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Sneath Dairy in San Bruno
June 13, 2011, 03:30 AM By Darold Fredricks

Author's collection Sneath's dairy (center) in San Bruno ran from the El Camino (lower) to Pacifica.

In 1875, Richard George Sneath (#1), was born in Maryland and migrated to California by way of the Isthmus.

After making his fortune around the mines in red Bluff, Calif., Sneath purchased the land located west of El Camino Real, north of what is now called Sneath Lane in San Bruno, and the Brentwood Addition in South San Francisco. The property ran to west of Skyline Boulevard area (Sweeney Ridge) and north to Westborough Boulevard in South San Francisco.

Eventually, had he had more than 2,000 acres under his control. Many rows of eucalyptus trees still mark the boundary of his property in these areas.

In 1878, George Sneath had a dairy operating from the main buildings about 1,500 yards west of El Camino Real facing Sneath Road (across from 1001 Sneath Lane). At present, the Golden Gate Cemetery has its maintenance yard in the area where the farmhouse stood. Across the road, to the south, lived Maria Tanforan and her large family. East of the Tanforans on 30 acres lived the Silva family and they had a horse ranch. Custodial Silva bought this land in 1871. The Crossroads Apartment complex is now being built on this property.

The dairy complex, where the Golden Gate Cemetery is now, was designated Jersey Dairy #1; to the west of Skyline Boulevard was 1,500 acres of Jersey Dairy #2 (Pacific Heights, Portola Highlands, San Francisco County Jail); and the Sweeney Ridge property was Jersey Dairy #3. Sweeney Ridge had the highest elevation of the ranch, approximately 1,300 feet.

Richard George (#1) was married to Kathryn Myers (1832-1936). They had five children, but only two sons and one daughter survived childhood. Daughter Minnie married Frank Dillingham of San Francisco; son Harry became the superintendent of the dairy business in the city; son George Richard (#2), born in 1861, managed the dairy business at the ranch in San Bruno. Richard George, became vice president of the Peninsula Ice Company in San Mateo (1928?), and he married Nancy Fyfe and had two children; son George (born 1919), and daughter Polly (born 1925).

Richard Sneath (#1) organized the Consumers Ice Company of San Francisco and, in July 1890, was made president of the company. The Sneath Jersey Dairy was very successful in the 1800s, but as time went on, more dairies were formed on the Peninsula. The competition was intense and eventually most of the dairies joined together to succeed. The merged dairies became known as the Dairy Delivery in 1906 — the largest dairy on the Peninsula. In 1925, the Millbrae Dairy sold its distributing business in San Francisco to the Dairy Delivery Company. Its headquarters were on McAllister Street in San Francisco. In 1927, Dairy Dale Company was formed on a combination of Riverdale and Dairy Delivery and a purchaser of the San Francisco Dairy. In 1929, Borden took over Dairy Dale and, in 1938, the Millbrae Dairy of the Mills Estate was combined into the San Francisco group.

In 1929, a number of acres of flat land, nestled in the hills west of Jersey Dairy #2 were sold to San Francisco County and a jail was built on the property.

It was during the 1920s that the Sneath land began being leased to numerous people for the purpose of growing vegetables and flowers and small dairy operations. Water was impounded by an earth dam where College Drive now flows in Pacific Heights. The lake that formed, however, was drained in the 1950s.

In 1939, 180 acres of flat land along Sneath Lane and El Camino Real was sold to the U.S. government for the development of the Golden Gate National Cemetery. Just prior to this, the Junipero Serra Highway (Highway 101) was extended from Hickey Boulevard to Sneath Lane, which became the connecting link to El Camino Real.

By the mid-1950s, the Rollingwood Addition was purchased for housing by A. Oddstead. Monte Verde Addition was developed and Pacific Heights housing was begun in 1957. Portola Highlands was begun in the early 1960s. Skyline College was built in 1969, and the L.D.S. Church on Sharp Park Road opened in 1969.


Rediscovering the Peninsula by Darold Fredricks appears in the Monday edition of the Daily Journal.

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