Vista Verde Community Association

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VV History

Vista Verde is a residential community nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains of San Mateo County, 50 miles south of San Francisco and six miles from Stanford University. Situated above the Town of Portola Valley at an average elevation of 1500 feet, it overlooks San Francisco Bay and is surrounded by thousands of wooded acres of permanent open space, yet is only 10 minutes from Interstate 280. The 105 "rural estates" are favored by a microclimate ranked among the best in the world.

Before California was a state, Spanish colonists traversed through Vista Verde along the "Old Spanish Trail" to bring goods over the coastal mountains from Pescadero to what is now Palo Alto on San Francisco Bay. Vista Verde was developed in the early sixties on the site of a 453 acre vacation ranch owned by "Sunny Jim" Rolph, who was mayor of San Francisco in 1912 and governor of California in 1931. Early radio buffs will be interested to know that this same coastal mountain area was the inspiration for the "Sky Ranch", the fictional home of the Barbour family in the 1932-1959 famed radio series, "One Man's Family" written by its Peninsula creator, Carlton E. Morse.

Richard and Yvonne Tryce were among the first residents of Vista Verde, and here they share their first-person historical account of our community

A HISTORY OF VISTA VERDE

By Yvonne Tryce © 2002 by R. & Y. Tryce

FINDING A HOME IN THE HILLS: EXPLORING WITH JACK SIMONIC

We started our search by looking on a contour map. My husband, Richard Tryce, is a ham radio operator and wanted a home with a good radio location. The spot we found was a fourteen hundred foot knoll labeled Rattlesnake Hill. I had a college friend, Peggy Dickinson, and had visited her home on Lake Road. I knew they were planning to build a home toward the hill, and so I called her. She said their place would be down on Old Spanish Trail, but that she knew who owned the hill.

Written by Sheldon Breiner
Portola Valley, CA
January 23, 2008
(revised from its original written in 1996 to benefit the renovation of the historic Old School House)

Our Town is fascinating, full of nooks and crannies. And big. To get around and see everything it helps to be able to run intrepidly along trails, through the brush and up and down hills. That way one can see a lot, explore its history and get there before time - and man - erases the evidence.

For more than five decades, I've been a resident of this place or an adventurous student down the road at 'The Farm.' For much of this time I have managed to search this vast environment and satisfy my half-vast curiosity by using half-fast running as a vehicle. It is indeed possible to run for exercise and still stop to smell the flowers and see the sights. In Portola Valley, there are lots of both and all it takes is a curious mind and a good pair of legs.

The following legends are contributed by Richard Tryce.

The Lost Miners of Coal Mine Ridge

The historical records of Portola Valley confirm that the original Indian inhabitants of the Peninsula believed there were ghostly spirits in the mountains. This area has a mystical history and heritage. And so it was after the earthquake of 1906. The earth fell in on the coal mine on Coal Mine Ridge. Waters covered what was the mine. The resulting lake is West of the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Vista Verde Way. And for children and adults with open minds and spirit, the plaintive call of the trapped miners can be heard carried in the soft winds of October. Be still, listen hard, and don't be afraid.