Free Lecture on the Transcontinental Railroad and the Chinese Exclusion Act
Noted Author and Historian Connie Young Yu will give a presentation on the “Transcontinental Railroad and the Chinese Exclusion Act” on October 1 at 1:00 PM at the Saratoga History Museum. The talk is part of the Mid-Autumn Festival produced by the Organization of Chinese American Women, Silicon Valley Chapter (OCAUW) at the Museum. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Chinese laborers built the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, yet their contribution to this great American infrastructure was ignored. The anti-Chinese movement of the 1870's led to the enactment of America's first immigration legislation, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This federal law not only restricted Chinese immigration, it barred Chinese from naturalization as U.S. citizens. It excluded Chinese from American society and erased Chinese contributions from the nation's historical narrative. This act was repealed in 1943 during WWII, but its ramifications impacted all of America. Yu will talk about how Chinese survived after building the railroad, and how fighting for their rights set legal precedents that resonate today.

About Connie Young Yu: Connie Young Yu is an author and historian, and descendant of a foreman on the Central Pacific. She is board member emeritus of the Chinese Historical Society of America, and is conducting oral history interviews for the Stanford Chinese Railroad Workers of North America Project. The Saratoga History museum is located at 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga.

Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration on October 1
The Mid-Autumn Festival will include a special lecture by Author Connie Young Yu, live entertainment, Chinese arts and crafts, music and more on October 1 from 1:00-4 PM at the Saratoga History Museum. The festival is free and produced by the Organization of Chinese American University Women, Silicon Valley Chapter. The event takes place at the Saratoga History museum at 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga, CA.

Come Celebrate the India Showcase on October 8!
For the third year, the Saratoga Historical Foundation is hosting the India Showcase at the Saratoga History Museum.

The event will take place October 8 from 1-4 PM and is free to the public. The event will include Asian Indian arts and crafts, food, dance demonstration, music, and more.

The event will include classical folk, Bollywood and other dances by five groups: Shilpa Padwekar, Saratoga High School Bollywood dance group, Sanjana Melkote, Saratoga adult dance group, and Nirmal Gosavi and Arat Dance Group will also perform. Bela Desai will sing traditional songs. Mona Vijaykar, author and creator of India in Classrooms, will read a short story on Indian festivals. An arts and craft table will keep children busy.

The Saratoga History Museum is located at 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga, CA. Go up to or call 408-867-4311 for more information.

Free Film on President Theodore Roosevelt
Join us for a free viewing of the film “The Indomitable Theodore Roosevelt” on Tuesday September 12 at 7:30 PM at the Saratoga History Museum (20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga). The event will be hosted by Ray Cosyn, Director of the Saratoga Historical Foundation.

Roosevelt was an author, explorer, soldier, naturalist as well as the 26th President of the United States. He authored over 26 books, initiated the First US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment known as the Rough Riders, is one of four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore, won the Nobel Prize for Peace for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War and secured the route and began construction of the Panama Canal.

Free Film on John Philip Sousa-- March King
Enjoy a free viewing of “If You Knew Sousa” and delight in the marching music of John Philip Sousa on Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 at the Saratoga History Museum (20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga). The event will be hosted by Ray Cosyn, Director of the Saratoga Historical Foundation.

John Philip Sousa is known as the “March King” for his work. His best known marches are The Stars and Stripes Forever; Semper Fidelis, the official march of the US Marine Corp; and Liberty Bell to mention a few. Sousa also invented the sousaphone, a large brass instrument similar to a tuba. Find out more about this talented musician.

New Exhibit—Casa Tierra, House of Earth Opens July 28
Casa Tierra, House of Earth—a new exhibit opens July 28 at the Saratoga History Museum. The Saratoga house is 13000 square feet and is the largest non-secular adobe house in North America. The unique house was built from handmade bricks from the earth it stands on by two women in 1941. The exhibit will run from July 28-November 12.

The house is located on Quito Road and is listed on Saratoga’s heritage resource inventory.

