FortyFive: Santa Clara


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long quest.

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Mission Santa Clara around 1910
Mission Santa Clara around 1910

Much of the early history of Santa Clara Valley, AKA Silicon Valley, centers around the mission town of Santa Clara. Mission Santa Clara de Asís, the eighth Spanish mission built in California, was founded on January 12, 1777 and the town incorporated in 1852. Santa Clara University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of California was built around the mission. Called the “Georgetown of the West”, my son graduated cum laude from Santa Clara University in 2011.

Santa Clara is located in the center of Silicon Valley and is home to the headquarters of many high-tech companies. Affymetrix, Agilent Technologies, Applied Materials, Atheros, Extreme Networks, Intel,, McAfee, National Semiconductor, Nvidia, OmniVision Technologies, Palo Alto Networks, PMC-Sierra, Synaptics, Marvell Technology Group and Trident Microsystems are among the companies headquartered in Santa Clara. Great America, the go to amusement park of the bay area is also located in the town.

Beginning in the 2014 National Football League season, the San Francisco 49ers will play their home games at just built Levi’s Stadium, which opened on July 17, 2014. The stadium is scheduled to host Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

Saratoga Creek flows through the towns of Saratoga, Cupertino, San Jose, and Santa Clara where it joins San Tomas Aquino Creek (FortyOne: Afternoon Sun) shortly before joining the Guadalupe Slough and south San Francisco Bay by Alviso (ThirtyThree: Sin City).

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I have been out most of the week camping at Morro Bay and this was painted last week the same day as FortyThree: Fruit Tree.

Santa Clara, 8x10, oil on board
Santa Clara, 8×10, oil on board

I painted Saratoga Creek previously in TwentyEight: The Tollgate closer to the western Santa Cruz Mountain range and in more of a natural setting. This painting was done from Benton Street right in the middle of suburbia, not far from the university and mission. Although in this area the creek is more of an engineered channel (you can see some of the concrete curbing along the right side of the creek) it is still one of those wonderful little scenes all over Silicon Valley right below our noses!


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TwentyEight: The Tollgate


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long quest.

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The Pacific Congress Springs Resort Hotel around 1900
The Pacific Congress Springs Resort Hotel around 1900

Starting in 1847, the little pioneer town nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains of Santa Clara Valley had been called Arroyo Quito, Campbell Creek, Campbell’s Gap, Tollgate, McCartysville, and Bank Mills over the years. In the middle of the Civil War, the townspeople came together to decide a permanent name. Just upstream from their town was a spring which had almost the same chemical content as Congress Springs, of Saratoga Springs, New York, so they named their small town Saratoga, and it remains today.

Once an industrial town, producing lumber from the nearby hills, flour mills, paper, cardboard, furniture, tanneries, much of the power was derived from Saratoga Creek. A large resort was constructed at Pacific Congress Springs, , which burned down in 1903. More history can be found here.

Today, Saratoga is one of the upscale communities in Silicon Valley, with its small town feel of tony boutiques, little shops and high-end restaurants. In it’s short downtown of about 5 blocks it is, in my opinion, the highest concentration of the best rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. The winding roads in the surrounding hills reveal estates with personal vineyards, horse stables, and other indications of affluence.

Riding through Saratoga on my Harley-Davidson Road King every few months into the Santa Cruz Mountains, I always love to see Saratoga Creek as it runs year round…even through all the recent droughts.

It would have been nice to paint the Congress Springs area, but it is now grown over, and access is limited. (Based on my observations from the road, with it’s chain link fence, it is probably used as a water source for Saratoga.) I painted Saratoga Creek downstream from there as it flows through Wildwood Park in the middle of town.

Below is the finished piece, an intimate scene of Saratoga Creek—

The Tollgate, 8x10, oil on board
The Tollgate, 8×10, oil on board

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