Tres Pinos, in California's San Benito County, today is a small, quiet town. The population is currently listed as 500, on the sign as you enter town. But it was once a flourishing boom-town full of energy.
Following California statehood in 1848, the state was rapidly settled. Rural areas, such as Tres Pinos, became subdivided into vast farms and ranches. San Benito County became an important hay, grain, and cattle producing area. But, there were very few people.
In 1873, an important event put Tres Pinos on the map: Southern Pacific put a railroad station here. This made Tres Pinos the trading, shipping, and commerce center for the hay, cattle, and grain from the southern part of the county. This area was known for its high quality grain products.
These events parallel Tres Pinos with the "Persian Gulf". Where the Persian Gulf supplied the oil used to power the transportation and industry of the twentieth century, Tres Pinos supplied hay and grain for the transportation of the nineteenth century. At the time, San Francisco was a large consumer of Tres Pinos hay and Grain.
In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Tres Pinos was a prosperous shipping center, with a distinctive flavor of the old west. The town was outfitted with wooden sidewalks, store buildings with false fronts, hitching posts, and wooden watering troughs for horses. Among the businesses in downtown Tres Pinos were seven enormous grain warehouses, a scale house, six saloons (one that was illegal), bullfighting arena, and large hotel (as well as rumored bordellos).
In 1944, the railroad discontinued its run to Tres Pinos and dismantled the station. Tres Pinos became a quiet rural community, in the shadow of Hollister.
In 1989, construction began on the Stonegate community in Tres Pinos. Stonegate is a gated community of single-family homes, each on acreage. Although controversial with Tres Pinos residents at first, the new Tres Pinos blends well with the old. Because of the large lots, the area is preserved for the future with much open space and the flavor of the old west.
Portions of this history have been excerpted from "East of the Gabilans", by Marjorie Pierce