Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

November 15, 2005 > Local museums in the Tri-City area

Local museums in the Tri-City area

by Laurey J. Hemenway

What do Charlie Chaplin, Bronco Billy, Jack London, eucalyptus trees, Pleistocene fossils, and a magnitude 7.0 earthquake have in common? They are all a part of the history of the East Bay. As the one-time agricultural center of California, the East Bay's history is as rich as the soil is fertile. Our cultural past is still very much apparent, all one needs to do is take a closer look. There are several local museums that spotlight the people, places, and events that have shaped the East Bay. The organizations and volunteers that operate and maintain these museums work hard to enrich the knowledge of the community and build an appreciation for natural and cultural history.

The Museum of Local History is located in the old Mission Fire Station House at 190 Anza Street in the Mission District of Fremont. It features exhibits on the history of Washington Township (Fremont, Union City, and Newark). Since 1992, this museum, with its extensive collection of artifacts from local farms, businesses, schools, homes, and a paleontological dig provide an intensive and colorful history of Fremont. The library and archives is a valuable resource for research. The Local History Museum is nonprofit and run exclusively by volunteers. It is open Wednesdays and Fridays, and every second weekend of the month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (510) 623-7907.

The Hayward Historical Society is another outstanding museum that highlights the history of Hayward, Castro Valley, and San Lorenzo. Located in Hayward's historic downtown on 'C' and Main streets, the old brick building houses an extensive collection of artifacts that dates back to the time of the Ohlone Indians. The comprehensive library and photo archive make this one of the best places for research on the Hayward area. Temporary exhibits bring to life figures and events from the past. Currently on exhibit: "Ansel Adams: Inspiration and Influence," through November 26. Visit the Hayward Historical Society Museum Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located at 22701 Main Street in Hayward, (510) 581-0223.

The Union City Historical Museum also houses a large collection of local artifacts and archives from the area's agricultural past. Exhibits include the history of the Alvarado Sugar Factory, the railroad in Union City, the Alvarado Fire House, and California State Historical Landmarks in Union City. It is open every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 3841 Smith St. in Union City, (510) 324-3298.

The C.E. Smith Museum of Anthropology is located on the campus of Cal State Hayward East Bay on the 4th floor of Meikljohn Hall 25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard, Hayward. This small, but impressive museum was founded in 1972 in honor of one of the original members of the CSUEB Department of Anthropology, Clarence E. Smith. The museum holds a significant collection of archaeological and enthographic specimens from Africa, Asia, and North America, and smaller collections from Central and South America. Often used for student research, the museum welcomes visitors from on and off campus. New exhibits are put on each year by students. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is currently between exhibits. Call (510) 885-3104 for more information.

The Niles Depot Model Railroads and Museum, is located in the historic district of Niles in the former Southern Pacific Railroad depot on Mission Boulevard. Owned by the city of Fremont and operated by the Niles Depot Historical Foundation, the main attractions are the HO and N scale model railroad displays. The museum's focus is on the early railroads of the Tri-City area with an emphasis on Niles and includes photographs, track equipment, signals, locomotive artifacts, uniforms and other items. The museum also has a library with over 1,000 railroad books and videotapes available for public viewing. Open on the first and third Sunday of each month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this is a must for railroad enthusiasts. Located at 36997 Mission Blvd. in Fremont.

The Niles Film Museum was established in the old Essanay film studio on Niles Boulevard. Long before Hollywood became the movie capital, there was Niles. The museum features artifacts from the early silent film industry in Niles that lasted from 1913 to 1916, and spotlights Bronco Billy and Charlie Chaplin, two major movies stars from the silent film era. The museum presents Saturday Night at the Movies, every Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Edison Theater located at 37395 Niles Boulevard in Fremont, (510) 494-1411. The Film Museum is open on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

Tule Ponds at Tyson Lagoon Wetland Center is located on 17-acres of former wetlands next to the Fremont Bart Station. The center is run by the Math and Science Nucleus, a nonprofit educational and research organization composed of scientists, educators, and community members. With its collection of fossils, rocks, minerals, and other nature specimens the Wetland Center, which was established in 1998, helps to connect the links between the watersheds, fault zones, riparian corridors, and wetlands of the central East Bay, all of which have had an influence the area's cultural history. Primarily open for field trips, the Wetlands Center does host a couple open house events each year when the public is invited to view the exhibits and tule ponds. The next open house is April 1, 2006. Call (510) 790-6284 for more information.

Wes Gordon Fossil Hall and the Nature Hall is also run by the Math/Science Nucleus and features Irvingtonian Fossils, the Boy Paleontologist Room and Environments through Time Exhibits. The Nature Hall includes 100 year old specimens from the original DeYoung museum in San Francisco. It is located at 4074 Eggers Dr., Fremont, call (510) 790-6284 for more information.

Coyote Hills Visitor Center has exhibits portraying the Ohlone Indian way of life, and a tule reed boat constructed by park staff and volunteers using Native American methods. Other exhibits cover the park's natural history and wildlife. Tours of the main shellmound site allow visitors to see a reconstructed tule house, shade shelter, dance circle, and a sweat lodge. The visitor center is open Tuesdays through Sundays 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 8000 Patterson Ranch Road in Fremont, (510) 562-PARK.

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