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March 5, 2013 > History: Arcadia comes to Warm Springs

History: Arcadia comes to Warm Springs

By Phil Holmes

New to Arcadia Publishing's popular Images of America series is Warm Springs, Fremont by local author Philip Holmes and Patricia Wipfli Schaffarczyk. This pictorial history boasts more than 200 vintage images and provides readers with a unique opportunity to reconnect with the history that shaped their community.

A photo of the first gasoline powered water pump in the Warm Springs area located on the Antone Alvernaz farm is on the cover of the book. Inside the cover is an 1878 map of the Warm Springs area. Acknowledgements recognize some of the important contributions made to the book by local residents.

The first chapter of the book briefly covers contributions of the Ohlone, early explorers, the Mission and Rancho eras. Native Americans discovered the springs that bubbled from the ground and recognized their value. Pioneer Spanish families used the springs to wash their clothes. When Mission San Jose was founded, the springs became part of the Mission.

Don Jose Jesus Vallejo came in 1836 to dispose of the Mission properties. Fulgencio Higuera was granted a large rancho that included the Warm Springs area from Mission Peak to San Francisco Bay. His family built adobe homes near the springs and Agua Caliente Creek. Clement Colombet bought the area around the springs and established a health resort that became widely known; customers came to drink, gamble, eat and enjoy the medicinal water.

The earthquake of 1868 damaged buildings and ended the resort days. Fulgencio sold 3,000 acres of his best farmland to Americans who not only converted the area to farms, but built houses and settlements. The railroad came through in 1869 and named their station Warm Springs. There was even a boat landing in the muddy bay waters and farmers established vineyards on the slopes above the bay.

Leland Stanford purchased the Warm Springs Resort in 1870. His brother, Josiah W. Stanford took over management of the Colombet ranch, planted more vineyards and developed the winery. By 1875, wine production reached 50,000 gallons a year and Warm Springs became the second largest wine producer in the country. Josiah W. and his family managed the property for many years. He had a Winton automobile that was probably the first auto in the area. The property was sold in 1923 and eventually, part of it became the world famous Weibel Champagne Vineyards of Fred Weibel and family. The other part of the property became Hidden Valley Dude Ranch owned by the Goossen family.

The Warm Springs area was a rural farming community of predominately Portuguese immigrant families from the 1920's to the 1960's. It was a close knit community with most activities centered on family gatherings, church functions and school and club activities. Neighbors helped each other and served as fire fighters in the volunteer fire department.

General Motors established their huge factory in the 1960's and Warm Springs began to change. Housing developments, new roads, more traffic, crowded schools and factories became part of the scene. The Apple Computer plant became a prominent part of a number of high tech and other business firms. Warm Springs began to lose its reputation as an isolated frontier area.

There have been recent attempts to preserve some of the special features of the area including reconstruction of the Higuera-Galindo adobe and restoration of the Curtner Mansion. The National Wildlife Refuge and the Mission Peak Regional Preserve have been set aside to protect wildlife and provide areas for enjoyment of the natural environment. Trail hikes up Mission Peak are popular and City parks have been developed for recreation and social activities.

Warm Springs, Fremont also covers Drawbridge, a ghost town on Station Island, part of the Union Pacific Railroad route, six miles south of downtown Fremont. It was formerly a hunting village but has been a ghost town since 1979.

Warm Springs is a fascinating and unique place with a rich history and a bustling, promising future. Residents have always been proud of the area and feel privileged to live there.

Book signing events:

Thursday, Mar 7
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Warm Springs School
47370 Warm Springs Blvd.

Sunday, Mar 10
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Museum of Local History
190 Anza St.

Saturday, Mar 23
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Spin a Yarn
45915 Warm Springs Blvd.

Saturday, Apr 6
10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Fremont Main Library
2400 Stevenson Blvd.

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