The experience of Indigenous peoples with the Tesla wildlands and their current aspirations for permanent protection are a driving force in our conservation efforts. The Corral Hollow Creek, canyons and ridge tops were seasonal hunting, gathering and trading grounds for Northern Valley Yokuts from the floor of the Central Valley and the Ohlone peoples from the East Bay. Tesla includes several unique bedrock mortars and rare pre-historic rock carvings. One overlooking Mount Diablo and the Central Valley is thought to be a ceremonial site with some estimates at 4,000 years old.
From the mid-1770s, the canyon pass, then called El Camino Viejo, from the Livermore Valley to the San Joaquin Valley was the route used by the Spanish to travel from the East Bay to the Central Valley and then to Southern California.
In the mid-1800s, the first commercial coal mines in the State were opened in the Tesla area. In the 1890s a large-scale commercial mining operation for coal, clay and sand was built and the company town of Tesla flourished for two decades. After a devastating 1911 flood, the mines and town were abandoned for salvage. Today, historic townsite has largely reverted to its natural condition, but its rich cultural landscape remains.
Tesla’s rich cultural history combines with rare biological resources to provide a unique public experience.