About Morgan Hill, California
Morgan Hill is a city in Santa Clara County, California, at the Southern tip of Silicon Valley. Originally a community of ranches and orchards, Morgan Hill is now a bedroom community for the high tech industries in Silicon Valley, as well as the seat for several high tech companies.
Morgan Hill is named after an early landowner, Hiram Morgan Hill. The name is often erroneously thought to be the name of the prominent hill on the west side of the valley, which is actually named El Toro. Prior to the city's founding, the area was known as Rancho Ojo del Agua de la Coche, during the time when the Murphy family owned all the land in the area. When the land came in to Hiram Morgan Hill's possession, it became known as "Morgan Hill's Ranch", which was eventually shortened to "Morgan Hill".
Prior to the arrival of Spanish colonists, the area of the Santa Clara Valley had been inhabited by the Ohlone people, for more than 6,000 years. In the area of what is now Morgan Hill, a sub-sect of the Ohlone, called the Matalan Tribe, lived in a hunter-gatherer society.
Spanish colonial governance, under the Alta California province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, was established over the Morgan Hill area in 1778, when a land grant encompassing the Morgan Hill area and surrounding areas was authorized by the Spanish colonial government. Previous to official colonization, the 1772 Spanish expedition, led by Pedro Fages, Military Lt. Governor of Alta California and Father Juan Crespí, camped in what is now Morgan Hill, at a part of Llagas Creek. The location of their camp subsequently became a popular campsite for Spanish soldiers on their way from New Spain to Alta California. With the founding of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, in 1777, the lands of present-day Morgan Hill were granted to the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1821, the Morgan Hill area became part of the First Mexican Empire, when Mexico declared its independence from Spain. With the transfer of sovereignty, the new Mexican re-appropriated all royal and church lands, for the next two decades following independence, to Mexican citizens, and the land encompassing modern-day Morgan Hill was granted to Juan Maria Hernandez, in 1835.In 1845, Martin Murphy, Sr., an Irish-born American pioneer man, acquired the Morgan Hill and surrounding area and named it Rancho Ojo del Agua de la Coche.
In 1846, the area of Morgan Hill became a part of the independent California Republic and subsequently a part of the United States, under the State of California. In 1850, Martin Murphy, Sr.'s youngest son, Daniel Murphy, married Maria Fisher, heiress of the neighboring 19,000-acre (7,700 ha) Rancho Laguna Seca, thus combining the two estates. In 1853, Martin Murphy, Sr.'s father, Bernard Murphy, died leaving the majority of the estate to Martin Murphy, Sr., but a substantial portion to a Martin Murphy, Sr.'s mother, Catherine, who then married James Dunne. By 1870, the Murphy family had acquired around 70,000 acres (28,000 ha) of the Morgan Hill and surrounding area. In the history of Morgan Hill, the Murphy, Dunne, and Hill families are of the most prominent significance.
In 1882, Daniel and Maria Murphy's favorite daughter, Diana Murphy, fell in love with Missouri businessman Hiram Morgan Hill. They married in secret, on account of his being a Quaker and her being from a prominent Roman Catholic family. When Daniel Murphy died, Diana and Hiram Morgan Hill inherited the 4,500 acres (1,800 ha) surrounding the original Murphy estate, near Murphy's Peak (now known as El Toro). In 1884, the Hills built their weekend estate, as the family primarily lived in San Francisco and in Nevada, dubbed Villa Mira-Monte (Italian for Mountain-View Estate).
By 1886, the family chose to live primarily at the Ojo del Agua estate, as they jointly inherited 22,000 acres (8,900 ha) around the estate. However, the move was temporary, as scandal caused by the marital complications of Hiram Morgan Hill's sister, Sarah Althea Hill, and her husband, Senator William Sharon, made the Hills a source of social ridicule, thus causing them to start spending the majority of their time between San Francisco and Washington, D.C., thus leaving their Ojo del Agua estate untouched for long periods of time.
In 1892, Hiram Morgan Hill contracted land developer C. H. Phillips to divide and liquidate the Ojo del Agua estate, only retaining the Villa Mira Monte estate and the surrounding 200 acres (81 ha), which the Hill family would hold until 1916. By 1898, a significant community had built around what was then known as Morgan Hill's Ranch, and a Southern Pacific Railroadstation was built in the Huntington area. Rather than ask to stop at Huntington station, passengers would ask to stop at "Morgan Hill's Ranch", which eventually shortened to "Morgan Hill".
