is low you can still find rows of stumps straight out from the Granite Bay boat launch ramp. Remains of the ditch can still be seen in places along the trail leading up the lake from Horseshoe Bar and along the water’s edge above the dam at low lake level. The sides of the ditch were concreted in 1925, which has helped to preserve its visibility.
Cattle ranchers also took advantage of availability of water and grassy slopes. “There were two major cattle ranges when I moved here in 1956” stated H.T.Newberry, a resident of Skyway. Mooney was one and Grant Bender was the other. “A big chunk of their property was condemned by the government so they could fill the lake” he explained. The remainder of the ranches were subdivided and sold off to people moving into the area.
Granite Bay Vista, an early subdivision by John Mercurio and Louis Gavino, probably helped make the name popular according to Niel Lester, who built a home in the tract with her husband in 1962. Things have changed, naturally said Lester. Douglas Blvd. used to be called Rocky Ridge Road east of Sunrise Blvd.
For most newcomers, Rocky Ridge has no significance since most of the ridge has been demolished with the widening and development along Douglas Blvd. Granite Bay didn’t become the official name of the area until July 28, 1987. Until then the expanding housing developments along this section of the lake were just as apt to be referred to as Folsom Lake and were included in Roseville’s sphere of influence out to Barton Road for Government Planning purposes.
Residents of the area felt the goal and lifestyle of Roseville was not consistent with their own and placed the proposition before the County Board of Supervisors to be recognized as the unincorporated community of Granite Bay. Then Assemblyman, Tim Leslie, issued a proclamation and with County Supervisor’s approval the community became officially known as Granite Bay.
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