Moraga History – Past Events

March 3, 2024 Speaker Series: Sam Sperry – Moraga’s Train History The Moraga Historical Society hosted a speaker event at the Hacienda’s Casita room featuring Sam Sperry, an avowed train buff with an encyclopedic knowledge of the trains that passed through Moraga from 1913-1957. He has done a shortened version during the past decade for the Third Grade History Tour presented annually by the Moraga Historical Society, but on March 3, dressed in a conductor uniform, he offered a two hour tour de force to a sellout audience. Vera Kochan’s review in Lamorinda Weekly, March 3, 2024: The history of trains in Moraga ‘ an MHS event, offers a summary. For those wishing to revisit his slide show Sam has graciously provided an annotated online version of his Moraga Train History.
November 5, 2023 Speaker Series: Dan Hanel – Author of the In the Shadow of Diablo historical mystery series The Moraga Historical Society hosted a speaker event at the Hacienda’s Casita room featuring Dan Hanel, a science teacher who moonlights as the author of the “In the Shadow of Diablo” historical mystery series. He has published 4 novels in the series which sets a fictional mystery in a historical context involving areas of the East Bay surrounding Mt. Diablo. Without revealing any of the fictional mystery plot he presented to the MHS audience the historical background behind each of his novels. Vera Kochan’s review in Lamorinda Weekly, November 22, 2023: Author Dan Hanel discusses local history at MHS event, provides a good overview of the historical themes underpinning each novel.
August 20, 2023 Speaker Series: James Benney – Native American Indian sites in the East Bay Hills The Moraga Historical Society presented a sold out speaker event at the Hacienda’s Casita room featuring James Benney, author of Native American Indian Sites in the East Bay Hills. His web site documents the many Native American sites in the Bay Area. Benney’s talk focused on the Volvon tribe which thrived on and around Mt Diablo where remnants of the former settlements can be seen along the more obscure trails that traverse this popular East Bay hiking destination. It included a 13 minute video available on YouTube for those who missed the event. Check out Vera Kochan’s review in Lamorinda Weekly, August 30, 2023: Audience at sold-out Historical Society event learns about local Native American sites.
November 6, 2022 Speaker Series: Mary Salon and Mary McKosker – Building the Caldecott Tunnel A 3-way collaboration between the Moraga, Orinda and Lafayette historical societies held at the Orinda Community Center featured Mary McKosker and Mary Solon presenting their book Images of America: Building the Caldecott Tunnel, followed by a brief survey by Allison Burns of her newly published book Images of America: Orinda, with Susan Skilton, author of Images of America: Moraga also present, drew an audience three times larger than expected which forced community center staff to pull the back wall and helpers scramble to set up additional chairs. See Lamorinda Weekly November 23, 2022 review by Vera Kochan.
May 12, 2022 Speaker Series: Carol A. Jensen – Maritime Contra Costa County In our first post-Covid in person speaker event Carol Jensen, author of Images of America: Maritime Contra Costa County, gave an intriguing presentation that described the once vibrant economy that lined the southern shore of the Sacramento River Delta from Martinez to Antioch wrapping around the east side of Mt. Diablo from Oakley through Brentwood to Byron. See Lamorinda Weekly May 23, 2022 review by Vera Kochan.
February 27, 2020 Speaker Series: Vicki McCosker Saputo – Canyon, a Unique Community Longtime Canyon resident, Vicki McCosker Saputo, told of her family’s residence in Canyon since 1850. See Lamorinda Weekly March 18, 2020 review by Vera Kochan.
October 2019 Faux Potluck: Willow Spring Church The membership gathered in the historic Willow Spring Church, built in 1917 as Moraga’s schoolhouse. Socialization and a catered lunch by Sunrise Bistro set the stage to preview the new Moraga Historical Society website.
May 3, 2019 Speaker Series: Dave Newhouse, author, The Incredible Slip Madigan: The Flamboyant Coach Who Modernized Football Dave Newhouse, the former Oakland Tribune sport writer, reviewed his book about the great Slip Madigan, coach of St Mary’s College football in the 1920 and 30’s.
January 24, 2019 Speaker Series: Kent Long, President of the Friends of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe, What’s Up at the Moraga Adobe? Kent Long gave an update on the progress of the J&J Ranch development as it pertains to the purchase and restoration of the Joaquin Moraga Adobe.
October 13, 2018 53rd Anniversary Banquet: Susan Skilton, Board Member and author, Images of America: Moraga The membership gathered in the Lafayette Room at St, Mary’s College to learn about Susan Skilton’s recently published book on the topic of the growth of the town of Moraga.
May 23, 2018 Tour: San Francisco’s Historical Sacred Spaces This docent-guided tour included Mission Dolores, Saint Dominic’s Church, Swedenborgian Church, Sherith Isreal and Grace Cathedral followed by a catered lunch at the Café at the Presidio Golf Club.
March 23, 2018 Speaker Series: Sal Compagno, World War I Historian and President of the World War I Historical Association, World War I and the Bay Area Sal Compagno discussed what part San Francisco and the Bay Area played in the Great War, from anti-submarine warfare and avaiation through supplies, personnel and politics.
