Rich History of the Corral Hollow andÃ?Â Tesla
The Corral Hollow Canyon and the Tesla Valley hold a significant place in our regionÃ¢â?¬â?¢s and StateÃ¢â?¬â?¢s history.Ã?Â The canyon and ridge tops were seasonal hunting and gathering grounds for Native American Yokuts from the floor of the Central Valley and the Ohlone from the East Bay.Ã?Â Tesla Park includes a pre-Columbian Native American petroglyph carved in a rock outcropping.
Ã?Â From the mid-1770s, plague the canyon pass – then called El Camino Viejo – from the Livermore Valley to the San Joaquin Valley was the route used by the Spaniards to travel from the East Bay through the Livermore Valley, down the western edge of the Central Valley to the Tehachapi’s and Southern California.Ã?Â During the Mexican period and then the Gold Rush it was a key route from Monterey to SutterÃ¢â?¬â?¢s Fort and then from the SF Bay Area to the southern Gold Country in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties.
Ã?Â In the late 1800s, the first commercial coal mines in the State were opened at Tesla where the company town of Tesla flourished for over two decades. Clay and sand were also extracted at Tesla. The clay was used at brick and pottery plants located in the nearby town of Carnegie, 2 miles east down the canyon. The sand was shipped to glass plants in Stockton.Ã?Â A short line railroad, The Alameda and San Joaquin Railroad, was built to ship the coal and brick products and sand to Stockton and other ports long the San Joaquin River, and then to markets in the SF Bay Area and Southern California.Ã?Â Carnegie bricks were used in buildings throughout the region, including in many East Bay cities. Carnegie and Tesla, including stores, schools, hotels, and churches, grew to over 2000 people by the early 1900s. When the mines closed down around 1912, the brick kilns were blown up, the mines boarded and the towns abandoned.Ã?Â
Ã?Â On the Livermore side of Corral Hollow/Tesla Road, a portion of the de Anza Trail is already designated as a National Historic Trail. State Historic Landmarks have been designated for Carnegie and the Zink House with two more in planning for the historic Tesla town site and Manganese Switch along the canyon. Unfortunately, the existing markers along the roadway have been destroyed, and much of what remained of the historic Carnegie town site pulverized by intensive OHMV use.Ã?Â
Geographic and Habitat Resources, Biological Diversity
In addition to its rich cultural history, Tesla Park has rich biological resources as well. The area is primarily mountain savannah grassland and Blue Oak land with scenic ridge tops and dramatic canyons feeding into Corral Hollow Creek which historically drained into the San Joaquin River.Ã?Â Its ridge tops provide commanding views of the Central Valley, Sierras, Mount Diablo and the southern coast range toward Mount Hamilton. In its own right it is truly a naturally scenic area that should be preserved.
Ã?Â The park land supports an unexpectedly wide range sensitive plant and wildlife species, many of which are endangered, threatened and managed such as Red Legged Frog, Yellow-Legged Frog, Tiger Salamander, Kit Fox, Alameda Whipsnake, Tule Elk, and Large Flowered Fiddleneck.Ã?Â The level of biological diversity is unique. The area, for example, is considered to support one of the most diverse frog populations in the region.Ã?Â The State Parks Natural Resources Program has identified Blue Oak lands, of which the new park land is largely comprised, as one of its targeted preservation objectives. The Tesla Park is in the Corral Hollow Creek watershed, the primary water source feeding this wonderful plant and wildlife diversity. Two private landowners participate in the State Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Private Lands Management Program for Tule Elk. The area serves as a critical east-west and north-south habitat corridor for wildlife.
A Better Plan forÃ?Â Tesla ParkÃ?Â Ã?Â
This rich array historical and natural resources can provide a valuable destination for outdoor environmental and historical education for area schools and a research location for colleges and universities.Ã?Â Ã?Â Further, the location of the Tesla Park land between the Tri-Valley region of Alameda County and western San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties allows it to serve these growing metropolitan areas where few current natural, historic or low-impact recreation options exist. The State Parks Department has identified the goal to improve recreational opportunities for Central Valley residents because they are underserved.Ã?Â Tesla Park directly meets this objective andÃ?Â can literally be a geographic recreational bridge between the Tri-Valley region of Alameda County and the Central Valley.
