Morgan Territory

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Morgan Territory is a regional preserve in California established in the late 20th century on the east side of Mount Diablo in the San Francisco East Bay's Contra Costa County. The acquisition and expansion of this territory has preserved important habitat and watersheds in the area for the public. Now an estimated 5,000 acres (20 km²), its creation has been a collaboration by public and private parties. It has been connected to Mount Diablo State Park by acquisition and transfer of properties between them.

The area is named for early European-American settler Jeremiah Morgan, who claimed land there in 1856 and ultimately acquired 2,000 acres. For a time, the area was used for ranching.

Here is the Morgan Territory Entrance

Description of Morgan Territory Regional Preserve[edit]

Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, and the surrounding region are named for pioneer settler Jeremiah Morgan. Established in 1976, the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) preserve's nearly 5,000 acres (20 km²) are an important wildlife and recreational corridor. It ranges east from Riggs Canyon and Mount Diablo State Park to the Contra Costa Water District's Los Vaqueros watershed and EBRPD's Round Valley Preserve. The original preserve was located on Morgan Territory Ridge, east of Morgan Territory Road, and included the headwaters of Marsh Creek. In the late 1980s, it was expanded across the parallel Highland Ridge west of the road and into Riggs Canyon.[citation needed]

Morgan Territory's sandstone hills include the headwaters of Marsh and Tassajara creeks, and feature more than ninety species of wildflowers, including the Diablo sunflower and Diablo manzanita. Mountain lion and golden eagles are found here. There are expansive views to Mt. Diablo and Mount St. Helena to the north, and the Sierra Nevada range to the east.[citation needed]

Preserve trails are named for Native American peoples, such as the Volvon (one of five Native American nations in the Diablo area who spoke dialects of the Bay Miwok language); animals such as condor (molluk), prairie falcon, eagle and coyote; and for natural features of the preserve's ranching history (Valley View, Blue Oak, and Highland Ridge).

History of creation of the preserve[edit]

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Manfred "Manny" Lindner of the Contra Costa Park Council helped lead efforts to establish a new preserve in Morgan Territory. He built a large, three-dimensional model of the main ridge and headwaters of Marsh Creek, which were the most prized areas. Hulet Hornbeck, Chief of Acquisitions for the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), collaborated with Lindner to persuade the District Board of Directors to create the Preserve. But residents of the area had demonstrated little public interest or need of such a plan. The population of the nearby Tri-Valley increased dramatically later, and expansion of technology firms in the Silicon Valley raised land prices throughout the area.[citation needed]

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bob Walker (1952-1992), environmentalist and photographer, a president of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, led the dramatic expansion of the preserve from 970 acres (3.9 km²) to more than 5,000 acres (20 km²). Walker was active as a member of the Board of Directors of the non-profit Save Mount Diablo. In this same period, the Mount Diablo State Park was expanded to the east to join with the Preserve in Riggs Canyon.[citation needed]

Serving with Walker was Robert Doyle, president of Save Mount Diablo. He had succeeded Hornbeck as Assistant General Manager and Chief of Acquisitions for the East Bay Regional Park District. Doyle and Walker strategized about developing public support to expand the Preserve from its original 970 acres (3.9 km²). In 1987 the square-mile Marshall property was acquired and added to the Preserve. Seth Adams, staff for Save Mount Diablo, aided Walker and Doyle as SMD worked to expand the nearby Mt. Diablo State Park with its Morgan Ranch acquisition.[citation needed]

The connection between the two parks was marked by SMD's acquiring the 631-acre (2.6 km²) Morgan Ranch. In 1994 the state created the 30-mile (48 km) Diablo Trail, which runs across six parks from Walnut Creek to Brentwood. In quick succession large square mile sections were added to the Preserve even as the 19,000-acre (77 km²) Los Vaqueros watershed was preserved to the east. Round Valley, threatened by Contra Costa County landfill proposals, was designated as another adjoining Regional Preserve.[citation needed]

Activist Bob Walker died in 1992, but before then he was honored by the naming of the Bob Walker Ridge (a section of Morgan Territory Ridge) and of the Bob Walker Regional Trail (overlaying sections of the Highland Ridge and Diablo Trails.)[citation needed] Walker's collection of more than 30,000 photographic slides, primarily of the East Bay, were transferred to the Natural History Section of the Oakland Museum. This is also known as the Museum of California.[citation needed]

Morgan Ranch[edit]

Save Mount Diablo bought the 631-acre (2.6 km²) Morgan Ranch from Willard "Bill" & Naomi Morgan in 1989, and transferred it to Mt. Diablo State Park. This was the first and corner connection to Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. Bill Morgan is a great-grandson of Jeremiah Morgan. The Morgan Ranch extends from Marsh Creek over Highland Ridge, and descends west to Tassajara Creek in Riggs Canyon.

Morgan Red Corral[edit]

In 2004 Save Mount Diablo acquired the "Morgan Red Corral" and donated it to the state park. Located across Morgan Territory Road from the Morgan Ranch, it now serves as a staging area for this easternmost part of the State Park.

Also in 2004 Save Mount Diablo honored Jeremiah Morgan with a historic monument at its Morgan Red Corral property on Morgan Territory Road.

Morgan Backpack Camp[edit]

The Morgan Backpack Camp (Morgan Territory Regional Preserve) was constructed in 2001 on the Highland Ridge Trail, a section of the Diablo Trail, at the former Cardoza homesite.

Morgan Sulfur Spring[edit]

Morgan Sulfur Spring is in lower Curry Canyon, Morgan Territory. It is located in lower Sulfur Spring Canyon, and drains from Windy Point to Curry Creek. It may have been named by Mary Bowerman, who designated it as "Morgan Sulphur Spring".[citation needed]


  • Diablo Watch, (1989-2005), the newsletter of Save Mount Diablo.
  • East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD),
  • History of the Sierra Club-Bay Chapter, Sierra Club-San Francisco Bay Chapter, for the Bay Chapter 75th Anniversary, Sierra Club Bay Chapter website, 2001; Bay Chapter History Committee, Berkeley, CA. (research largely by Pam Challinor, and in 1983 by Esther Baginsky.)
  • Homan, Anne M., The Morning Side Of Mount Diablo; an illustrated account of the San Francisco Bay Area’s historic Morgan Territory Road, Walnut Creek, CA, Hardscratch Press, 2001
  • Hulaniski, Frederick J., ed. The History of Contra Costa County, California. Berkeley: The Elms Publishing Company, 1917
  • Munro-Fraser, J.P., History of Contra Costa County California, San Francisco, CA: Slocum, W.A. & Co., 1882/ republished Oakland, CA: Brooks-Sterling Company, 1974; (author variously reported as Slocum, Munro, or Munro-Fraser)
  • Purcell, Mae Fisher, History of Contra Costa County, Gillick Press, Berkeley, California, 1940
  • Stein, Mimi, A Vision Achieved: Fifty Years of East Bay Regional Park District, California: East Bay Regional Park District, 1984

External links[edit]