Carl Kowall has the notable distinction of being one of the first eight residents of El Dorado Hills, and one of the men who helped create what is today one of the Sacramento Region’s most thriving communities – one that almost never came to be.
“My wife and I were one of the first four families who volunteered to set up a mobile home park so we could establish residency and get approval to form a water district and bring water to the community,” the 87-year-old said. “It was pretty rustic; my other car really was a horse, but it gave us the start we needed to make the idea of El Dorado Hills come to life.”
In his new book, “The Story of El Dorado Hills,” Kowall guides readers through the vision of Allan Lindsey, Kowall’s boss, mentor and friend. It was Lindsey who first saw an opportunity to build a “modern community for a modern time” on 10,000 acres of rolling, grassy hills just east of Sacramento.
It was no simple process; even buying the land took a lot of legwork and a little subterfuge – and that was the easy part. Water rights had to be obtained, the first development plan was rejected, and when the first shovel hit the earth, the area’s geology presented such a huge obstacle that the developers created a new way to dig water and sewer lines. Then, when everything was finally up and running in 1967, the bottom fell out of the local real estate market, and the project’s financial partners pulled out.
After developing more than 2,000 homes, two schools, a park and a grocery market, everything in El Dorado Hills stopped, and the land was idle for almost a decade.
For Lindsey and Kowall, that was the end of the story, but that was certainly not the end of the story of El Dorado Hills. Lindsey’s vision was carried on by other developers who saw and shared that vision.
Today their work is recognized as some of the best master-planned development in the nation and El Dorado Hills is a city unto itself, with a population of 50,000 people living in 16,000 homes.
The story of El Dorado Hills is about much more than a real estate development; it’s the story of a man with an enormous imagination, matched only by his courage and kindness, and how sometimes the most important part of seeing a vision come to life is being willing to let go and let others carry it forward.
“Allan Lindsey had the vision for El Dorado Hills, the community of today is his legacy, and it’s a vision that can still help guide the future,” Kowall said. “The story of what he created there deserves its place in history, and I was honored to be a part of it.”
“The Story of El Dorado Hills” is available now online wherever books are sold.