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March 7, 2006 > Fremont Historic Tours

Fremont Historic Tours

by John Fisher

Part of Fremont's semi-centennial celebration is the Heritage Tours. Once a month, to commemorate Fremont's 50th year, you may ride a vintage bus thru one or more of its historic districts.

For those new to Fremont, Fremont has five historic districts: Niles, Mission San Jose, Warm Springs, Irvington and Centerville. While each community had its own history, unique origin and flavor, they were intertwined through family and commerce.

On one Saturday a month (morning or afternoon), you can ride the tour bus by being at the Niles Flag pole at "I" street and Niles Blvd. I caught the tour on February 25. The bus was a 1958 GM "Peerless" model, one of ten purchased by Sacramento for passenger service. It was sold to UC Davis and used until retired; then restored in 1997 by the Pacific Bus Museum. Fremont is one of two locations in California that has a "rolling bus museum." You can learn more about the bus museum at

Those who restored the bus left a small patch of scratched graffiti dating to 1973 that adds charm to its interior.

The morning tour I rode went to Mission San Jose and Warm Springs. Of the thousands of times I have driven down Mission Blvd., passing the same homes, day after day, I knew little of their history, former occupants, and so forth. That is the benefit of the Heritage Tours. You can sit, look and listen....and ask questions.

I've been on some tours that played a tape. Not this tour. The dialogue presented by the docent was low key, definitely not scripted. You could tell she enjoyed speaking about the area that has been her home for many, many years.

The more I learn about Fremont's history the more appealing its variety becomes. For example: The tour covers more than just historic homes and estates. There are wineries, missions, schools, cemeteries (Ohlone and Catholic), hotels, resorts, adobes, creeks and trees. Trees? At least one tree is a Fremont landmark and is known to be one of the largest of its kind in California. Why was Warm Springs warm and when did it stop being warm? Pickles? Olive Oil? What has that to do with Fremont? See also, world known industries such as the former General Motors Assembly Plant (now NUMMI) and Kimber Farms (now a church).

There is more history. The 1906 earthquake didn't just destroy buildings in San Francisco. Fremont still has some ruins visible from Osgood Rd. that are from that earthquake. There was an earthquake in 1868 too. Too much information? Is your learning appetite whetted? Take the tour, or buy the book. Heritage Tours is offering a self-guided tour book, due out in March - current price $5.00. I saw a draft of the book and it is full of photos and information. It will be a valuable asset to any library or person wishing to learn more about our diverse past.

Information about the Heritage Tour and tour book can be found at the bus, or:
Celebrate Fremont
4589 Eggers Drive, Fremont
(510) 790-9352

Museum of Local History
190 Anza Street, Fremont
Wed & Fri 10am to 4 pm & Sat/Sun 2nd Weekends monthly 10 am to 4 pm
(510) 623-7907

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
37417 Niles Blvd. Fremont
(510) 494-1411

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