Because of unique range of historical, cultural, geographic, habitat and biological resources contained in Tesla Park, and the destructive impacts of Off Highway Motor Vehicle (OHMV) use, including at the adjacent Carnegie (State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), Friends of Tesla Park is workingÃ?Â to develop Tesla State Park separate from Carnegie SVRA with no off highway vehicle use. Some of the features that Tesla Park could include that can be designed to protect and preserve the landscape are:
- Preservation and interpretive development of the historic Tesla town site andÃ?Â the surrounding village sites and mines
- Hiking trail system and interpretive development throughout park to historical sites, Native American cultural sites, wildlife/plant viewing, and scenic routes
- East-West link to other East Bay and San Joaquin Valley trails between the Bay Area an Central ValleyÃ?Â
- Dedicated preserve areas for rare and endangered wildlife and plants
- Picnic sites
- Controlled bicycle and equestrian trails, including providing bike and equestrian route links between Livermore Valley and San Joaquin Valley
Future Opportunities for the Corral Hollow
Beyond the immediate potential of the Tesla Park land, there are future opportunities to create a unique recreation destination within the Corral Hollow Canyon as a whole. Comprehensive planning by the State Department of Parks for the entire Corral Hollow/Tesla roadway can be initiated since public agencies are now among the largest landowners along the roadway. In addition to Carnegie SVRA and the new Tesla Park land, the State Department of Fish and Game operations a small wildlife preserve and LLNL Site 300 front the Corral Hollow/Tesla roadway.Ã?Â Hiking, biking, horseback riding between the East Bay and the Central Valley could readily be developed providing an unparalleled recreation experience. With nearly 10,000 acres of land already owned by the State and Federal governments, the Tesla/Corral Hollow Roadway should be a priority target for recreation resources. The State has a unique opportunity to preserve in the canyon valuable historical, cultural, natural and biological resources that are not present elsewhere in the State in such a concentrated locale.
In addition to its rich history, apoplectic
Tesla Park has rich natural resources. Tesla Park is located in the upland Coastal Mountain Range between Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton. As part of the Diablo Range from the north and Mount Hamilton Range from the south, Tesla Park is an important link in the preservations efforts in the region. The area is primarily Blue Oak woodland, mountain savannah grassland, scrub sage and riparian woodlands with scenic ridge tops and dramatic canyons feeding into Corral Hollow Creek which drains into the San Joaquin River system. Tesla Park includes land along the Tri-Valley watershed and a portion of the park drains into the Arroyo Seco and Alameda Creek. Its ridge tops provide commanding views of the Central Valley, Sierras, Mount Diablo and the southern coast range toward Mount Hamilton. In its own right it is truly a naturally scenic area that should be preserved.
Tesla Park supports an unexpectedly wide range of sensitive wildlife and plant species, many of which are threatened, rare and managed such as California Red Legged Frog, Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog, California Tiger Salamander, Western Spadefoot Toad and Tule Elk. The level of biological diversity is unique with 50 LISTED species documented on site and over 80 more LISTED species expected based on known habitats and sightings on neighboring property. The area, for example, is considered to support one of the most diverse vertebrate populations in the region and has been a field study area for UC Berkeley and other universities since the 1940s.
The geologic zone where the Tesla coal mines were located is special to paleontologists as well. Referred to as the Tesla Formation, the coal, sand and clay deposits were laid down during the Eocene when the area was a tropical forest. Numerous hardwood and evergreen fossils dating back millions of years have been found at Tesla and are housed at the UCB Paleontology Museum. One specimen, a palm frond fossil, is dated at 45-50 million years old.
There are many factors that promote the biological diversity in Tesla Park and the Corral Hollow Canyon. Tesla Park is in the transition area between biotic zones where many species exist at the outmost extent of their range. Tesla Park is in the large Corral Hollow Creek watershed, the primary water source feeding its plant and wildlife diversity. As part of the Diablo Range, Tesla Park serves as a critical east-west and north-south habitat corridor along the upland Coastal Mountain Range. Tesla Park represents a large intact native landscape and wild land that has been softly touched, except for grazing and historic mining activity of over 100 years ago.
The important natural diversity of Tesla Park has been identified by many other govenrnment and preservation organizations. Land use in the Corral Hollow Canyon is now focused in preservation not development. Expansion of Carnegie SVRA would damage these regional preservation efforts.
Some of recognition Tesla Park has received as a priority preservation area includes:
- The East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has designated Tesla Park as one of its top Botanical Priority Protection Areas.
- All conservation priority for Zone 10 of the East Alameda County Conservation Strategy is contained and represented within Tesla Park.
- There is a high concentration of California Tiger Salamander and California Red Legged Frog sightings in Tesla Park, plus other important species, as documented in the California Natural Diversity Data Base (CNDDB)
- The State Natural Resources Agency has identified Blue Oak woodlands, of which Tesla Park is largely comprised, as one of its targeted preservation objectives.
- Conservation Lands Network has identified the Tesla Park area as a Critical Linkage habitat corridor.
- Tule Elk range in the Corral Hollow Canyon and on Tesla Park with CDFW oversight, including under the Private Lands Management Program.
- Tesla Park is within the Diablo Mountains (Ohlone) Golden Eagle range which has the largest concentration of Golden Eagle nesting pairs in the United States
- Tesla Park serves as an important raptor migratory corridor and foraging buffer for the Altamont Pass Wind Energy Resource Area.
- Department of Fish and Game and Contra Costa Water District have established preserves and conservation easements in the Corral Hollow Canyon.
- Several private land owners have established conservation easements for San Joaquin kit fox and other threatened species in the Corral Hollow Canyon area.
- USFWS is undertaking a reintroduction project for the federally endangered Large Flowered Fiddle Neck plant which is located only in Corral Hollow Canyon.
For more about the important natural resource conservation goals Tesla Park serves, see the following links:
Return to main Tesla Park page.