History of Waterford: In 1856, W. W. Baker came to California from Berryville, Arkansas. He purchased 160 acres by the Tuolumne River. Upon his return to Berryville, he formed a wagon train and returned to California with his bride, Caroline. Upon reaching the Sierra Nevada mountains, the wagon train became stuck in the snow. During this time, Caroline gave birth to twin girls, Alice and Belle; both lived full lives. The town of Bakersville was formed in 1857 in honor of Mr. Baker. In 1870, US Postal Office requested the town change its’ name due to confusion with other “Baker” towns. Mr. Baker had a ferry that crossed the Tuolumne River along with a mercantile. Members of the community suggested “Waterford” as when one crosses water, they ford the water. The name Waterford remains today. In 1891, the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Waterford crossing a wooden trestle bridge across the river and remained until 1976. The main crop in the early days was wheat. Other grains, fruit trees followed and even Erbs’ Fig Ranch which sent dried figs over the US. Waterford made the history books in 1948 with its’ Chateau Martin Winery. The processing plant sent “Largest Trainload of Wine in History Chateau Martin Winery in California to N.Y.C.” The Southern Pacific train had 25 cars of wine. The train was covered with a large banner and patriotic red, white, blue buntings. Photographers, a band and officials were present upon arrival in New York. The winery no longer exists. Today, Waterford is known as “The Gateway to Recreation” as it takes thousands to the lakes, reservoirs, hiking, fishing, camping and a backway up to Yosemite National Park.

Year Incorporated: Originally incorporated as Bakersville in 1857 and later incorporated as Waterford in November 1969.

Population: 8,456 (2010 Census)

Best Time To Visit Waterford: Based on the weather, the best time to visit Waterford is May - October, where the temperature is a beautiful sunny and 75 degrees!

Waterford is the "Gateway to Recreation": The city is the gateway to many places of interest including Turlock Lake State Recreation area, Lake Don Pedro Reservoir, Modesto Reservoir, New Melones Reservoir, La Grange Off Road Vehicle Recreation Area, and Yosemite National Park.

Historical Points of Interest in Waterford: The Waterford Historical Museum and the Tuolumne River.


Content generously provided by Holly Fielder, Region 14 Regional Vice President (RVP) for CCHS.  If you would like your city or town featured here, please contact Christine Esser in our administrative office at [email protected]!

More About Holly Fielder, Region 14 RVP

The above was written by Holly Fielder, RVP, region 14 (Stanislaus, Merced and Mariposa). My interest goes back to school where I took any course I could find related to history. I have been married for 46 years to my childhood sweetheart; no kids. I am a member of the Waterford Historical Society and served as Vice President and President for years. I am currently devoting my interest to CCHS as I believe in preservation of our history to educate the youth and honor those who came before us. In the future I hope to meet you all when we are able to do so.


Comments from fellow history lovers welcome below!


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commented 2021-02-02 19:47:43 -0800 · Flag
I like Holly’s article. I have visited Waterford and neighboring Oakdale.
published this page in Archives 2021-01-25 13:39:58 -0800