In 1853, a United States Post Office was established here at the crossroads of what was then called the
town of Dos Piedras, meaning two rocks in English. Somehow it became singular, Two Rock,
in translation, and in the naming of the Post Office.
Dos Piedras goes way back to pre-Spanish days when the rocks served as a landmark and reference
point along the ancient Indian trail that ran from Bodega Bay to the inland valleys and into the
Sierra. The trails, tend to follow along the ridgelines and high ground because most of the flat
land was swampy and muddy. Dos Piedras was referred to time and time again in the earliest annals
of Native American migrations and seasonal travels.
The Dos Piedras trail was used extensively by the earliest Spanish explorers and settlers,
traveling to and from Bodega Bay, the only seaport of any consequence between San Francisco
and Fort Ross. This route was followed by such men as General Jose Figueroa, wisest and
best-loved of all California governors, and the gallant and learned Don Juan Alvarado,
who came in 1838, the year before he became governor. With the latter, came
Mariano G. Vallejo who was later made commander of the northern frontier with the rank of general.
The old battle cry of the Spaniards was "Santiago"! (St. James was the patron saint of the Conquistadors.)
When they built a military outpost in Two Rock, on the old Indian trail, they called it Santiago de las
Dos Piedras, St. James of the Two Rocks. They believed that here they must stem the Russian advance
with the settlement of this area.
General Vallejo’s duty was to settle and create a barrier of defense against the Russians who, by
then, had become well established just to the northwest at Fort Ross. Taking the ancient landmark
of the two rocks as central point, he granted four huge ranchos, all cornering at this spot.
To the south, lay the great Rancho Laguna de la Santiago, containing 25,000 acres and embracing the
heart of Two Rock valley, with headquarters at Santiago, and all of Chileno Valley. This magnificent
gift, of a kind unparalleled in the history of any government’s generosity to a single citizen, was
granted to a soldier of the ranks, Bartolome Bojorques. His stepdaughter, Seniorita Talamantes,
married a Chilean, who brought up his retainers from Chile when he came to manage the Laguna Rancho,
hence the name Chileno Valley.
A young Captain, Juan Nepomisena Padilla, only 21 years old, was made guardian of these northern
trails and to him was granted the great rancho which touched the two rocks to the east. It was
called El Roblar de la Miseria, The Oak of the Misery. This rancho contained 16,000 acres,
reaching from Two Rock, through Liberty and over to Roblar and Hessel.
General Vallejo must have had a special fondness for young Captain Padilla, for besides the
princely rancho, he gave him the Rancho Balsa de Tomales, which cornered with the Blucher
and Robler Ranchos at the two rocks. The name means "the Pool of the Tomales Indians,"
which Mrs. Rose Linebaugh, an early Two Rock historian believed referred to Burbank’s Lake.
Some of the boundaries of these ranchos are now difficult to trace, but there still
remains evidence of the old Spanish ditches which were once used to mark boundaries.
The Spanish loved open fields so, if they had to make a boundary, they made their men
dig a ditch. These ditches were wide and deep enough to turn cattle. One of them is
still visible on the Linebaugh place.
The Blucher Rancho was granted to a Swiss saloonkeeper who made the first survey of the
town of Yerba Buena, which later became San Francisco. He named the rancho for his mother,
Madame Blucher, and soon sold it to Captain Stephen Smith of Bodega. Smith deeded half of
it to his heirs in Baltimore, thus causing much trouble later when parcels were sold to the
American settlers and title was sought.
Many other travelers of note passed between our two rocks during their early history. Three,
surely worthy of mention, were the beautiful Princess Helena de Gazarin, wife of the last
governor of Fort Ross. She became a permanent part of our history when the mountain and,
later, the town of St. Helena were named for her. It is also well documented that in 1846
the great pathfinder, General John C. Fremont, galloped up the trail between the rocks with
his wild band of horsemen, one of whom was Kit Carson.
Many of the early American settlers originally came from Germany, Denmark, Italy, Ireland,
and Switzerland. Many of their descendants still live in the valley today.