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The town of Atwater was rich in a different kind of treasure than the gold usually sought by people flocking to California in the 1850s. Named for Marshall D. Atwater, a tenant on several of founder John W. Mitchell's 2,000-acre parcels, the community boasted a mineral-rich alluvial soil that made it an extremely productive agricultural area. When the Central Pacific Railroad came through—thanks to lobbying from Mitchell, along with several strips of free land deeded to the railroad—a switch was laid next to Atwater's warehouse. The train switch and the building became known as Atwater Station, and in time, the town itself bore his name.