Rosie Trolley Tour Santa Rosa

Rosie Trolley Tour Santa Rosa

Rosie Trolley Tour

I spent $25 on a history tour on the Rosie trolley on Friday — the money goes to the scholarship fund for summer camp for the local kids. I learned some things that were interesting to me: why St. Eugene’s is where it is. My guess is that, because it is adjacent to the Carillo adobe, and Carillo owned 40,000 acres, they contributed the land for the church. So Maria Carillo was considered a wealthy, well-connected land owner.

I wondered why St. Rose church was where it is, and why it is neither a Franciscan (Spanish) mission nor the seat of the Diocese of Santa Rosa.

Now I know that the Stonehouse on Hwy 12 was the boarding house for the Basalt quarry workers. The quarry was behind the Stonehouse. Basalt is a stone that is soft in the earth but becomes very hard when it dries out. The most profitable way to quarry it is with skilled workers who shape it when it is soft so that it is in ready-to-sell condition when it reaches the rail line. The quarry owner imported skilled Italian stonecutters to Santa Rosa.

He built a small rail line that went down what is now 4th St/9th St to connect the quarry to the main railroad line which ran parallel to Old Redwood Highway. St. Rose church is near the end of the quarry line and near the start of where the Italian neighborhood cropped up. The stone workers eventually bought property to build “shotgun-style” inexpensive houses on “the other side of the tracks.” The 9th St underpass is the start of the “Westside” neighborhood where the Italians lived. So I guess St. Rose was the Italian neighborhood church made of Basalt rock — not suitable for wealthy, landed Spanish people and new settlers from the East.

Other basalt rock buildings that survived the 1906 earthquake — which wiped out 3% of Santa Rosa’s population (and 1% of San Francisco’s population) — are the downtown train depot and the Hotel La Rose which was originally a 40-room boarding house, now a 25-room luxury hotel.

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