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History of San Ramon, CA

San Ramon is a city that’s part of Contra Costa County and located about 34 miles east of San Francisco. Nestled within the picturesque San Ramon Valley, the city encompasses a total area of over 18 square miles, and is home to more than 75,000 residents.

San Ramon is home to the headquarters of many prominent companies, including Chevron, AT&T (West Coast headquarters), 24 Hour Fitness, General Electric’s Global Software Center, and more. The city is also known for hosting major events such as the Art and Wind Festival during Memorial Day weekend and the Run for Education every October.

San Ramon is a vibrant, growing city that’s considered one of the most outstanding urban villages in all of California. It boasts plenty of scenic parks, a wide variety of housing options, and a major employment center, all within a breathtaking natural setting.

Early days of San Ramon

The land of present-day San Ramon was once home to the Seunen Native Americans, Ohlone or Costanoans who resided adjacent to the valley creeks. Towards the end of the 1700s, the land became grazing land for Mission San Jose, which later on included the 16,000-plus-acre Rancho San Ramon, owned by Jose Maria Amador.

San Ramon Creek was named in honor of a Native American “vaquero,” or cattle driver named Ramon, who was in charge of tending mission sheep in the area. In a land title case in 1855, Don Amador stated that the “San” in the creek’s name was added in order to accommodate Spanish customs.

Settlement of San Ramon

The first American settlers arrived in San Ramon in 1850, after Leo and Mary Jane Norris bought 4,450 acres of land from Don Amador. Other notable early landowners in San Ramon were James Dougherty, William Lynch, and Major Samuel Russell. In 1852, Joel and Minerva Harlan purchased land from Leo and Mary Jane Norris and constructed a house on what later on became the Alameda-Contra Costa County line.

Most of the city’s founding families are still remembered today, as their names were used to grace hills, canyons, and streets in the area. Some of the city’s pioneers were Bollinger, Crow, Glass, Harlan, Lynch, McCamley, Meese, Norris, and Wiedemann. You can still find the 1858 Harlan home (19251 San Ramon Valley Blvd.) and the 1865 Wiedemann home close to Norris Canyon in their original locations. The original 1877 Glass house was moved to a new location, Forest Home Farms.

Development of a village

Different names were used for San Ramon in the 19th century. It was originally called Brevensville (after blacksmith Eli Breven), Lynchville (after William Lynch), and Limerick (after the many Irish settlers). The first village in the area was developed at the intersection of present-day San Ramon Valley Blvd. and Deerwood Road. A permanent post office was established in the area in 1873, and was named San Ramon.

In the 1860s, the village transformed into a center of community activity. A stage line established by Brown and Co. in 1864 ran from San Ramon all the way through the valley towards Oakland. More new buildings followed, including a church, a general store, saloons, blacksmith shops, a jail, Chinese wash houses, and the San Ramon Grammar School.

Arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad

Other changes took place following the arrival of the San Ramon Branch Line in 1891. The community was officially named San Ramon, replacing Limerick. The new railroad line now allowed passengers and crops to get to and from the area, no matter what type of weather. San Ramon boasted a two-story depot, a turnaround for the locomotive, and an engine house, and was the terminus for the line until 1909.

Modern San Ramon

Like most communities in the Tri-Valley, San Ramon’s economy centered on agriculture until the arrival of suburban development. Developers Bob McClain and Ken Volk established the first suburban homes in the area, located close to the county line. Services including water, parks, garbage collection, sewer, and fire protection were provided by a special district known as the Valley Community Services District.

In 1970, Western Electric bought more than 1,700 acres of Bishop Ranch, proposing a “new” town which featured multiple housing options, shops, green belts, and light industry, all in the heart of the city. A portion of the land was eventually used for new homes, and became today’s Bishop Ranch Business Park.

Looking to homes for sale in San Ramon, CA? Call Steve Swepston today at 925.248.1111 or send an email to steveswepston(at)gmail(dotted)com to find exceptional homes for sale in the area!


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