Maude Meagher, 46 and Carolyn Smiley, 51 came to Saratoga in 1941 seeking a new home to live in and a place to publish their children’s magazine World Youth. They had successfully launched and published the magazine in 1936 in Boston for five years and decided to move west.

They liked the land they saw in Saratoga and purchased two acres on Quito Road. At that time the land was surrounded by orchards. Using string and stakes made from a crate of oranges they plotted the house they wanted to build. The earth was bulldozed and soon earth mixed with straw, water and oil in a mixing machine made from an old Studebaker stripped of parts and began to make bricks. The earth was hand shaped into bricks 18x12x4 and weighed approximately 75 pounds! It took five years to complete the house. Two local men helped lay the foundation for the home.

The over 800 windows provide natural light for the house. Because of the number and irregular size of the windows, the women chose discontinued plate glass windshields from a junkyard. Using a glass cutter, they hand cut the glass needed for the windows.

Over 23,000 handmade roof tiles were used to cover Casa Tierra. These tiles were the last of the replacement tiles used on California’s Spanish missions. The replacement tiles are almost identical to those original tiles made by the Native Americans. Under direction of the Spanish builders, Native American women would form the original mission tiles on their thighs. This gave the tiles a shape of wide at one end and narrow on the other.

The Saratoga History Museum is located at 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga. The museum is open from 1-4 PM Friday and Sunday and from 10-4 PM on Saturday. Admittance is free.

The Saratoga Historical Foundation Museum
The Saratoga Historical Foundation Museum located at Saratoga Historical Park: 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, Saratoga, CA
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  • 2017 Upcoming Events
  • Sept 12 Free Film on President Theodore Roosevelt; 7:30pm
  • Oct 1 Free Lecture on the Transcontinental Railroad and the Chinese Exclusion Act
  • Oct 1 Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration
  • Oct 8 Come Celebrate the India Showcase
  • Oct 12 Free Film on John Philip Sousa-- March King; 7:30pm

Tell Us About Your Saratoga!
The Saratoga Historical Foundation collects memories and information about Saratoga places, people and more. Please complete the form HERE and help us add to our records! Thank you.

Some Free Things To Do!
Get in touch with local history by taking our historic landmark walking tour, bicycling the historic house tour, and walking around our historic garden with a self-guided tour.

Get out your camera and your walking shoes! The Saratoga Historical Foundation offers docent-led walking tours or you can download the tour and take a self-guided one. The docent-led tours last about 60 minutes with lots of easy walking. Meet your fellow “time travellers” and get some exercise at the same time. Make an appointment today by calling 408-867-4311 and take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the history of your community.

Forget about driving and bicycle our historic house tour. See over 30 heritage homes on this self-guided bicycle tour. Want just a little exercise? Walk the historic garden in the Saratoga Historical Park—a copy of the self-guided tour is available outside near the Museum door or by downloading. The plants look different with each season so there is reason to return again and again. Find out how Native American children used ferns.

The walking tour, historic house bicycle tour, and the garden tour maps can be downloaded from this site.

Speaker Available
If you are in need of a speaker on history and local Saratoga history—contact Saratoga Historical Foundation Historian Ray Cosyn. Cosyn has developed the following presentations—most 30-40 minutes in length with quality slides using historic images:

  • Saratoga: A Lumber Town, traces the history of Saratoga from the Ohlone’s to the present historic village. The excitement of the once rollicking lumber town to the battle for incorporation is of interest to every Saratogan.
  • The Interurban Railway, yearn for the days of a trip by rail to San Jose or Palo Alto on the sleek Interurban Railway? The mass transit train, carrying packages and people, once quietly traveled the Santa Clara Valley.
  • Prohibition—sit back and enjoy hearing about the driest town in the valley – a period of time that lasted over 40 years. Interesting stories about the effect of Prohibition on the local wineries (including Paul Masson) will make you smile.
  • Lincoln’s Funeral Train- miracles and sadness traveled with the death of Present Abraham Lincoln as his funeral train made it’s last journey.
  • Flying Tigers – find out more about these intrepid Americans who fought an air war prior to WWII for freedom in China.
The presentations are appropriate for groups of all ages. Cosyn has given presentations to those interested in the Civil War, railroads, winemakers, high schools, as well as local history and other organizations. If you are interested in having Cosyn speak before your organization, you can contact him HERE. More information on lectures HERE.

