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September 14, 2010 > History: Mill Creek Road, Hiking Through History

History: Mill Creek Road, Hiking Through History

Mission Peak is the most dominant landmark of our area. It would be very difficult to live here and not notice this "sentinel of the valley". However, many residents do not know about Mill Creek Road, which used to be the only access to the peak.

A new book entitled "Mill Creek Road, Hiking Through History," has been written and published by Roan A. McClure. He notes in the preface that the book is his "attempt to share the history of the pioneer families that lived along Mill Creek Road." He considers it a hikers' guide but has included over 100 photographs to assist those who cannot walk or drive up Mill Creek Road.

Roan writes from experience because some of his earliest memories are the stories told by his grandmother, Margaret Moore McClure, who lived on the family ranch on Mission Peak. Roan was the last family member to live year-round on the ranch. In 1977 and 1978 he lived with his wife and children in the family home called Peak Meadow Ranch. He spent three years in research, documenting what he found and wrote about, and now invites readers to add to the information he has gathered.

In the acknowledgements, Roan recognizes his grandmother, Margaret Moore McClure, for "passing on the family heritage." He also thanks some special people for their suggestions and proofreading, especially Lila Bringhurst for her final editing. Roan also expresses appreciation to the volunteers at the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Oakland and the staff of the Alameda County Public Works Agency Archives in Hayward.

In the introduction Roan writes about pioneers and the roads they make, noting that "pioneers prepare the trail for those who follow." The area in this land-and-family story goes roughly from Interstate 680 on the north to the Alameda County border. Roan made a personal title search, gathering the stories of the families who lived on and around Mill Creek Road and Mission Peak.

In the book Roan invites you to go with him on a historical walk along Mill Creek Road. He includes the odometer reading and GPS location to pinpoint particular property locations along the way, giving historical information about the land and families that owned and lived in each place. Family names that are familiar in our local history include McClure, Gallegos, Knittle, Overacker, and Moore. Roan then takes you beyond the end of Mill Creek Road and tells about other families who ranched there, including well-known names such as Stanford, Millard, Kell, Corbett, Blacow, Trenouth, and Wool.

An especially interesting feature of the book is Appendix 1, a glossary of additional photographs of the people and sites referred to in the story. There are over 60 photographs that will be especially valuable to people not familiar with Mill Creek Road and the people connected with it. Even those familiar with some of the history will enjoy the pictures.

Appendix 2 gives a summary of trails leading to California, while Appendix 3 offers Chronological Property Ownership maps for the 18 properties examined in the book with dates of patents. The index is complete and useful.

The endnotes contain very detailed information related to Roan's research. The inquisitive reader will find summaries of historical information that Roan located and organized. It would take many days to gather even parts of this information.

Roan, a Vietnam veteran and historian, has dedicated the book to his family and pioneer ancestors. After East Bay Regional Park District took over the Peak Meadow Ranch property and his grandmother died, Roan moved out of state and now resides in Oregon with his wife, Kandace.

Roan will give a talk and sign books at the Museum of Local History (190 Anza Street, Fremont) on Monday, September 27 at 7:15 p.m. This interesting talk is sponsored by the Washington Township Historical Society. Come and enjoy. The book, Mill Creek Road, Hiking Through History, may be purchased at the museum for $20.

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