If you are a long time Bay area resident you have undoubtedly passed Vacaville’s Nut Tree dozen’s or even hundreds of times on route to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and beyond. And it’s likely that you stopped to visit the toy store, restaurant, airplane collection and gift shop, and maybe ride on the Nut Tree Railroad.
Helen and Edwin “Bunny” Power began with a roadside fruit stand in 1921 that quickly grew into one of California’s first major roadside attractions. Edwin’s brother Joe operated a miniature railroad that traveled over nearly 1-1/2 miles of track and carried more than a million passengers between 1952 and 1964. The train hosted many famous people including future presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, Child Star Shirley Temple, California Gov. Pat Brown and sound barrier breaker Chuck Yeager who was content with the trains top speed of 20 mph.
It’s unbelievable that the original Nut Tree has been gone more than 20 years closing in 1996, however a smaller version of the railroad survived and old engine number 5 still carries happy passengers twice around a small loop that encloses several kiddie rides. The toy store, oversize rocking horses and welcoming restaurant are just a memory and the surrounding orchards have been replaced with a popular dining and shopping destination that still draws travelers from busy highway 80.
We can’t bring back the past but we can take comfort in our memories of simpler times. The same can be said about UCH as your Asset Team grapples with evaluating the options of potentially using our property to achieve financial sustainability. The growth years of the 1950’s and 60’s will not be returning however we can take comfort that we are in an enviable position because our founders had the foresight to purchase our large parcel of land including our undeveloped “meadow” on Mission Blvd. and that the church leaders who followed were diligent in paying off loans and mortgages. It’s certainly not clear where the future may bring us but we will keep you appraised of our journey. -Bill