In the 1850s, Theodore Judah, an engineer for the Central California Railroad heard that the railroad was going to be built to the base of the Sierra Foothills in order to move supplies to the gold mining areas. Thinking he was making a wise investment, he bought the land around the area for $600. When the railroad plans were canceled he sold the property to Colonel Charles "Lincoln" Wilson, president of the railroad. Wilson immediately planned out the town of "Lincoln" and began selling lots.
Lincoln became a recognized town in 1859. Many buildings date back to the 1860-1900s. These buildings are now the sites of restaurants, shops and services.
By the early 1870 a fine quality of clay was discovered around Lincoln attracting Charles Gladding, a sanitation contractor who had moved out from Chicago to begin work on the sewer system of San Francisco. By 1875, Gladding, Peter McBean and George Chambers had raised $12,000 in gold to buy land and build a sewer pipe manufacturing plant. They later added architectural terra cotta providing the decorative elements for most of the buildings in San Francisco.
Extensive use of Gladding McBean architectural terra cotta has been used in both old and new construction in Lincoln. Lincoln is the home of America's ClayFest, an international juried ceramic art show. Tours of the show and of Gladding McBean, one of the oldest continuously operating manufacturers on the West Coast, are held of April through May each year. Other fun events are held throughout the year in downtown Lincoln's Beerman Plaza.
The historic downtown area is a great place to walk around and absorb the more than 150 year history of Lincoln. There are many restaurants and shops to visit. A self guided tour and antique picture book of Historic Downtown Lincoln ($10) is available from the Lincoln Area Archives and Museum, 472 E Street -(916) 253-9972; Sierra Hills Framing, Ste B, 531 G Street (916) 645-1644; The Place! Gallery, 505 G Street, (916) 434-0505. Part of the proceeds go to the Lincoln Area Archives and Museum.