California is full of history and interesting facts, and San Ramon is no exception. Even if you’ve lived in the Bay area for years, there are always things to learn right in your own backyard. We’ve got a few suggestions of places to explore and learn just a little bit more about San Ramon, we’ve even thrown some trivia in the mix!
A Muse for Playwrights
Famed playwright, Eugene O’Neill lived in San Ramon for a short period of time, and it was here that he wrote his best known work, The Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize, and is considered one of the best plays written in the 20th century. There’s even an Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site located here, just outside of Danville, where you can tour his home and learn about his prolific works. O’Neill was drawn to the privacy of the valley and the seclusion that he couldn’t find in bigger cities. Perhaps the gorgeous landscape was the inspiration O’Neill needed to clear his head and create his masterpiece!
A Home to Football Stars (and other sports too!)
Did you know there are five current and former professional NFL football players who have lived in, or are from San Ramon? That’s a pretty high turnout for a city this size! Marv Hubbard played for both the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions, and lived his later years in San Ramon. Tony Stewart of the Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders has lived in San Ramon, and Austin Hooper currently of the Atlanta Falcons, James Jones, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, and Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders have all lived, are from, or currently live in the San Ramon region.
Also from San Ramon? Professional soccer players David Bingham, Andrew Wiedeman, and Olympic gold medal soccer player Tiffany Roberts, as well as NHL hockey player Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Talk about goals!
A Town Rich in History
Before it was settled during colonization, and then later during the Gold Rush, the San Ramon area was home to the Ohlone Native Americans for centuries due to its rich abundance of all sorts of food sources and fresh water, and also because of its geography; Mount Diablo was a sacred space for the Native Americans of the valley, but it was Spanish colonizers who gave the mount its current name. Did you know Mount Diablo can actually be seen from nearly every point in San Ramon?
San Ramon later became grazing lands for the Mission San José during Spanish colonization in the late 1700s due to the level, farmable land, creeks, and the abundance of trees. The area was given the name of San Ramon in honor of Saint Raymond of Penyafort.
After the Gold Rush, the town of San Ramon as we know it today began to develop, led by several influential families. Until very recently, this spot was marked by a row of very old eucalyptus trees. Forest Homes Farms is a volunteer organization and historic museum run by the city dedicated to preserving the history and homes of these first founding families, allowing visitors to experience life in San Ramon as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a 16-acre farm that has preserved homesteads built by both the Boone and Glass families, who were influential in the development of San Ramon. You can check out the farms and even tour the homes on a weekly basis!
(Cool fact: The farm was given to the city by Ruth Quayle Boone to honor and commemorate her husband’s efforts to develop the city, but after her death, the city expanded the memorial to recognize the contributions she and many other women made for the agriculture of San Ramon. Go Ruth!)
This year, 2017, is actually the sesquicentennial celebration of the founding of San Ramon (that’s 150 years!), marked by the founding of a school for the local children. At the time, the school was thought to be “among the neatest and best arranged schoolhouses in the county,” boasting two rooms divided by a partition, a bell tower, and 13-foot ceilings (how impressive!).
The Bartlett Pear
At one point, San Ramon was home to the world’s largest Bartlett pear orchard. Originally owned by Thomas Bishop, the Bishop Brothers Ranch grew to 2000 acres after his death, becoming, for a time, the largest Bartlett pear orchard. What is really cool about this is that what’s left of the orchard (about 9 acres) is harvested during an annual festival and donated to charity. The Moraga Pear Harvest, held in early August each year invites volunteers to come venture the grounds and pick pears to donate to local charities. Each year, the park donates over 10,000 pounds of pears to the less fortunate through the Food Bank at Contra Costa and Solano. That’s a cause we can stand behind! (PS: They also have a summer concert series on the park grounds you won’t want to miss!).
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