Next Meeting: Thursday May 18, 2023

Grain Trade Enriches Valley Ranchers

During the late 1800’s San Ramon Valley ranchers planted thousands of acres of winter barley and wheat.  The sales of the crops provided wealth to the ranchers that to this day undergirds our economy.  Lacking underground aquifers, lakes or rivers, ranchers planted in the late fall and harvested in early summer.  Winter rains watered the fields.  Marketing their crops was a major challenge.  The primary market was England, driven by its manufacturing industries but unable to feed its burgeoning population unless it imported food.  All the family ranchers in the Valley grew grain for the exchange.  A  lively trade ensued with ships transporting welcomed goods to America and returning to England loaded with vital grain.  Ports along the Sacramento River near Martinez hosted the grain trade ships. One of the grain trade ships was San Francisco’s Maritime Museum ship, the Balclutha.

On May 18, 2023, National Park Service Ranger (NPS), Chris Edwards will share the little-known grain trade story at the San Ramon Valley Historical Society dinner meeting.  He unearthed an in-depth treatise in NPS files that fills in lots of gaps in our understanding of this important era in Contra Costa history. Expand your awareness of our history and join us.

The San Ramon Valley Historical Society meets at 7 pm on the third Thursday of the months of January, March, May, September, and November, at the Black Bear Diner in Danville.  Dinner and program tickets are $25.00 per person.

Reservations are encouraged so the restaurant knows how many guests to prepare to serve. Please return your reservation slip in advance, or email us at:


A resource for our shared local history, participating in identification, commemoration, and preservation