If you Google the name Oakley looking for a city you will find multiple references in many different states. Further examination shows that only 6 of these locations actually have a population. The rest are merely wide spots in the road.
To start the discussion of where Oakley is lets get one item cleared up. Oakley, Inc, the eyewear and apparel company, is not located in or around any of the cities named Oakley. Oakley, Inc is currently headquartered in Lake Forest, Ca. Founder James Jannard reportedly named the company after his dog, an English Setter.
Oakley, Idaho – With the recently completed 2010 Census it has a population of 763 people. The city was named for William Oakley, the proprietor of a 19th century Pony Express station located at a spring currently located about 2 miles west of the present town site known as Oakley Meadows. Oakley is located at 4,560 feet in elevation. It is at the very southern limit of the Snake River Plain and close to Goose Creek and the Albion Mountains. The nearest larger city is Burley, Idaho.
Oakley, Kansas – With the recently completed 2010 Census it has a population of 2,045 people. Oakley, the county seat of Logan County, began as a way-station on the Union Pacific Railroad line built between Denver and Kansas City in the 1860’s. The Oakley town site was laid out by David Hoagin 1884 and named after his mother, Elizabeth Oakley Gardner-Hoag. Oakley is about 70 miles from the Colorado/Kansas border.
Oakley, Michigan is a village. With the recently completed 2010 Census it has a population of 290 people. This town was started by Phillip Mickle who built a tavern here in 1842 and was considered the town’s first proprietor. It was referred to as Mickleville until 1868 when it organized as a village and was re-named after a Judge Oakley from Dutchess County, New York, who happened to be an uncle of one of the village’s businessmen. Oakley is located near the southern border of Saginaw County on M-52.
Oakley, Utah – With the recently completed 2010 Census it has a population of 1,470 people. Located just 45 miles east of Salt Lake City on SR-32 in the Kamas Valley, Oakley (elev. 6500′) is a gateway to the UintaMountains. Oakley’s original name of Oak Creek was derived from a creek which ran just east of the present town site and which was thickly overgrown with oak trees. It was changed to its present name in late 1886 or early 1887, having been chosen from many names submitted by the settlers in a contest.
Oakley, Wyoming – At the time of the 2000 Census, it had a population of 18 people. The City is located in the southwestern part of Wyoming near the city of Kemmerer in Lincoln County. It is surrounded by high desert and the Rocky Mountains.
Oakley, California the largest Oakley in the U.S. and my reason for the blog. Oakley estimated population (2016) is 40,622 according to the most recent United States census. The City of Oakley is located in the eastern region of Contra Costa County and is within the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Oakley’s west border is situated at the intersection of Highway 4 and Highway 160, which provide access to San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and the Central Valley. To the east is the city of Brentwood and the Central Valley. Oakley is a Delta community with the San Joaquin River to the north. The southwestern skyline is dominated by Mt. Diablo. This isolated 3,849 feet peak is visible from most of the San Francisco Bay Area and much of northern California.
The name Oakley is a combination of the words Oak and Ley. Ley is of Old English origin and its meaning is “meadow”. This aptly describes the area when first settled, oak trees and meadows, and to some extent even today. However, if not for the flip of a card and cribbage board the community may have been named Dewey. Instead of the Oak Leaf logo it may have been a dew drop. City founder Randolph Marsh wanted to name the city Dewey, after Admiral Dewey. Mr. Marsh was impressed with the exploits of Admiral Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. His friend J.T. Whitman preferred the name “Oakley” because the terrain was largely meadows and oaks. To determine which name would prevail they battled it out over a game of cribbage. Marsh may have lost the game and the right to name the city but he ensured his immortality by choosing downtown street names whose first initials spelled “Marsh” — Main, Acme, Ruby, Star and Home.
Wake boarding on the Delta