On November 10, 1906, the planned community, a result of the divisions of C. H. Phillips, was incorporated as the Town of Morgan Hill. Hiram Morgan and Diana Hill's only child, Diana Murphy Hill, married the French nobleman, Baron Hadouin de Reinach-Werth, and thus Baron Hadouin started to help manage Hiram Morgan Hill's properties between California and Nevada. However, the baron was called back to France to serve in the military and never returned. In 1913, Hiram Morgan Hill died at his Elko estate in Nevada, thus leaving his properties to his daughter. Diana Murphy Hill later remarried, in 1916, to Sir George Rhodes, thus causing the Murphy heiress of the Morgan Hill estate to relocate to the United Kingdom, taking her and Hiram Morgan Hill's daughter, Diana Murphy Hill, thus finally selling off the Villa Mira Monte and ending the Hill family presence in the community named after them.
Morgan Hill is approximately 39 km (24 mi) south of downtown San Jose, 21 km (13 mi) north of Gilroy, and 24 km (15 mi) inland from the Pacific coast. Lying in a roughly 6 km-wide (4-mi-wide) southern extension of the Santa Clara Valley, it is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and the Diablo Range to the east. At the valley floor, Morgan Hill lies at an elevation of about 107 m (350 ft)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city encompasses an area of 12.9 square miles (33 km2), all land. Although there are no natural lakes or ponds within the city limits, there are several flood-control and water storage reservoirs in the adjacent hills which are operated by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, with recreational activities such as boating, etc., administered by the Santa Clara County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Morgan Hill is located within the seismically active San Francisco Bay region. The significant earthquakes in the region are generally associated with crustal movements along well-defined, active fault zones. The nearest known active faults are the San Andreas Fault, approximately 19 km (12 mi) southwest, and the Calaveras Fault, approximately 1.6 km (0.99 mi) northeast. Both faults have produced major earthquakes in the past, and have estimated maximum credible Richter magnitudes of 8.3 and 7.3 respectively.
The Sargent-Berrocal Fault, a potentially active fault, lies 16 km (9.9 mi) away from the sites and has an estimated maximum credible Richter magnitude of 7.4. The Coyote Creek Fault is located in Morgan Hill and is classified as potentially active as well. In addition, several unnamed faults traverse the western slopes of the upland areas. Geomorphic evidence suggests that these faults were active during recent geologic time. However, these fault-related geomorphic features are not as fresh as those of the active Calaveras Fault and are considered to be somewhat older.
Morgan Hill is one of very few sources for a type of semi-precious gemstone marketed under the name "Morgan Hill poppy jasper". According to geologists, this local variety of orbicular jasper formed through a combination of volcanic and seismic activity on the slopes of El Toro. Known extant deposits of the mineral are located on private lands, not accessible to the public. A local business, El Toro Brewing Company, has a collection of poppy jasper on display at their rural Morgan Hill brewery and on a large bar top inlaid with the stone at their brewpub in downtown Morgan Hill. Examples are also on display at the Morgan Hill Museum and at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center. The local Poppy Jasper Film Festival is also named after the mineral.
The highlight of local geography is El Toro. According to a local legend of the early 1900s, author Bret Harte named the hill when he climbed it and discovered two bulls fighting near the summit (they subsequently chased him back down). The official name shown on the U.S. Geological Survey's maps is simply "El Toro", although locals may refer to the hill as "Murphy's Peak". Visitors, not aware of the origin of the town's name, often mistakenly assume that El Toro is "Morgan" Hill. The iconic hill overshadowing the town to the west, has been incorporated into the city's seal and official logo.
Due to the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean, Morgan Hill enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate. Temperatures range from an average midsummer maximum of 32.3°C (90.2°F) to an average midwinter low of 0.9 °C (33.6 °F). Average annual precipitation is 480 mm (18.9 in), and the summer months are typically dry. Snowfall is rare, about once every 20 years, and is light and short-lived when it occurs. Summer months are characterized by coastal fog which arrives from the ocean around 10 p.m. and dissipates the next morning by 10 a.m. Winter months have many sunny and partly cloudy days, with frequent breaks between rainstorms. The local terrain is inconducive to tornadoes, severe windstorms and thunderstorms. The local climate supports chaparral and grasslandbiomes, with stands of live oak at higher elevations.