Just south of the Sonoma Mission Inn, on the west side of Highway 12, Sierra Drive intersects.
At that corner stands one of our landmark oak trees. The tree is in front of the building that now houses Ross Drulis Cusenberry Architects. The building was built in 1966 for Sierra National Bank. It seems that the street, originally known as Meincke Road (more on that later), was renamed for the bank. The street also has the distinction of being on the former NWPRR right-of-way (the tracks were removed in 1942).
Our tree is a Valley Oak, Quercus lobata. According to the California Native Plant Society (http://calscape.org/), the Valley Oak ranges over the interior valleys of the State, and needs to be near a source of water (Lily Creek*, which flows down Arroyo Road, tunnels under the highway very near the tree.) It can grow to 100’ in height and live for as many as 500 years. The tree in question, which has three trunks, certainly could be 100 years old. We have a photograph of the tree (and building) from 1973, which shows it to be in pretty poor shape. In 2018 it appears to be much healthier.
*Thanks to Greg Larson for the creek name.
1973 top. 2018 bottom. Top photo courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
The tree may appear in some other historic photos.
Boyes Depot, 1930s, (approximately located in the parking lot behind the Plaza Center Building), looking north to Sonoma Mountain. The oak in the foreground is possibly the Sierra Drive tree.
Photo by Zan Stark, 1950s. The location is opposite Arroyo Road on the Highway.
Oaks are never more beautiful than in winter.
Next post: About Sierra Drive/Meincke Road.