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Diablo, California

Small and secluded, Diablo is tucked away in the hills between Danville and Blackhawk. The community consists of about 1,200 residents residing in this "old world" setting for estate homes..  The most prominent landmark in Diablo is the Diablo Country Club and golf course, pictured here.

The “Big Four” of railroad fame owned the 10,000 acres in 1876, and successive owners cared for the property with fondness and money. Sometime after 1889 the owners named the property “Oakwood Park Stock Farm.”

Several owners occupied the farm before 1913, but that year Robert N. Burgess, a young farm manager turned real estate speculator and developer, headed a group which bought it for $150,000. The young man, Danville-raised, had a grandiose idea for the property. He would tempt the rich among the hundreds of thousands coming to see the Panama-Pacific International Exposition that would open in San Francisco in eighteen months.  Burgess bought the land abutting the northeasterly border of his Oakwood Park Stock Farm all the way to the top of Mount Diablo. 

He needed better transportation to get his prospects out from Oakland and San Francisco. At his urging, friends on the board of the new Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway extended its line to Diablo in 1914. He persuaded another friend, the president of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, to string his company’s line to the clubhouse he had made of the Billiard Hall and to the homesites he was offering for sale. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company also extended its 4,000-volt line the three miles from Danville.

Burgess made an inn of the old mansion. He offered memberships in his Mount Diablo Park Club at sixty dollars each, all of it refunded if the member bought a lot. He charged annual dues of twenty dollars. His building sites sold for $600 each and by 1916, fourteen homes were being lived in. That year the United States Post Office granted his request for a post office, making official the name he had chosen, “Diablo.”

The golf course opened in 1916 with nine holes; a year later members and guests played the full eighteen.

With restrictions put on the public when the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, the Burgess company’s ability to pay its bills ended. It filed a petition of involuntary bankruptcy in 1919.

Over the next twenty years a succession of owners acquired the land. First the Mount Diablo Country Club operated the built-up area. The State of California took over the largest part, establishing the Mount Diablo State Park in April 1931.

Lawrence Curtola stepped on to the scene in 1948 and bought out the two owners. He operated the Diablo Country Club in the traditional style of such clubs until 1961. In the effort to stay out of the red he attracted large outside groups to hold their balls, dances, company parties, and regular luncheons at his facility. Horsemen’s groups rented stable space from him and rode the nearby trails of the state park.

In 1961, the club members bought the club back from Curtola for $440,000 with funds raised from a mortgage. In 1974, they paid off this indebtedness. Still unincorporated, the community is self-sufficient. It has grown from a fashionable summer resort to an enclave of suburban homes showing permanence, their gardens matured by years of loving care, and their family club reeking with tradition.


Links

San Ramon Valley School District
Diablo Demographics