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Centennial History Trail

The Morgan Hill Centennial History Trail was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Morgan Hill. Starting at the center marker and then proceeding along an expanding spiral trail, you will pass approximately 100 raised post markers describing events in the history of Morgan Hill and the surrounding area. Also in the walking path are granite markers denoting significant events in United States history. 

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History and Timeline

4000 BC - "Circle of Circles" archaeological sites show evidence of early human presence

4000 BC to 1769 - Ohlone Native Americans live in Morgan Hill area for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers in 1769

[In path] 1776 - Declaration of Independence

1776 - Juan Bautista de Anza and his party camp at Llagas Creek on the way from Mexico to the City of San Francisco

1797- El Camino Real (Monterey Rd.) connects Mission San Juan Bautista with Pueblo San Jose

1835 - Rancho Ojo de Agua de la Coche granted to Juan Maria Hernandez

1844 - Murphy-Stephens-Townsend Party (Marin Murphy Sr., Captain Elisha Stephens and Dr. John Townsend) bring the first wagon train across the Sierra Nevada

1845 - Rancho Ojo de Aqua de la Coche conveyed to the Bernard Murphy family

[In Path] 1850 - California becomes 31st state and Santa Clara County is formed

1850 - Martin Murphy family moves to property on New Avenue in what is now San Martin

1852 - William Tennant opens 21 Mile House, a roadhouse and stagecoach stop at Tennant Ave and Monterey Rd

1853 - 18 Mile Roadhouse opens in Madrone

1854 - Martin Murphy Sr. donates land and builds St. Martin Catholic Church in what becomes San Martin

1855 - Burnett School in Madrone is established as the first public school between San Jose and Gilroy

1858 - The Butterfield Stage Company begins service to Morgan Hill

1859 - Diana Helen Murphy is born to Daniel Murphy and Maria Fisher Murphy, heiress to Ranco Laguna Seca in Coyote Valley

[In Path] 1860 - United States Civil War begins

1869 - Malquerra Winery built in Madrone

1869 - Santa Clara and Pajaro Railroad comes to Morgan Hill, later purchased by Southern Pacific Railroad

1873 - Tiburcio Vasquez raids 21 Mile House. He was later hung at San Jose Jail by Sheriff John H. Adams for whom Adams School was named. The killings for which he was hung took place in Tres Pinos in San Benito county.

1880 - Italian immigrants came to Morgan Hill in the years of the great Mediterranean migration to the United States, between 1880-1930. Their commitment to family, strong work ethic and passion to succeed laid the cultural foundation for a strong agrarian economy that lasted into the 1960s. They planted orchards and vineyards across the valley floor. April brought a sea of snow white prune blossoms, followed by warm summer days and cool nights, ideal for the growing prunes, apricots and wine grapes

1880 - Madrone Soda Springs resort opens at Pine Ridge with transportation from Madrone

1882 - Martin Murphy's granddaughter Diana Helen Murphy secretly marries Hiram Morgan Hill

1882 - Daniel Murphy, "largest landowner in the world" dies

1884 - Morgan and Diane Hill build their country home on Murphy family land at Villa Mira Monte

1892 - The Hills sell most of their land holdings to C.H. Phillips, who subdivided it into town lots 


1892 - Henry Coe Jr. and Charles Coe purchase Pine Ridge Ranch which later becomes Coe Park

1893 - First church (Methodist - Episcopal) built at 4th St. and Monterey Rd


1894 - The Ward family establishes Oak Glen Ranch in Paradise Valley

1894 - George Edes starts publishing Morgan Hill Sun, now Morgan Hill Times

1894 - First Morgan Hill grammar school built on 4th Street

1894 - First 4th of July parade held in Morgan Hill

1895 - Machado School founded on Sycamore Ave.

1896 - Railroad calls area "Huntington", but passengers ask to get off at "Morgan Hill's Ranch"

1905 - First bank (a branch of Bank of Italy) established by A.P.Giannini is opened in new Votaw Building at NE corner of 2nd St. and Monterey Rd

[In Path] 1906 - San Francisco Earthquake

1906 - Live Oak Union High School built on SE corner at location of current Britton Middle School

1906 - Town of Morgan Hill incorporated with more than 500 residents on November 10, 1906

1907 - Morgan Hill Volunteer Fire Department established on January 17, 1907

1908 - Leonard Coates establishes his nursery on West Dunne Ave. and is credited with developing a larger, juicier French prune

1909 - Isola Kennedy battles a mountain lion to save several boys but dies of rabies

1909 - Catherine Dunne sponsors building of first St. Catherine's Church on SE corner of Dunne Ave. and Monterey Rd.

[In Path] 1911 - California passes Women's Suffrage Amendment

1913 - Hiram Morgan Hill dies in Elko, Nevada at the Nevada Villa Miramonte and is buried in Santa Clara Catholic Cemetery

1914 - First library established in a store on the NW corner of 2nd St. and Monterey Rd.

1915 - Farmers' Union Packinghouse opens at 4th St. and Depot Ave.

1916 - Masonic Lodge established in Morgan Hill

[In Path] 1917 - United States enters World War I 

1919 - Original Friendly Inn social hall is constructed on NW corner of Monterey Rd. and Main Ave.

1923 - Original Granada Theater opens on Monterey Rd. between 2nd St. and 3rd Streets

1923 - Morgan Hill Elementary School opens with 202 students at NE corner of Dunne Ave. and Monterey Rd.

1925 - Emilio and Emilia Guglielmo establish family winery on West Main Ave.

