What is history of some road names?

Published: Monday, Apr. 22, 2013 - 5:06 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013 - 10:36 am

We found some really interesting information on road names at the Milliken Museum. Former curator Ralph Milliken left a wealth of information about local history -- including tidbits on road names -- in his extensive collection of writings and interviews.

According to Milliken's research, sometimes the roads were named as a result of complaints or requests from residents. For instance P Street in Los Banos was changed to Adams when Mrs. Makin said she didn't like living on a street that sounded like "pee." Hence, the name was changed to Adams Avenue.

Ortigalita Road also has an interesting story. According to Milliken, Ortigalita was originally called Slaughterhouse Road because the road led south from the Los Banos Abattoir to the mouth of Ortigalita Creek, where it debouches (flows out) onto the plains.

At the time, the Hillyer family had just built their country house on this road and Mrs. Hillyer was horrified one day when her mail was addressed to Mrs. Hillyer, Slaughterhouse Road. She persisted in asking that the street name be changed until it finally was. The road was renamed Ortigalita Road.

However, the name picked was actually misspelled. The name is Spanish, according to Milliken's research, and means "little stickers." Up in the hills along the banks of the creek, there used to grow little thistles, and the early Spanish explorers had given the creek the name Ortigalito. Years after, United States government surveyors, misspelled the name of the creek on their map, calling it Ortigalita Creek instead. The surveyors' spelling stuck, and today it is still known as Ortigalita.

Now onto Deep Well Road. This road was named after a man known as Deep Well Anderson. Lloyd Anderson used to drill wells for a living. But his well drilling outfit was "so small and rickety that he couldn't drill a deep well if he had wanted to," wrote Mr. Milliken. So as a joke, he got the nickname of Deep Well Anderson.

When cattle barons Henry Miller and Charles Lux subdivided some land east of Los Banos a few miles out, Mr. Anderson got a hold of a piece along the north side of Pacheco Highway. Here he built a house and raised his family. In time, a short road running north and south opened up. That road was named in honor of Lloyd Deep Well Anderson.

Finally comes Mervel Road. This road was named after the Merval Pump Station to which the road led. The pump station was named by the combination of two words, Mer, the engineer who constructed the station, and Val after Valley Pipe Line Co., the owners of the station. The name of the road during the years became misspelled: Mervel Road. It remains that way today.

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