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The Amador-Livermore Valley was first sighted by a Spanish soldier, Captain Pedro Fages, in 1772 while on an expedition searching for new mission sites. It was a half-century after this discovery that Jose Amador, in 1826, brought the first settlement to the valley that still bears his name. Spanish families were awarded huge tracts of land as a result of the abandonment of the California Mission System.

Alisal, as Pleasanton was known at the time, was located on one of the main routes to the gold fields and quickly became a mercantile stopover for miners seeking their fortune in the Mother Lode. The first white settler in the immediate area of Pleasanton was Augustine Bernal in 1850. The adobe house he built on Foothill Road is still standing today.

John W. Kottinger, who arrived in 1851, was responsible for the naming of Pleasanton after a distinguished Civil War general, Alfred Pleasonton. However, a spelling error by a recording clerk in Washington, D.C. resulted in a much more appropriate name. When the transcontinental railroads rolled into Pleasanton in 1869, the town was assured of a future.

Ranchers and thoroughbred horse breeders were attracted to the favorable climate and abundance of water, and were soon followed by dairy farms, hop fields and vineyards. Blessed with rich soil, Pleasanton soon became the agricultural center for the Amador Valley and home to the oldest horseracing track in the nation. The hops grown here were sought by many of the largest beer producers in the U.S. and Europe, making Pleasanton internationally famous.

Pleasanton was incorporated in 1894 and by 1900 was a thriving community complete with the Bank of Pleasanton, the Pleasanton Hop Company, the Ruby Hill vineyard and three fancy hotels.

By 1930, enterprising men such as Henry J. Kaiser determined the great potential of sand and gravel below the Valley’s surface. It was 1982 that brought one of the most dramatic turning points in the city’s history. That year, ground was broken on the first building in the 850-acre Hacienda Business Park.

In 1994 Pleasanton celebrated its 100th anniversary as a city. Residents and visitors alike looked back on a century of extraordinary progress. A community that began as a simple home to Ohlone Indians, Pleasanton has passed through seasons as an adobe homestead for Spanish soldiers, an agricultural center, a small bedroom community and finally, what it is today – a thriving city with excellent schools, a strong economic base and well-planned neighborhoods.

A tour through the Museum on Main Street will introduce you to pages from the valley’s past. The museum offers a monthly lecture series, interesting local history and several rotating exhibits. One may visit the extensive photo and local manuscript collection by appointment. The gallery often features a variety of local artists. The museum has an enjoyable volunteer program and attracts visitors, students and local residents all year round. Located at 603 Main Street in the old Town Hall building, the hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11 to 4 and Sundays from 1 to 4. The museum is closed on major holidays. For info, visit or call (925) 462-2766.

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