1925 - The Grange and Flower Lover's Club founded

1926 - Henry and son Harry Skeels build the Skeels Hotel on the NW corner of Monterey Rd. & 3rd Street; Lloyd Skeels becomes Constable and later Fire Chief of Morgan Hill and Madrone

1926 - Sweden Crown Prince and Princess visit Morgan Hill for dedication of Sveadal, a Swedish resort in Uvas Canyon

1927 - Eastman Kodak heiress Gertrude Achilles builds Fountain Oaks (near Tennant Ave. and Foothill Ave.) and house nearby for her friend Charles Kellogg - "The Nature Singer"

1930 - First City Hall built at SW corner of Main Ave. and Monterey Rd.

1937 - Lady Diana Murphy Hill Rhodes dies in Cannes, France

1938 - Lions Club formed in Morgan Hill

[In Path] 1941 - Pearl Harbor attacked; United States enters World War II 

1941 - Department of Civil Defense establishes an aircraft lookout station on Nob Hill (100' west of original city water tank) for duration of World War II. Station identifier was "26GRACE3". Doug Downer and his school friend (both 11 years old) did their shift every Wednesday morning from 6:00am to 8:00am and then headed down the hill to the Morgan Hill School

1942 - Evacuation and internment of Morgan Hill Japanese-Americans, many later joined 442nd US Army Regimental Combat Team and fought in Europe, earning unprecedented decorations. The "Go For Broke" patch is their official emblem. It was designed by Mitch Miyamoto after an original patch designed by the U. S War Department was rejected by the men of the 442nd. The original design depicted a yellow hand holding a bloody sword. The now famous "Liberty" design of the hand holding a torch was officially adopted by the 442nd on December 16,1943. The patch symbolizes freedom and liberty and was proudly worn by over 18,000 Japanese American soldiers during World War II

1945 - John Moreno begins 30 years on police force, serving as Chief for 25 years

1948 - First traffic light installed on Monterey Rd. at 2nd St.

1950 - Anderson Dam constructed in the east foothills

1950 - Chamber of Commerce formed in Morgan Hill

1952 - Kiwanis Club chartered in Morgan Hill

1953 - Sada Coe donates Pine Ridge Ranch for Coe Park

1954 - Morgan Hill Airport operates off Cochrane Road near current Sutter Blvd. Closed in 1980

1954 - Chesbro Dam constructed in western foothills

1955 - Rotary Club of Morgan Hill chartered

1958 - Madrone annexed by City of Morgan Hill

1961 - Bonfante family opens first Nob Hill Foods Center at Main and Hale Avenues

1966 - Morgan Hill-Burnett, San Martin, Machado, Encinal Elementary and Live Oak Union High School Districts merge to form Morgan Hill Unified School District

1967 - Buddhist Community Center opens on Murphy Avenue

1969 - Flying Lady Restaurant and Hill Country Aircraft Museum open on Foothill Avenue

1970 - Section of US 101 Freeway opens between Cochrane on the north and S. Monterey in Gilroy, bypassing both downtown Morgan Hill and Downtown Gilroy

1971 - Morgan Hill Historical Society incorporated


1972 - George Chiala Farms begins operations

1973 - Morgan Hill opens new City Hall and Library on the Civic Center site

[In Path] 1976 - United States Bicentennial Celebration


Early 70s - After heavy rains raw sewage flowed down Monterey Road:  Alone Ranger, Wayne Winger, sparked controversy and action to push for slower growth and a buildup of the city infrastructure.

1976 - Live Oak Emerald Regime Band & Color Guard wins first National Championship title

1976 - Virginia Mae Days becomes first female mayor, later becoming a judge

1977 - "Measure E" passes, Morgan Hill's first residential growth control initiative 

1980 - Morgan Hill Ranch Business Park opens south of Cochrane Road

1980 - The First Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival

1981 - American Association of University Women, Morgan Hill Branch is chartered, promoting education and equity for women and girls

1982 - El Toro Mountain becomes permanent open space

1983 - Morgan Hill Historical Museum is established at Civic Center in the relocated 1911 Acton House

1984 - Morgan Hill earthquake, 6.2 on the Richter Scale

1984 - 101 Freeway section north of Morgan Hill opens, eliminating "Blood Alley" on Old Monterey Highway

1987 - Sunsweet fruit drying plant closes at 3rd and Depot Streets

1990 - The first Taste of Morgan Hill downtown celebration

1991 - Veterans Memorial Square dedicated at First St. and Monterey Rd.

1998 - Renovated Hiram Morgan Hill House, a registered National Historic Site, opens to the public at Villa Mira Monte.

[In Path] 2001 - "9/11" World Trade Towers attacked 

2002 - Cultural and Community Center Playhouse and Gavilan College branch open on NE corner of Dunne Avenue

Monterey Road

2004 - Poppy Jasper Film Festival established in Morgan Hill

2004 - Sobrato High School opens on Burnett Avenue Aquatic Center opens on Condit Road

2005 - Morgan Hill Museum (former 1911 Acton Home) relocated to the Villa Mira Monte site on Monterey Road

2006 - Morgan Hill Sister Cities: San Martin de Hidalgo, Mexico; San Casciano Val di Pesa, Italy; Headford, Ireland; and Mizuho, Japan

2006 - Morgan Hill's year-long Centennial Celebration culminated on November 10, 2006, the centennial anniversary date


2006 - Belle's Bell -- Donated by local teacher Belle McCormick who turned 100 on May 2, 2006. The resides at Villa Mira Monte

The following relevant and current milestones are not depicted on the Centennial History Trail:

1950 - Residents vote down a plan to extend Santa Teresa. The impact of that decision is felt today.

2012 - The District’s $198,250,000 General Obligation Bond (Measure G) successfully passed in the November 6, 2012 election, enabling the District to finance technology and facility improvements. 

2014 - Planning for new downtown, including a parking Garage and purchase of property

2015 - Renovation of downtown and testing the elimination of second lane each way on Monterey Road

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