Dixon sits amid the Dixon Ridge, an area with some of Solano County’s most fertile soil, where farmers grow everything from tomatoes to alfalfa.
Farming plays a key role in Dixon’s history. It also plays a key role in the city today.
Some of the city events have a farming theme. Dixon is home to the annual May Fair, which began in the late 1800s and is the longest continually running agriculture fair in California. It is home to the Lambtown Festival, which features food, crafts and such activities as sheep shearing. Fall brings such attractions as the Cool Pumpkin Patch corn maze.
Solano County last year created zoning to allow for a 548-acre agricultural service area next to Dixon. This area is to be home to processing plants and other businesses that help the farming economy.
County Supervisor John Vasquez said the move will allow Solano County to keep more of the value created by agriculture in the local economy. That could be as simple as having a plant to package local farm products.
“Look at all the seed we grow in Yolo and Solano,” he said. “It may be going somewhere else to be put in a bag.”
Dixon at times has expanded on its agricultural identity. Certainly it has become more suburban in recent decades, with subdivisions swelling its population. In recent years, it has flirted with the idea of trying to land a movie studio that would be built on the south side of town and produce family films.
But agriculture still looms large. Just look at the city seal, which portrays an orchard and rows of crops in the foreground and buildings in the distance.
The city’s name comes about in a sense from a case of mistaken identity.
Elija Silvey in about 1851 founded the town of Silveyville, which was located a few miles from present-day Dixon. He set up a hotel and saloon for mule teams traveling between San Francisco and the gold fields in the Sierra Nevada and put up a red lantern to make certain people could find it.
By 1865, Silveyville had about 150 residents and boasted a store, blacksmith shop and a post office, with Silvey serving as postmaster. But the Central Pacific railroad came through in 1868 several miles away and Silveyville died. A new town sprung up along the railroad tracks, with people moving many of the Silveyville buildings there on rollers.
Thomas Dickson donated 10 acres of land for a train station called Dickson station, according to Frank Keegan’s 1989 book “Solano: The Crossroads County.” But somebody shipping the first consignment of goods there misspelled the name as “Dixon.” The mistake stuck.
The city is a true Central Valley town amid a county that is considered part of the Bay Area, with more in common geographically with Sacramento than San Francisco. It has the flat expanses of land and hot summer temperatures of the valley.
And, of course, it has the vast expanses of farmland at its borders.
Contact: Dixon Chamber of Commerce, 707-678-2650, www.dixonchamber.org