S. S. Bradford was probably the most prosperous and influential citizen of Sonora during his time. He came to Tuolumne County from his native state of Maine where he had been engaged in the lumber business.
Mr. Bradford’s experience and background as a logger and sawmill operator, plus some capital, enabled him to establish a lumber sawmill at a site called Empire, which was located twenty-eight miles east of Sonora. Prior to the construction of a logging railroad to the area, the lumber produced was hauled by wagons drawn by long line animal teams. Hales & Symons wagons hauled a good portion of this lumber. The Empire mill lumber was hauled to a storage yard which was located on the present site of the Steinmetz home at 116 West Bradford Avenue. This lumber was processed in a planing mill which was located across the street from the lumber yard in a large wooden structure.
Mr. Bradford’s influence was responsible for the present name of Bradford Avenue. When Sonora was originally founded, this thoroughfare was known as Hospital Street and it is shown as such on the early maps of the city. It was so named because, in 1849, a primitive hospital was opened near the site of the present county courthouse. The hill upon which it was located became known as the Hospital Hill. However, in 1904, this name was changed to Bradford Avenue in honor and in tribute to Mr. Bradford.