History of the Canyon (presentation)

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Historical Resources

  • Niles Canyon Railway (NCRY) now runs vintage steam and diesel trains on the original transcontinental railroad bed
  • The Essanay studio in Niles filmed in many locations throughout the canyon between 1912 and 1916
  • California Brick Company
  • Spring Valley Water Company was the first water company in the area
  • Brightside and Farwell picnic areas were train stops in the canyon
  • THE SPOT night club and meeting place
  • Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza and his small expeditionary force crossed Alameda Creek at the mouth of the canyon on March 31, 1776.
  • The mouth of the canyon was also the location of the first grist mill in the area and used water from Alameda Creek to turn the grinding stone.


  • Essanay Film Company posse riding through the canyon (1)
  • Closing scene of The Tramp with Charlie Chaplin, 1915 (2)
  • Outlaw’s Awakening with Broncho Billy Anderson, 1915 (3)
  • Essanay stagecoach on Niles Canyon Road in Broncho Billy’s Squareness, 1915 (4)
  • Broncho Billy’s Narrow Escape, 1912 (5)
  • The Convict’s Threat, 1915 (6)
  • The Claim Jumpers, 1915


  • Entire length of Niles Canyon has historic resources
  • Niles Canyon has been a destination for over 100 years
  • The current HWY 84 project will severely adversely affect the ability of the Niles/Sunol corridor to be a destination area and have a negative effect on the local economies

For further information and lots of great photographs, see the following books

  • Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company by David Kiehn, Farwell Books
  • Niles, Fremont by Phil Holmes and Jill Singleton, Arcadia Press
  • Niles Canyon Railway by Henry Luna, Arcadia Press

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