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Bob Allen is the executive director of the Selma District Chamber of Commerce.

Mary and I have been doing some  cleaning and sorting at our house, always fun to see what we have saved during the 48 years we have lived in our home.  I decided it was time to sort through our cookbooks and other books we had in this one particular bookshelf, and what we found was interesting. I found three copies of a book “Early Days in Selma” by Langford Ryan (Tango) Johnston. 

So the next few weeks I have decided to share a story from his book But, before I share the story, let me tell you a little about the author.  Mr. Johnston was a long time member of the Selma Community and led a movement in 1947 to form the Selma Rodeo Association, with Lon Bennett, E.A. (Ted) Boyd, Jack Haley, Gene Arrants, Elmer Basye and Chester Shepard. 

The Rodeo was started on McCall Avenue just south of Selma, and a 6,000-seat stadium was built and found much success.  The rodeo was held there until 1949.  With the popularity of motorcycle racing and car racing the site was a perfect transition to the next venture. The first motorcycle race was held October 23, 1949.  Hard top racing soon followed and was popular; the Stadium became the Selma Speedway and operated until 1964.  By 1977, the grandstands were demolished and the land was leveled for vineyards.

Now for the first short story:

“The Railroad Came”

“The railroad from Fresno to Goshen was opened to traffic July 19, 1872.  The railroad put in a spur where Selma now stands and built a section house.  This section house is still standing in south Selma.  It was the first building in what is now the town of Selma.  After the railroad was built and the spur installed, a rancher could have machinery and supplies delivered to the spur in a box car, but even after the coming of the railroad the settlers still traveled to Stockton for supplies for many years.”

Thanks to Randy McFarland for sharing the history of Selma in his book “Centennial Selma” and to Langford Ryan Johnston for leaving us his early stories of Selma.

Bob Allen is the Executive Director of the Selma Chamber of Commerce.


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