Skip to content

Past Virtual Programs

2022 Virtual Programs

Imagining History’s Lost Voices: Women of the Gold Rush - May 19, 2022

When gold was discovered in California, dreams of adventure and instant wealth made westward movement the all-consuming passion of the nation. "Go West Young Man" became the catch phrase of the era, but joining these young men were a hardy collection of women. Prostitutes and preacher’s wives, escaped slaves and society women, reformers, teachers, saloon keepers, cross dressers, criminals…the women of the Gold Rush helped shape the region and the nation. Yet their stories have been largely forgotten. Who was Mary Ellen Pleasant, Georgiana Kirby, Mary Hallock Foote, Madam Mustache?

During this engaging one-hour lecture Mary Volmer explored how the interplay of fiction and history allows for the compassionate reimagining of history’s lost voices. Ms. Volmer is a published author, college professor and the Director of the Alta Mesa Center for the Arts. Her most recent books are Crown of Dust and Reliance, Illinois.

MaryVolmer

The Story of James Dougherty - April 21, 2022

Beverly Lane, Museum Curator and Board Member, presented The Story of James Dougherty.

The Dougherty name adorns a valley, a major road, hills, shopping areas, and schools, both an elementary as well as a high school. Obviously, there must be a reason this name has become such a prominent part of our valley.

The Dougherty family has been in the United States since the 1700's immigrating from Ireland.  James Witt Dougherty traveled from the deep south to make his fame and fortune in what was to become the Dougherty Valley. Learn about his many and varied exploits. Have you ever heard of the town of Dougherty?

es-dougherty-a

A Celebration of St. Patrick's Day and the Irish - March 17, 2022

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, the Museum of the San Ramon Valley presented a virtual program on the Irish.

Elizabeth Creely, from the Irish Consulate, discussed Irish immigration to San Francisco during the gold rush.

Steve Minnear, the historian for the City of Dublin, CA, spoke about some specific Irish immigrants:  Michael Murray, Jeremiah Fallon and Eleanor Fallon.  You are probably aware of Fallon Road or Fallon Middle School. Learn about the interesting impact these immigrants had on our community.

St Patricks Day

The Amazing Travels of John Muir  - February 17, 2022

We all associate John Muir with Yosemite and rightly so.  But do you ever consider that he was a world traveler and had a large impact on the world far beyond California?

Garrett Dailey, an attorney and noted authority on John Muir, returned with a fascinating program on the Muir's worlds travels and the impact he had. Ever heard of the Muir Glacier? Yes, the same Muir but his impact was to extend far beyond North America.

JohnMuir 2

The Movie Industry in Fremont CA  - January 20,2022 

Join Rena Kiehn and David Kiehn from the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum discussed the time when major movies were produced right in our backyard. In addition, they told about the interesting and unique museum that is located in Niles celebrating silent movies and the stars who made them.

Rena and David shared about the time from 1913 to 1920 when this area was a hot spot for producers of silent films.  Essanay Studios built a western production studio in Niles to take advantage of the areas beauty and good weather.  The studio brought in multitudes of actors, directors and stage crews to staff their westerns, romances and comedies.  Charlie Chaplin's famous movie The Tramp was filmed there in 1915.

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

2021 Virtual Programs

The History of the Caldecott Tunnel - December 16, 2021

Mary McCosker and Mary Solon, historians and authors of the book Building the Caldecott Tunnel, shared with us the history and story of this most interesting tunnel.

They told about this very important tunnel that opened in 1937 and how it started to change our area of small rural communities into one of growing suburbs. Today it is still very much a critical part of our transportation infrastructure.

Caldecott Tunnel Presentation Slide

The History of Alamo - November 18, 2021

This month's presenters were the authors of the book Historic Tales of Alamo, local historians Beverly Lane and Sharon Burke. Beginning with the area’s geology and native peoples, Historic Tales of Alamo tells the story of the history of this vibrant community in the north part of the San Ramon Valley.

During the presentation, they talked about the early settlers, the origin of Alamo’s name, the early ranchos, and title controversies. In addition, the program covered the twentieth century challenges the community has faced. Beverly and Sharon presented rarely seen photographs of Alamo too.

Historic Tales of Alamo

The History of Mt. Diablo - October 21, 2021

Mount Diablo State Park is celebrating 100 years since being established in 1921.

