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April 30, 2010 > A visit to the sky

A visit to the sky

By William Marshak

Mission Peak towers over Fremont. Nestled just below its peak is a bit of pure rustic charm once called home by early pioneers and families that treasured its serenity. Peak Meadow Ranch has seen many changes but now is preserved by the East Bay Regional Park District that purchased it in 1978.

The ranch is the legacy of Margaret Moore McClure whose descendents still feel her presence when visiting. Margaret's family were pioneers of the area, loved the land and when her father died in 1928, she inherited the property he had purchased from Josiah Stanford dubbed "Peak Meadow Ranch" by her son, Stuart.

On a crisp Saturday afternoon, courtesy of Lila Bringhurst, Mission San Jose Rotary Club was treated to a historical interlude and fascinating remembrances of Margaret's grandson, Roan McClure.

Much of the property has been preserved and many of the buildings still stand. These and remnants of a concrete swimming pool are reminders of days when Margaret maintained her mountain home, welcoming her son and grandchildren for the halcyon days of summer. She was a strong, independent woman who loved the land and only left during inclement weather, traveling down the mountainside by horseback for supplies when necessary.

Roan reminisced of his days at Peak Meadow Ranch as a young boy. He showed the group a "second generation conquistador spur" his father found at age 12 on the property in 1928. A relic of the days of Mexican land ownership, Roan estimated that the spur was made in 1680 in Mexico.

The main house still stands but Roan noted that other outbuildings such as a tack shed, wagon house and bunkhouse built by his grandparents in 1928 are either gone or in disrepair. Wind could be an unruly companion at the ranch and during storms, buildings sometimes disappeared. In 1943 a "tremendous windstorm" created havoc. Repairs were minimal since the war years and structural materials were at a premium, most of the damage was not repaired.

In 1971, a barn door was left open when another windstorm made an appearance and the front wall was destroyed. Minimal repairs allowed the structure to be used as a summer residence for Roan and his brothers. With no insulation or electricity, life was rudimentary. One summer, Roan and one of his brothers, both teenagers, constructed a fireplace for the main house from an architect's specifications in two weeks. He noted that in those days, this type of work ethic was common for young adults.

Much of the history of the land along Mill Creek Road was discussed during the trip including Mexican land grantees and pioneer families, names familiar to many as streets and historical structures. Thousands of hikers come by the property each year as they make their way to Mission Peak along scenic trails. The journey is not only one of length but in time as well. Mission Peak Ranch is only one of many historical jewels in the Greater Tri-City area. Visit for more information about Mission Peak Regional Preserve.

For those interested in a first-hand account of life on the mountain, Roan McClure has written a book about his experiences along Mill Creek Road and Peak Meadow Ranch. To order "Mill Creek Road - Hiking Through History" write to R.A. McClure, P.O. Box 3154, Fremont, CA 94539.

Visit for a fascinating description of sights along Mission Peak trails.

[The author of this article borrowed liberally from information supplied by Lila Bringhurst]

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