WILLOWS: THE OASIS
The time is the mid 1800s: Fifteen miles northwest of Princeton there was a small grove of willow trees that stood out as an oasis in the dry plains of the Central Valley. Travelers from river ranches to the foothills used this grove of trees as a landmark on their western journey. The grove was soon called 'The Willows'.
At Willow and Walker Creeks, a small lake was formed by springs and the willow and cottonwood trees stayed green during the long, hot summers. The trees furnished shade for the ambling cattle of Granville P. Swift, who had a stock ranch at 'The Willows' in 1840. Land along the Sacramento River was first settled and by the late 1850's newcomers to the Valley began to settle near the foothills and along creek banks, rejecting the dry plains.
Willow Creek soon attracted enough people that by the 1860's the village of Kanawha waas created and in 1871, a US Post Office was established at the Swift's adobe. By the 1870's the plains around 'The Willows' was also becoming settled by farmers. Land could be purchased from $4 to $6 acre. In August 1876 the Willows Grange was organized when J.M. Zumwalt came from Dixon with his family and settled where the town of Willows would later be.
William Johnson and Moses Hochheimer opened the first store located northeast of the present intersection of Tehama and Walnut in 1876. The opening was a double celebration by the townsfolk, as it marked the birth of the town and also the nation's centennial. Perhaps the true birth of the town was September 5,1876. At this time, Daniel Zumwalt deeded the land for a town site to Charles Crocker who was bringing the Northern Pacific Railway up the west side of the Valley. Traditionally, new towns created by railways have taken their names from the person(s) who gave the land. In July 1875, a US Post Office was approved for the town of Willow -- the "s" not officially added until 1916. Although there had been talk of changing the name of Willows to Zumwalt, the existing name won.
WILLOWS-GLENN COUNTY AIRPORT HISTORY
The Willows-Glenn Airport was initially a grassy field. The property for the present airport was obtained when the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District released various parcels to the City of Willows and to Glenn County for use in developing a community airport. The government agencies turned the project over to the Veterans of Foreign Wars who formed an airport committee in conjunction with the Achaean Club, a local service organization. The Northern California Air Show Association was formed in 1931 to generate money for the purchase of the airport property. Later, the U.S. Government, through the Civil Aeronautics Administration, became involved in the airport and built runways, a beacon and a large syphon under the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation Canal to properly drain the airport.
The City of Willows deeded its property on the airport to Glenn County on December 21, 1940. On April 25, 1942, the County leased the airport to the United States Government. Runway 13-31 was constructed during the winter 1941-42. Jimmy Doolittle began the final training of his B-25 crews for the bombing raid on Japan at this airport. The U.S. Forest Service also used the airport for a base of operations for aerial forest firefighting.
Today, Nancy’s Airport Café continues to serve the local residents of the Willows-Glenn County community as well as area farmers, aerial firefighters, pilots, and highway travelers by providing hearty and wholesome meals and desserts; take home a delicious world-famous pie today!