Plans for a New Blacksmith Exhibit
The recorded sounds of a blacksmith forge might ring in the hills as the Saratoga Historical Foundation raises funds to convert an existing outside area into an interactive blacksmith exhibit. The blacksmith exhibit ties into the nearby 1850’s McWilliams House because the owner, James McWilliams was Saratoga’s second blacksmith.

The blacksmith exhibit will house tools and items normally worked on by a blacksmith. Some interactivity and possibly sound effects will be available. Also planned is a nonfunctional outhouse—as part of the turn of the century theme of all the structures in the Saratoga Historical Park. All the structures—McWilliams House, one-room schoolhouse, museum, and soon the blacksmith exhibit are used to teach pioneer living as well as Saratoga’s rich history.

If you would like to contribute to this exhibit ($5000 contribution and higher will be part of a plaque on the outside of the exhibit), please send your contribution to: Blacksmith Exhibit, c/o Saratoga Historical Foundation, PO Box 172, Saratoga, CA 95071. Your donation is tax deductible.

Support the Saratoga Historical Foundation with AmazonSmile

The Saratoga Historical Foundation is now on the AmazonSmile list. Visit when you want to purchase an item and select the Saratoga Historical Foundation, by doing so, .5% of your purchase will be donated to the Saratoga Historical Foundation. No extra cost to you-- it is part of a program initiated by Amazon to give back to the community.

New Public Art for Saratoga Honoring Betty and Willys Peck
How does a city honor citizens who have been critical to the evolution and character of the city?? One way is by works of art. Saratoga’s well- known historian Willys Peck, now deceased, and his legendary teacher-author wife, Betty are such people.

The Saratoga Historical Foundation is sponsoring the creation of life-size bronze figures of Willys and Betty Peck sitting on their famous “Count Your Blessings” bench, with room for people to sit next to them. Noted sculptor Jerry Smith has agreed to render the statues using the “lost wax” process. Smith has created many sculptures including a bronze work for the Saratoga Foothill Club, Bellarmine College, Santa Clara University and more.

No public money is being sought for the project, instead it will be financed by private donations. Willys and Betty Peck have both contributed much to the community. Willys Peck a historian, lawyer, newspaperman, train buff and playwright died in 2013. Peck worked for the Mercury News for a total of 55 years. The lifelong resident of Saratoga documented his memories of Saratoga in several books and worked to preserve Saratoga’s rich history. Betty Peck, known as an innovative educator has spent over 55 years in early education. She created the first community garden in Saratoga. She is also an author of two books on early education.

Placement of the final work will be determined later, but two locations are currently being considered: Blaney Plaza facing Willys and Betty’s beloved town; the front area of the Saratoga History Museum. A committee, chaired by Hugh Roberts, has been formed to raise the funds. “The idea of creating the city of Saratoga originated in the Peck’s garden with a group of like-minded individuals, and the Pecks have always embodied the heart and spirit of Saratoga,” Roberts said.

The goal is to raise $70,000, half right away to get the project underway in order to have it completed within one year. Names of all contributors will be on a scroll given to Betty Peck. Contributions over $250 will receive a copy of Willys’ book, Saratoga Stereopticon, autographed by Betty Peck in appreciation. All contributions should be sent to the Saratoga Historical Foundation, PO Box 172 Saratoga CA 95071 noting ATTN Peck Bench. Tax deductible confirmation will be provided. More information can be found by e-mailing or contacting Hugh Roberts at:

Community Service
Saratoga High School students looking to fulfill community service requirements can contact Linda Hagelin at the Saratoga History Museum. Please e-mail HERE with the date you can work. The museum is open Friday-Saturday and Sunday from 1-4PM.

Saratoga Historical Foundation  ·  20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, Saratoga, CA 95070-5935  ·  #408.867.4311