Three years ago I wrote a column about the development and the naming of the city of Merced's streets.
I talked about M Street and its connection to city founder Charles Henry Huffman and Bellevue Ranch; tree-lined 21st Street, which helped Merced earn the title "Tree City USA;" and N Street, which used to be called Palm Avenue because of the palm trees planted along it in 1905 by the Native Daughters of the Golden West.
But there were two other streets with documentation I could not discover -- L Street, which is Canal Street; and K Street, which was known as Alameda Street.
Although the city streets were named alphabetically starting with the letter "G" and went on westward, in the early days some of streets such as M and N had special names.
As reported in the Merced Star on May 12, 1887, "On petition, the Board of Supervisors last week passed an order changing the names of the following streets in Merced: Seventeenth street will hereafter be known as Main street, K as Alameda, and L as Canal street."
I knew that Canal Street's name had something to do with the Crocker-Huffman Canal that started at the Merced River and delivered water from Lake Yosemite to Merced, but I was not able to find evidence to prove it.
Recently, as I was doing research for the upcoming exhibit about Merced County irrigation history, I found a map titled, "Merced Water System." It shows a canal from Lake Yosemite to 12th Street by way of L Street.
The map is part of the Crocker-Huffman Land and Water Company Map Book compiled in the 1910s.
Lake Yosemite, a reservoir built to supply water to the city, was completed in 1887 (the same year that the Supervisors renamed L Street) and water from the main canal was released into the new reservoir on Feb. 1, 1888. Canal Street served as the main route for bringing water into the city. For example, 9 out 51 fire hydrants in Merced were located on Canal Street, according to the 1898 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps.
While I am glad that I solved the mystery of the Canal Street name, I am still bothered that of by K Street, once known as Alameda Street.
There are only two ways of naming streets in Merced -- in honor of a well-known person such as Charles Henry Huffman (Huffman Avenue) or after a physical feature of the street such as palm trees (Palm Avenue).
Given those options, Alameda could be someone's last name.
History books, city directories and newspapers yielded no clues. I then went through voter registrations of that period, but couldn't find anybody with a last name of Alameda.
I did find John Joseph Almeda (or Alameda) who lived in South Merced in the 1880s. He was a native of Portugal and became naturalized on April 21, 1887. His occupation was listed as laborer. Since this was the only reference I found for him, I doubt the street was renamed in his honor.
Another thought, it is also possible that the name is descriptive since alameda in Spanish means a tree-lined walkway. No evidence was found for this explanation, though.
So, I need help. Maybe you know why K Street was renamed Alameda Street in 1887. If you do, please contact me at Courthouse Museum by phone at (209) 723-2401 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Sarah Lim is director of the Courthouse Museum.