Locke, California

Historic Chinese Town

The town of Locke, CA was added to the registry of National Historical places by the Sacramento County Historical Society on August 2, 1970. Once a lively place, Locke is now mostly uninhabited and seems to have more dogs and stray cats than people.

Joe Shoong school at corner of Locke and Main Streets

The first building you see, as you enter the town on Locke Street, is the yellow school building on the right, which was built in 1915; it was first used as the Kuomintang Party hall, as well as a Chinese school. It is named after Joe Shoong, the National Dollar Store millionaire, who acquired the building in 1926 and established a free school there, along with many other schools for Chinese students in America. Before Joe Shoong bought the building, a tuition of $2.50 per month had been charged. The school building, which is no longer used, is open to the public and has a convenient public restroom for tourists.

Entrance to Chinese school is on Main Street

The children of Locke attended public school in nearby Walnut Grove, then studied at the Joe Shoong school from 5 p.m until 8 p.m. After Chinese families began leaving Locke in the late 1980ies, the school was closed.

Interior of Joe Shoong School which is now a museum

The main drag, and the heart of Locke, is Main Street where half of the town's buildings are located. Many of these ramshackle buildings are now boarded up, but there are still plenty of places for tourists to visit. Main Street is one-way with parking on the right-hand side only.

East side of Main Street, looking south

In the 1950ies, the state government of California forced the gambling houses in Locke to close down, causing many of the merchants to move out. As the young Chinese residents became better educated, they moved to the cities and the town of Locke began to decline.

Several buildings on Main Street are boarded up

Old Store has false front on top of building

Leaning Buildings

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