Our speaker was Stephen Smith a Danville native and hiking enthusiast and leader who acts as a natural history docent and volunteer team leader for trail signage and maintenance projects in the park. He is also the president of MDIA and oversees its many programs and committees that solely benefit Mount Diablo State Park.

Stephen explored the human history of the mountain. From its humble beginnings to the present day including the historic Civilian Conservation Corps who built most of its infrastructure. Discussions included the history of early Native Americans, cattle ranching, horse racing, automobile racing and tourism on the mountain. Learn how the park has grown in size thanks to visionaries like Mary Bowerman and Raymond Force.  See how different organizations protect the mountain like Mount Diablo Interpretive Association (MDIA) and Save Mount Diablo (SMD).

IMG_1723

The Story of the Old Mint in San Francisco
July 15, 2021

*Due to technical difficulties, the virtual program was not recorded. We apologize if you planned to watch the recording of this virtual program. 

Katherine Petrin, an Architectural Historian and Preservation Planner in private practice in San Francisco, California, her hometown as our speaker. Katherine currently serves as the Project Manager for the planning phase of the U.S. Old Mint Restoration Project in collaboration with the California Historical Society and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

To say that the Old Mint is an interesting and historic building would be an understatement.  Consider the following:

  • The Mint was the built in 1874. It was the first Federal building in San Francisco.  The construction of the mint was a large step to make Californians feel part of the nation. It was a source of great pride to the young state.
  • The mint exceeded all expectation as can be seen in 1837 when the US produced $83M in gold and silver coins. $50M of which came out of the SF mint.
  • In 1906, it was the only financial institution to survive the earthquake. It opened (under armed guard) 3 days later. This saved the city from economic chaos.
  • In the 1930's, 30% of the United States gold reserves were held in the mints ground floor safe.

Katherine discussed the future of this historic irreplaceable building.

Old Mint 1878__view_sfpl

Moving the Depot - June 17, 2021

25 years ago this month the Lopez Brothers home movers arrived in Danville to move the depot which is now the Museum of the San Ramon Valley. Its new home would be the corner of Railroad and Prospect. The museum which was originally a Southern Pacific Depot was located a block further south at the corner where Lunardi's is located today.

Ed Best, a longtime museum volunteer, former president of the museum, and a key member of the team that was involved in the move and restoration gave a first hand eye witness presentation of that eventful day.  It is fair to say that moving an old building in disrepair is not for the faint of heart. See pictures and a short video of the actual move as well as hear about some of the surprises the move encountered.

19980430002

Soldiers Memorial Monument 
May 20, 2021 

In celebration of Memorial Day, John Mercurio from the Contra Costa Historical Society presented a program titled "Sheriff Veale and the Pursuit of a Worthy Memorial" about the Soldiers Memorial Monument.

Driving through Pleasant Hill it is hard to miss the Soldiers Memorial, standing 45 feet in height and weighing 45 tons. Oh yes it is also almost in the middle of Monument Boulevard. Its story begins with Contra Costa County Sheriff Richard Veal who was thankful that his son had returned safely from the Great War, WW1. Many other Contra Costa County residents were not so lucky. So, using his prominent position in the county he set out to raise funds to erect a memorial to those that died. The result of his efforts is the Soldier’s Monument in Pleasant Hill.

Soldiers_Memorial_Pleasant_Hill_California_at_Boyd_Road_v3

John Muir: California's Most Famous Resident
April 15, 2021

Garrett Dailey, an attorney and noted authority on John Muir, presented John Muir: California's Most Famous Resident. Mr. Dailey is a resident of Alamo and a part-time resident of Scotland. Mr. Dailey developed and taught a course on John Muir at the University of Edinburgh OLL as well as lectured and spoke with various groups and organizations. In this one-hour presentation, you will learn about why John Muir was officially voted California's  most famous resident. You will follow John Muir's life from Scotland to migrating as a child to America. His education and quest to save nature and the beauty it holds. Beyond being voted California's most famous resident, you may likely come away thinking of Muir as one of the world's most interesting men.

JohnMuir 2
Camp Parks: When War and National Security Came to the San Ramon and Amador Valley
March 18, 2021 

Steve Minniear, historian for the town of Dublin CA and past president of the Dublin Historical Society, presented Camp Parks: When War and National Security Came to the San Ramon and Amador Valleys.

Today the area around Camp Parks is a growing residential community bordering a BART station. It is hard to imagine that at one time its boundaries spanned from San Ramon to Dublin and played a major role in both our local history and national history. Since 1942, hundreds of thousands of US armed forces personnel lived and trained at this base. It is fair to say Camp Parks played a key role in WW2 involving the pacific theater.

