Moraga (incorporating the former communities of Moraga Town, Rheem, and Rheem Valley) is a suburban incorporated town located in Contra Costa County, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is named in honor of Joaquin Moraga, whose grandfather was José Joaquin Moraga, second in command to Juan Bautista de Anza. As of 2010, Moraga had a total population of 16,016 people.
Moraga is located at 37°50’06” North, 122°07’47” West, at an elevation of 499 feet (152 m). It is located adjacent to the cities of Lafayette and Orinda, as well as the unincorporated community of Canyon. Other nearby cities include Walnut Creek, Oakland, San Francisco, Concord and Berkeley.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.4 square miles (24 km2), of which, 9.4 square miles (24 km2) of it is land and 0.09% is water. Originally Moraga was abundant with pears, however, over the years more houses are being built and it is losing its pear trees. Large sections of the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail pass through the town.
Moraga is a valley, surrounded by rolling hills (green in the winter, brown in the summer) and grazing cows. Residents enjoy walking or biking many trails in the Lamorinda area.
Moraga is well known for its school district, which attracts many people from surrounding cities, such as Berkeley, California, Walnut Creek, and even as far away as Martinez, California.
The land now called Moraga was first inhabited by the Saklan Native Americans, who belonged to the Bay Miwok language group.
Joaquin Moraga was the grandson of José Joaquín Moraga, builder of the Presidio of San Francisco and founder of the pueblo that grew into the city of San Jose. Joaquin’s father Gabriel Moraga was also a soldier, and an early explorer who named many of the state’s rivers, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin.
Moraga is located on the 1835 Mexican Land Grant Rancho Laguna de los Palos Colorados given to Joaquin Moraga and his cousin, Juan Bernal. Part of that grant was the property today known as Moraga Ranch. The Moraga Adobe has been preserved, and is located in neighboring Orinda. Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, a middle school in Moraga, bears his name.
In the first half of the 20th century (January 1, 1900 – December 31, 1950), the line of the Sacramento Northern Railroad ran through Moraga; much of the old right-of-way is now part of the popular Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail.
Moraga’s first post office opened in 1886, and was closed in 1887; it reopened in 1915. In 1955, Moraga built a new post office.
Saint Mary’s College of California moved to Moraga in 1928.
In November 1974, Moraga was granted township, becoming the Town of Moraga. Its first park director, William Penn Mott, Jr. went on to become the 12th director of the U.S. National Park Service. He is ranked behind John Muir, and Teddy Roosevelt for his service to the national park system. In 1974, Rancho Laguna Park 8.4 acres (34,000 m2) of land located at 2101 Camino Pablo was donated to the Moraga Park Authority by Louise Glass.
Rancho Laguna II and Palos Colorados have become known as the names of two controversial proposed housing developments in Moraga – two of several projects encompassing over 1200 homes that are being considered by town officials. Other projects include Harvest Court, Via Moraga, Painted Rocks, Bollinger Valley, Indian Valley, and 500 other homes in the central area of town.
Standing next to the Moraga fire department is the hazard house. The hazard house serves as a display for elementary school tours to demonstrate all the things not to do and how to prevent a fire. The Moraga Fire Department began as a volunteer service staffed by retirees. The Moraga Fire Department is part of the Moraga Orinda Fire District.
The Moraga Safeway store opened in early 1965 and was managed by Bob Nethery. The Moraga Orchard Supply Hardware store opened in August 2005.