I should log the times I travel up and down San Ramon Valley Boulevard it is so often, sometimes several times in one day. Not that long ago, I noticed a little sign just north of the 680 southbound Alcosta exit.
The sign has a pretty logo on top for a company or organization called Preserve America and the sign reads, “Welcome to San Ramon, a Preserve America Community.”
I was amazed! Where had the sign come from and what did it mean? I’d never noticed the sign before and what the heck is a Preserve America community? So I went home and did what I always tell my kids to do when they have a pressing question, like where does electricity come from or what does the inside of a car engine look like?
After some Googling of my question, I found a ton of information on this little sign. I discovered there is an entire website on Preserve America and a wealth of information on how the program works, how to become a designated city, and what that means for those designated communities.
Preserve America is a federal program that encourages communities to preserve their cultural and natural heritage. The program began in 2003 and involves the First Lady of the United States in the promotion and support of the program.
The program recognizes those communities that protect and celebrate their local heritage and use their historic assets to encourage their citizens to experience, support, and appreciate local history and heritage. There are only 760 communities in the United States with this honored title, making San Ramon eligible for federal grants to help support community efforts to preserve historic and local landmarks for the enjoyment and education of the community.
San Ramon is home to Forest Home Farms, which added not only a new house (the Glass House), but has been adding other structures and farm equipment and antiques of the era (late 1800's, early 1900's) to it's collection every year.
My children all toured the Farm in the 3rd or 4th grade and learned so much about the area . . . you know we weren't always a sprawl of houses, once walnut groves covered the valley. The farm has been designated a historic site and I'm sure benefits from the Preserve America award.
As prestigious as this award is, I could only find one mention of the award and that was in the meeting minutes from the city of San Ramon’s Council’s June, 2008 meeting minutes. According to the minutes, this award was granted to San Ramon in 2008 and credit was given to the San Ramon Historic Foundation for their assistance in obtaining the designation. It seemed strange that not one news agency picked up the story and it was not mentioned in the newspapers archives I searched. Nor could I find mention of it on our city website, although maybe I just didn’t search in the right place.
I was quite the snoopy bug, as I wove my way through the great wide web. I found a publication called “Passport to Historic Sites in the Valley,” created by the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, on Railroad Avenue, in Danville. The publication mentions many historic places to explore our valley. The Danville Museum, a great resource, changes the focus of their exhibits almost monthly with an eye on historic events, findings, and cultural importance of the entire San Ramon Valley.
According to the publication, a series of interpretive panels, located at the staging area for the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, documents the geographic history of the valley.
The passport publication also lists Hap Magee Ranch, the local Tassajara School House, and Forest Home Farms, right here in San Ramon, as further locations for exploring the history of our valley. For a copy of the passport go to www.sanramon.ca.gov/srhistory/images/passport.pdf.
I hope you notice the little sign that means so much the next time you find yourself zooming north on San Ramon Valley Boulevard. And be proud . . . we’ve preserved a lot of our culture and we have recognition from a federal program to prove it. I think I’ll go on a hike now, I have some more exploring to do.