is situated at the entrance to a historic pass in the redwood forested Santa
Cruz Mountains. Artifacts have been found along Saratoga Creek where the
Ohlone Indians camped while on their way through the pass to the ocean beyond.
In 1776, Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, commissioned by Spain to establish
an overland route from Mexico to Alta, California, also passed through the
Seventy years later, in 1846, a Mexican land grant deeded the Saratoga -
Campbell - Cupertino area to early settlers Jose Noriega and his father-in-law,
Jose Fernandez. A subsequent purchase by Manuel Alviso resulted in naming
this land grant area Rancho Quito.
In the mid 1800's, the abundant redwood forests gave rise to a thriving lumber
industry. A sawmill was built in 1847 by William Campbell on the Arroyo Quito
(now Saratoga Creek) about two miles west of the present day Saratoga Village.
This area was then known as Campbell's Gap.
time, the lack of roads made it difficult to get the lumber transported.
An Irishman, Martin McCarty, solved the problem after he leased the mill
from Campbell. He obtained a franchise from the Court of Sessions to build
a toll road from the mill down to the small settlement at the mouth of the
A tollgate was then erected at the location of present day 3rd Street and
Big Basin Way. The toll was $3 for a two horse team and $6 for a four horse
team. The village which developed at this site was named Tollgate.
When Santa Clara County was formed, the county took over the road and eliminated
the tolls. Tollgate was later renamed McCartysville when the enterprising
McCarty laid out plots for development on both sides of Lumber Street, now
known as Big Basin Way.
Other mills were also established at this time along Saratoga Creek - a paper
mill near 6th Street and Big Basin Way which burned in 1883 and a flour mill
located near the present day Hakone Gardens. These milling activities briefly
gave the village the name of Bank Mills.
On march 13, 1865, the villagers voted to rename the community Saratoga.
The name was selected because of the similarity in the mineral content of
the water, located at the mineral springs a mile above the village, to that
of Congress Springs at Saratoga, New York.
In the latter part of the 1800's, the area's fertile soil and available land
saw the emergence of another industry - agriculture. The new village of Saratoga
grew slowly. Town lots 25' x 100' sold for $10 to $50. Farmland sold for
a mere $5 to $40 per acre as the open spaces of wild wheat and poppies slowly
gave way to vineyards and orchards.
Apricots, cherries and French prunes were particularly well-suited to Saratoga's
soil and climate. The 680 acre Glen Una Ranch, located between Saratoga and
Los Gatos, was the world's largest producer of prunes. Also, the internationally
famous Sorosis Farm on Saratoga Avenue shipped its dried fruit worldwide.
Another one of the early ranches, the Garrod Ranch, is still in operation
today as a riding stable and vineyard.
It was during the late 1880's that the sunny hillsides were found to be conducive
to viticulture and many wineries were established.
In 1890, Saratoga became the home of the world-renowned Paul Masson Winery.
The French immigrant, Masson, brought grape cuttings from his native land
to plant on the hillsides along Pierce Road. He was convinced that the rich
California soil could produce grapes for champagnes comparable to those of
The early 1900's found Saratoga developing into a pleasant village as it
became the trading center for the surrounding fruit-growing farms.
A Blossom Festival was held each spring in celebration of the spectacular
beauty and in thanksgiving for the expectant bounty of the fruit trees. This
popular community festival is celebrated annually.
The mountain setting and mild climate also made Saratoga a popular resort
area. Lodges and inns thrived. The most famous was the original Saratoga
Inn, built in 1912 on Saratoga Avenue across the street from the present
day village post office.
Near the inn on the sloping hillsides of the creek. Dorothea Johnston founded
the Theatre-in-the-Glade, which launched the careers of Olivia de Haviland
and her sister, Joan Fontaine.
People also came from miles around to picnic, camp and dance at Long Bridge,
the original site of William Campbell's sawmill on Saratoga Creek. Equally
popular today for many of the same activities, it is now known as Saratoga
During the 1900's, Saratoga developed an enviable reputation as a highly
desirable place to live. The Interurban Rapid Transit of the day began service
which connected Saratoga with the rest of the Santa Clara Valley and beyond.
Saratoga soon became a haven for wealthy San Franciscans who came to build
elegant hillside homes overlooking the lush valley. One of these was the
palatial Mediterranean-style home of the United States Senator James Phelan.
His Villa Montalvo is now a center for the cultural arts.
After world War II, the character of Saratoga changed forever from agricultural
to suburban. As space technology and the defense and electronics industries
were established in nearby communities, Saratoga's open land soon became
more valuable for homes, for the rapidly growing population, than it was
for the fruit orchards.
In 1956, to protect the community from industrial development, the citizens
voted to become the City of Saratoga.
Today, with a population of nearly 30,000, Saratoga proudly preserves its
pioneer heritage. The Historical Museum, dedicated on July 4th, 1976, traces
the community's colorful history with displays of photos and artifacts.