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1. The Valley

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The Valley BannerStroll into the Past

Santa Clara celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2002. Although incorporated on July 5, 1852, Santa Clara has a much longer history. The seven display stations provide an introduction to the unique story of Santa Clara.

Valley & Bay Environment

Santa Clara Valley has always been one of the most naturally beautiful regions of the world. Its mild climate and fertile soil created an area rich in the resources needed to sustain life. Once, grasslands and oak groves dotted the valley floor and were home to deer, bear, elk, and antelope. Many small streams, edged by willows and sycamores, wound their way to the San Francisco Bay filled with fish and waterfowl.

The first human inhabitants arrived in Santa Clara Valley about 10,000 years ago. By 800-1100 A.D. these Native Americans evolved into the group of people we call the Ohlone. They lived in tribal communities comprised of one or more villages. Each village consisted of 50 to 100 people living in family houses with the chief living in the largest. The Santa Clara area was a tribal district that contained three large villages.

Ohlone Life

Ohlone homes were made of branches covered with a thatch of tule reeds. The Ohlone people were hunters and gatherers who used bows, snares and traps for hunting and reed boats for fishing. Acorns from abundant oak trees provided their staple food. The acorns and seeds they gathered were stored and cooked in baskets. They traded with other California tribal groups for stone tools and abalone shells.

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