What Do You Know About Sunol, CA?

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Sunol, California Quiz


Q – Where is Sunol located?

A – It is in Alameda County between the south San Francisco Bay and the Livermore Valley.


Q – How big is Sunol?

A – The total land area encompasses 86 square miles – about the same size as the city of San Francisco.


Q – How many people live in Sunol?

A – It is a rural community of 900 to 1200 people


Q – Who were the first occupants of Sunol?

A – It was originally settled by the Ohlone tribe about 5000 years ago. The Ohlone lived in small villages with well-defined territorial boundaries.


Q – How did Sunol get its name?

A – In the mid 1800’s, Antonio Maria Sunol and Maria Bernal Sunol gained ownership of 14,000 acres of Rancho El Valle de San Jose. One of their sons (also with the name Antonio Maria Sunol) build a complex of ranching support buildings near the present-day Sunol Water Temple. A larger community was created as disappointed gold miners settled as farmers.


Q – What technology spurred the grow of Sunol in the late 1800’s?

A – Trains came through Sunol and Niles Canyon since it was the easiest way enter and leave San Jose. The ready access to Sunol by the railroads helped develop Sunol as a vacation area for city dwellers.


Q – What happened to the train system through Sunol?

A – The Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads had separate tracks through Sunol until 1984 when the Southern Pacific right-of-way was abandoned. In 1987, the Pacific Locomotive Association gain access to the Southern Pacific right-of-way and relaid the tracks between Sunol and Niles. They now offer scenic steam train rides down Niles Canyon.


Q – What is the Sunol “water temple” and what is its significance?

A – In 1906, William  Bourn, a major stockholder in the Spring Valley Water Company, and owner of the Empire Gold Mine, hired Willis Polk to design a “water temple” at Sunol where people could celebrate the “meeting of the waters.”


Q – What building serves as the community center of Sunol?

A – The Sunol Glen School, built in 1925, has about 250 students in kindergarten through eighth grades. The school has always acted as a community center – the auditorium still contains a metal lined movie projection loft designed during the era of carbon-arc projectors.


Q – Who was probably the most famous resident of Sunol?

A – Bosco Ramos


Q – Who was Bosco Ramos and why is he famous?

A – He was a dog who became mayor. He was the town mascot who hung out in front of the local bar, mooching treats from friends and visitors.


Q – How did Bosco become mayor of Sunol?

A – In 1981, in an election hatched by locals as a joke, Bosco Ramos ran against two human candidates for the mayoral slot, and beat both. He became known as America’s first dog mayor. He led the annual Halloween parade, and could often be seen at Sunol events and social gatherings in his formal tuxedo.


Q – How did Bosco become internationally famous?

A – In 1989, a Chinese Communist newspaper, the Peoples Daily, proclaimed his election was proof that democratic elections don’t work. In the wake of Tianamen Square, Bosco was an invited, high profile participant in a 30-hour pro-democracy rally in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. He was “a symbol of democracy and freedom,” said Sunol resident Solveig Shearer.


Q – What happened to Bosco?

A – He died in 1994 peacefully in his sleep. A bronze Dog Mayor statue was unveiled on December 19, 2008 next to the Sunol post office.


Q – Where can I find more information about Sunol?

A – Look-up the book, “A Place Called Sunol” by Connie and Allen DeGrange.

Sunol Book






For information on buying or selling a home in Sunol please contact Michael “Soon” Lee, CRS, GRI at (925) 864-8848 or michael@rogbmc.com.

Michael "Soon" Lee, CRS, GRI
Michael “Soon” Lee, CRS, GRI





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