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All you wanted to know about
Orchards, Tankhouses and Windmills
but now can find out:

A logo created by the San Jose Chamber of Commerce in the early 1920's to promote Santa Clara County as an idyllic place to live.

At that time the county earned the nickname "The Valley of Heart's Delight" a modern day Eden, because of the acres and acres of trees laden with cherries, apricots, prunes, pears, walnuts and plums.

This logo was used by History San Jose from their recent exhibit called "The Valley of Heart's Delight" The exhibit was so popular that it was on display for 18 months.

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  One of the last big cherry orchards in bloom on Monterey Highway measuring 250 acres.

"No brush can paint the picture, No pen describe the sight, That one finds in April, In the Valley of Heart's Delight"

From a poem entitled "The Valley of Heart's Delight" by Clara Louise Lawrence.



How did this valley grow?

Looking back at the orchard era:

Once known the world over, the Santa Clara Valley was the leading producer of canned fresh fruit and processed fried fruit. The valley contained the most breathtaking scenery and views that inspired the name, "The Valley of Heart's Delight an ocean of pink and white blossoms in the spring time and busy canneries in the fall.

Naturalist John Muir wrote the following depiction of this area, "The landscapes of Santa Clara Valley were fairly drenched with sunshine, all the air was quivering with the songs of meadowlarks, and the hills were so covered with flowers that they seemed to be painted."

At the turn of the century, apricots, cherries, prunes, pears and walnuts were the bounty that filled the Valley's orchards. The rich soil and sunny climate were well suited to grow acres upon acres of healthy fruit trees. A little more than Fifty years ago there were 8 million fruit trees planted on 600,000 acres. Today 95% of the orchards are gone. Today it is Coyote Valley that stands as the last proud reminder of this Valley's agricultural past. and while it is important for any area to maintain a healthy and stable economic growth, this Valley's came at a price. The orchards that took many years to develop and perfect; was in fact gone, in the span of one generation. That is why it is important to speak to the decision makers of holding off the building and developing of Coyote Valley. There are enough strip malls, office buildings, housing developments, shopping centers and of course people, who needs more!

(This small exerpt was taken from the magazine Santa Clara Valley Lifestyles May/June 2001.)



There are various books written on Orchards my favorite book being "Voices from the Orchards" by Carolyn Marie Downey and Illistrated by Margaret O'Keefe

The book takes you on a trip within the context of a orchard growing season from Winter through Fall.

It describes detailed daily operations of an orchard plus over 21 personal stories of orchardists and seasonal workers who sweated and dreamed and harvested "The fields of gold."

San Jose Mercury News (CA) January 11, 2005 Section: Local Edition: Morning Final Page: 2B

READERS: TAKE A BITE OUT OF VALLEY'S BOOK LEIGH WEIMERS column I've been reading ''Epitaph for a Peach'' by David Mas Masumoto, and really enjoying it. I hope you'll enjoy it, too. ''Epitaph for a Peach'' is this year's choice for the Silicon Valley Reads program, in which as many people here as possible read the same book in January and then get together in February to share their impressions and insights. Everyone sees the world from an individual viewpoint, and the same applies to what we read. Talking it over is a great way to learn more about where we live.

WRITE STUFF: It won't be all words about farming next month. Photographer Gabriel Ibarra plans to illustrate one of Masumoto's appearances(Feb 24,4-5PM) 921 S. 1St at the BibliotecaLatinoamericana) with photos he's taken of the surviving orchards on the outskirts of the valley. In Silicon Valley style, though, it'll be a PowerPoint presentation. (More at

My contemporary poem aptly named:

"The Santa Clara Valley"

Here lies Santa Clara Valley Once re nowned for its orchards

Now a multitude of Figure 8 off ramps and parking lots

Spring brought forth blossoms Stretching for miles

In passing one finds Multiplexes And glorified coffee "In" spots

Where once men tilled the soil And reaped a harvest of Gold

Today only identical subdivisions Occupy paved over land

Crops were savored in New York And Asia

Au contraire Menus are spewing Super size and market gimmicks

Progress they call it 24/7 High rises and SUVs

What is left, my friend? Of our glorious valley

Is this the death knell? Or can we still save Our one last open Space Coyote

Gabriel Ibarra 04/05/04



Wilma Wool's tankhouse on Will Wool Drive in San Jose.

Tankhouse are associated with farming communities which date back from the late 19th century. This book was published in 1977 for a girls scout project. The girls chose to document the above structures for the Bicentennial year. In all they researched 225 seperate sites, taking pictures and interviewing the owners. The project captured a noble structure that was quickly dissapearing from the landscape.The book was republished by Robert and Louise Levy in 1996

My love for them began when I read the book "Windmills-Water Towers and TankHouses of Santa Clara County. I first saw the book in at the Cupertino County Library in 2001.

Leafing through the book I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great to see how many of these structures are left and re-photograph them under an experienced hand. In my spare time I have found eight, that is to say that I have looked close to 40 locations. This is a great loss if only a hand full are left of the valley's orchard and farm period. I hope to put together a small book with these findings in the near future. Meanwhile I am scouting Gilroy, Livermore, Morgan Hill and San Martin with more success

Two great links I found on the web: The first an informative and artistic site on tankhouses in Northern California & the second a collective fact finding site on documenting and saving the remaining tankhouses in Fremont.

Tank houses of the greater bay area

Tankhouses of Fremont , CA



An interesting site if you are looking to buy an authentic windmill for your garden. There is a great historical article included called "Windmills saved the West."

American Windmills

Big Country Windmills

How many windmills would $ 87 Billion buy?

Vintage windmills

Windmills at work