January 25, 2018 Speaker Series: James Wright, AIA, The Little Yellow House James Wright, new owner and building Scientist of Orinda’s Little Yellow House built in 1890 by the California Nevada Railroad, discussed the building’s history and what was involved in its restoration.
October 14, 2017 52nd Anniversary Banquet: Father Ken Laverone, The History and Canonization of Junipero Serra Following Lunch in Dryden, St. Mary’s College, Father Ken relayed the research the findings that led to the canonization of Junipero Serra.
May 11, 2017 Tour: A Luxury Chartered Bus Tour to San Francisco This trip included a briefing by the Chinese Historical Society of America’s Historian on the History of U.S./Chinese Relations since the American Revolution. Also included was an exclusive, docent-guided tour of the nationally acclaimed historical exhibit “Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion” at the CHSA’s Julia Morgan designed museum. Catered lunch followed at Sam Wo’s Restaurant and a bus tour of historical sites in the formerly famous Barbary Coast District.
April 20, 2017 Speaker Series: Lew Halloran, retired Naval Officer, and Barbara Davis, retired Historian, high school teacher and official “librarian” of the Mare Island Museum Soon after the Gold Rush of 1849 and after California became a state in 1850, pirates were a considerable nuisance and hazard to California shipping. The U.S. Navy realized the urgency of building a naval base and shipyard in the San Francisco area. So, in 1854 Mare Island Naval Shipyard was founded. For 142 years this site has built everything from frigates to battleships to nuclear submarines. Lew Halloran and Barbara Davis presented a powerpoint presentation of the history of Mare Island from its beginnings to the present.
October 15, 2016 51st Anniversary Banquet: Linus Eukel, Executive Director, John Muir Land Trust Linus Eukel described the acquisition of the 600+ acres of the Carr Ranch, which have been incorporated into the more than 2,500 acres of the John Muir Land Trust. The Carr Family has owned this incredible property for over 100 years. It provides habitat for diverse wildlife across stunning ridge lines, unique rock formations, gorgeous valleys, sweeping views, and is the source of high-quality Bay Area drinking water.
December 2, 2015 Tour: Pan Pacific International Exposition Tour Following the 50th Anniversary Banquet of the Moraga Historical Society, featuring Laura Akley, architectural historian and author of San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, Second Vice President Dick Olsen orchestrated a fun-filled, informational “Romeria” (field trip) highlighting Exposition art and architecture. The group traveled to the De Young Museum to view masterpieces which were displayed at the Palace of Fine Arts during the Exposition, some of which have not been viewed since the culmination of the event. Then it was off to the Palace of Fine Arts to view a model of the Exposition and learn more of the planning and execution of this spectacular undertaking. The trip concluded at the California Historical Society Museum.
October 10, 2015 Moraga Celebrating 50 years, Annual Banquet: Laura Akley, architectural historian and author of San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 The lunch event at St, Mary’s College, Lafayette Room was highlighted by a proclamation to the Moraga Historical Society by Supervisor Candace Anderson and the Town of Moraga. A slide presentation was presented by Laura Akley, architectural Historian and author of San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915.
August 5, 2015 FANDANGO! Celebrating Moraga Historical Society’s 50 years! A rousing party was held at the Hacienda de los Flores to begin celebrating MHS’s 50th Anniversary! Historic folk music of mid-19th century Hispanic California was performed by Los Arribenos de San Francisco. Dinner was catered by Salsa Verde of Concord.
March 19, 2015 Speaker Series: Mary McCosker and Mary Solon, Lafayette Historical Society, authors of Building the Caldecott Tunnel Mary McCosker, lifetime Lafayette resident and President of the Lafayette Historical Society, attended Acalanes High School in Lafayette, and University of California at Berkeley. She taught at Rheem Elementary School in Moraga. Mary Solon, originally from Ohio, came to Lafayette in 1969. The two ladies joined forces to author an Images of America publication Building the Caldecott Tunnel.
October 18, 2014 Banquet: The Moraga Historical Society, The Town of Moraga and St. Mary’s College celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Moraga’s Incorporation Held at St. Mary’s College Soda Center, presentations were made after dinner by former mayors from each of the four decades since incorporation.
August 5, 2014 Potluck: Comida Mexicana con sus Amigos (Mexican Food with your friends) On the beautiful upper patio of the Hacienda de los Flores in Moraga, members gather for traditional Mexican dinner provided by Salsa Verde of Concord.
October 18, 2013 48th Anniversary Banquet: Celebrating St. Mary’s 150 Years Brother Ron Gallagher, 28th President of the college, summarized the 150-year history of St. Mary’s College as guests dined at St. Mary’s Soda Center.
April 25, 2013 Tour: La Salle and Hess Collection Romeria Brother Mel Anderson guided a group of 45 Moraga Historical Society members and guests through Mont La Salle, originally a combination of winery/seminary/monastery for the Christian Brothers. Lunch followed at the Mont La Salle picnic area and a tour of the Hess Art Collection and winery.