Legacy Communities: Hood
The town of Hood has experienced two incarnations, the first as a shipping town named Richland and the second as a railroad town. With the renovation of two downtown Hood landmarks, it appears to be time for Hood to be reborn as a new hot spot for food, drink, wine tasting and music.
The Birth of a Railroad Town
If not for railroad tycoon Edward Harriman, there never would have been a Hood, just a forgotten river landing town named Richland. Hood was built in the early 20th Century on the remnants of Richland, a town that began in 1860 as a shipping site for grain and at its peak boasted a warehouse, hotel, grocery store, church, school, and post office. Within 20 years, however, Delta crops shifted from grain to fruit, and Richland experienced a slow and steady decline. The post office closed in 1888.
Enter Edward Harriman, who owned the Southern Pacific and several other railroads. Harriman envisioned a picturesque “Netherlands Route” that would eventually connect Sacramento to San Francisco by rail and steamboat (see the Fall 2013 Delta Voice for more on the Netherlands Route). In 1909, Southern Pacific enlisted Madison Barnes and William Chapman to create the Hood Investment Company, which developed a new town at the site of the former Richland post office. The town was named after William Hood, Southern Pacific’s Chief Construction Engineer.
Within a few years, Southern Pacific built a depot and a spur down to a wharf along the railroad levee. Commercial buildings and businesses, including a large packing shed, seed farms, and two creameries, opened in or near Hood for easy access to the railroad. The town soon had a grocery, hardware store, café, church, and post office. The crown jewel was the Hotel Netherlands, which was part of the Southern Pacific’s effort to sell Hood as a vacation destination in Harriman’s vision of the “Netherlands of America.”
A Place for Food, Drink, and Fun!
Today, Hood has nearly 300 residents, many whose families have lived here for generations. The post office remains, and there is a market and a community park. At the main intersection of Hood-Franklin Road and River Road, two properties have undergone dramatic transformations:
• Hood Supply Company: A new restaurant and bar occupy the location of the former Delta Blues Bar and Grill. The Hood Supply Co. features American cuisine, cocktails, and live music. The name comes from the building’s original tenant, a combination gas station, soda fountain, and general store.
• River Road Exchange: The River Road Exchange was originally home to a bustling fruit shipping and processing facility. Currently, the 100,000 square foot space is being renovated, with some renovation completed, for retail use, including wineries, distilleries, and breweries. The owners envision a second phase that will restore the original waterfront, boathouse/steamer shed and pear lockers (with river views!).
There remain major challenges for Hood, particularly given its location near the proposed Delta Tunnel(s) intakes, with construction impacts projected to last more than a decade. Still, in the face of such a looming uncertainty, we applaud the Delta spirit of innovation and adaptation in the development of these properties and look forward to Hood’s next renewal as a great place for food, drink, live music, and fun.