El Sobrante, California

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Coordinates: 37°58′38″N 122°17′43″W / 37.97722°N 122.29528°W / 37.97722; -122.29528

El Sobrante is a census-designated place (CDP) in Contra Costa County, California, United States. The population was 12,260 at the 2000 census. The Spanish name 'El Sobrante' translates to 'leftover', 'remainder', 'extra' or 'surplus' in English.[1]



According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.1 square miles (8.0 km²), all of it land.

El Sobrante is unincorporated and lies within Contra Costa County. Main roads include San Pablo Dam Road (a major road running from Richmond and San Pablo, through El Sobrante, past EBMUD's San Pablo Reservoir), Valley View Road and Appian Way. San Pablo Dam Road and Appian Way both connect to Interstate 80 to the west.


Between 5,000 B.C. and 1,000 B.C., an indigenous tribe of people called the Huchiun, a sub-tribe of the Ohlone, came to the East Bay, including El Sobrante. One of the Huichin villages was located where the El Sobrante Library now stands. The Huichin left a now-buried shell mound beside San Pablo Creek.[2]

In the 1770s, the Huchiun were forcibly converted to Christianity by Spanish missionaries,[2] and died in great numbers. After Mexican independence from Spain in the early 19th century, Spanish colonists were given land grants, one of which was Rancho El Sobrante, deeded to Juan Jose and Víctor Castro in 1841. The grant's boundaries were unusually complicated, as they were to be determined by the boundaries of the surrounding grants: San Antonio, San Pablo, El Pinole, Boca de la Canada del Pinole, Acalanes, and La Laguna de los Palos Colorados. In this sense, the rancho was el sobrante, the remaining area. Legal disputes concerning the borders and the claims of squatters continued for four decades, with much of the land sold to pay court and attorney costs. Victor Castro was left with 549 acres (2.22 km2) of the original grant. He built an adobe dwelling in what is now El Cerrito, and became one of the first members of the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County. Castro died at the age of 90 in 1897.[3] Some of his descendants still live in the area of Castro Ranch Road.[4]

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