Berenda

Berenda, which was first known as Berendo (derived from 'verrendo,' the Spanish word for a male antelope), was established around 1872. A store may have been opened as early as 1870 by a man named John Brown, but a store was definitely built in June 1872 by Leroy Dennis, who was a former sheriff from Fresno. Within a short time, the Southern Pacific passed through and Berenda grew. A depot as well as three section houses were built on the west side of the railroad tracks, and the farming community grew. A post office opened on February 12, 1873.

Berenda also grew as a popular stop for tourists - a stage line connected the railroad depot to Yosemite. In 1885, construction began on a new railroad connection to Yosemite. In 1886, the new line was opened between Berenda and the new terminus of Raymond, some 20 miles away.

Around 1890, Berenda reached its peak. That year, the handsome new Vignolo Hotel opened. New grainhouses were built, and Berenda boasted a general store, grocery store, saloon, blacksmith shop, and butcher shop and slaughter house. Miller & Lux donated a new schoolhouse, Berenda's first, in 1893. The town even had its own baseball team - the Coyotes, whose name lives on as the Madera High School mascot.

After the turn of the century, Berenda faded as Madera grew. The post office closed in 1935. None of the buildings of Berenda's heyday remain, save for a schoolhouse which was built in 1903. The freight and passenger depots were dismantled before August 1940, and later that decade the school was moved to widen Highway 99.

I Visited Berenda
9.9.2018

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