Arriving in Manteca from Southern California in 1905 and settling on 160 acres of land near present-day Airport Way and Woodward Avenue, Walter J. Woodward later (1907) became Manteca’s first real estate agent.
Born in Vermont in 1858, he grew up and married in Colorado, bringing his wife and four children to California in 1893. He was perhaps the only resident of Manteca who had any practical knowledge of how an irrigation district should he operated, having grown up in an irrigation district while in Colorado. He used that knowledge to help develop the South San Joaquin Irrigation District in 1909 and served on its first board of directors.
Mr. Woodward was instrumental in laying out the irrigation system which brought water to over 71,000 acres. In 1917, the SSJID board named a storage reservoir near Oakdale "Woodward Reservoir" in appreciation of his services for the irrigation district.
Continuing with his real estate business, Mr. Woodward finally retired in early September, 1939. Just two weeks later, he died at his home on Jessie Street.
Walter Woodward’s expertise in planning irrigation systems and his tireless promotion of the Manteca area were key factors in turning the sandy soil and tiny railroad station into the prime agricultural land and bustling city we see today.