Huge New Camp Builds Warrior Builders 1943
The History and Future of the Sunol Water Temple  February 18, 2021

Carla Schultheis, the Watershed and Environmental Improvement Program Manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, spoke on the history and future of the Sunol Water Temple.

There are only three water temples in the United States. One of them is located in Sunol CA. It was commissioned by William Bowers Bourn, the fabulously rich owner of the Empire Gold mine and the Spring Valley Water Co. The Spring Valley Water Co. had a monopoly on supplying water to San Francisco.

Hear about the critical and interesting role the Water Temple has played in the development of the Bay Area. In addition, learn about the exciting new role it will be playing during the 21 Century.

Sunol Water Temple3
The Secret History of San Ramon - January 21, 2021

Bill Clarkson, the former mayor of San Ramon and noted local historian presented an informative and entertaining virtual presentation on the Secret History of San Ramon.

He spoke about the only graveyard in San Ramon. Would you believe it dates back to 1858? Are you aware of a visible fault line in San Ramon or where the boundary oak is located? These and many more interesting facts and stories were covered in Mayor Clarkson's virtual presentation.

A Village street scene (1)

2020 Virtual Programs

Niles Canyon Railway - December 17, 2020

Henry Baum, President of Niles Canyon Railway, covered a variety of topics about the railroad and the role it has played in the development of our community.

Henry shared the amazing railroad history of our valley. He also talked about the lost town of Radum and how the Iron Horse Trail was involved with the Transcontinental Railroad to name just a few of the interesting topics covered.

Nile Canyon Railway
Adolph Sutro Program - November 19, 2020

Diana Kohnke of the Sutro Library gave a presentation on Adolph Sutro and the Library he left to the city of San Francisco. Her presentation discussed how this German immigrant made a fortune in the Comstock Lode. He became one of the largest landowners in San Francisco was elected mayor of San Francisco, planted his own forest, and, started a library to name a few of his accomplishments. To say this man led a full and interesting life would be an understatement.

Adolph Sutro
Alamo Cemetery Tour & Program - October 22, 2020

Jana Haertl, museum volunteer, took participants on a virtual tour of the Alamo Cemetery. 

Established in the 1850's the cemetery is the final resting place to the many early families who established and built this valley. Jana shared stories of the history of the Alamo Cemetery and families such as Humburg, Baldwin, Stone, Wood and Bollinger to mention just a few.

This little jewel is tucked away at the bend of El Portal just off Danville Blvd on the border of Alamo and Danville. You may have passed it on your way to Hap Magee Park without giving it a second thought. It’s actually a peaceful resting place to stroll through and admire the headstones of many pioneer families in a park-like atmosphere. 

Humburg Gravesite at Alamo Cemetery
California's First People: Then and Now - September 24, 2020
Who lived in the San Ramon Valley beginning around 5000 years ago. How did they get there? What was their life like? What did they eat? How were they housed?
Museum docent Renee Spitz discussed these interesting topics and much more. Also, modern day descendants are shown reinterpreting and invigorating their ancient traditions today.
A special thanks to California Indian Heritage Center Foundation for the use of their beautiful picture.
First contact by Alicia Maria Siu, Antonio Moreno, Vicente Moreno, Vicente Teoxiutleko Moreno
First contact by Alicia Maria Siu, Antonio Moreno, Vicente Moreno, Vicente Teoxiutleko Moreno

Correction - The Seunen tribe lived in present day San Ramon. The Saclan tribe lived in the Lafayette area.

Women Win the Vote in California & the Country  - August 20, 2020

Beverly Lane, Museum Curator and Board Vice President, presented a program that featured a video of the current Women Win the Vote exhibit at the Museum filmed by Tory Taylor and a PowerPoint presentation on the history of woman suffrage 

By Henry Mayer
Highway 21 to Interstate 680  - June 18, 2020

Steve Minniear, local historian and author presented photos and maps about the road in the museum's first virtual event.

Whether it is called San Ramon Valley Road, Danville Blvd., North Main Street or even Contra Costa Blvd., it was for a long time Highway 21.  And between the 1930s and the 1960s, it was the only way to go north and south through the San Ramon and Amador Valleys.  Steve talks about the “only road through town” and how it shaped farm life, regional business and eventually the suburbs.

Hihway 21 (2)