Sunday, March 28, 2010

Garin Regional Park

It’s the weekend, when I usually write my posts, but I just wasn’t in the mood to visit a historic landscape. Instead Dianne and I headed to Garin Regional Park for a hike and some bird watching. Garin Park is contiguous with Dry Creek Park and together they offer 3082 acres of open space in Hayward and Union City. It was a perfect time to visit the park because it was cool and sunny, a few wildflowers were out, and the trees were just leafing out, so it was easy to see the birds. There was a lot of bird activity – calls, drumming and flitting about, so we easily saw a Black-headed Grossbeak, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Western Bluebird, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and the flashiest Red-winged Blackbirds with blazing epilates. We also saw a Red-throated Loon on Jordon Pond, which was unusual for this time of year.

We took a leisurely hike soaking in beautiful scenes – green coated hills, tight candles on the Buckeye, bright California Poppy, darting lizards, a quiet pond, families picnicking - walking under massive oak limbs, down narrow paths lined with fresh poison oak, and over the narrowest wooden bridge I’ve ever seen.

Everything was vibrant and I was taking lots of photos, and thinking, “I wish there was something historic here so I’d have a reason to write about this special place on my HALS blog.” After our hike we headed to the visitors’ center, housed in an old red barn, but found it closed with a note saying, “Out to lunch, back shortly.” Something about the note made me suspicious. We waited till nearly 2:00, but when I inquired at the entry booth, I learned that the visitor’s center does not open until Memorial Day weekend.

Fortunately, an interpretive sign provided me with just want I was hoping for – a historic hook, and not just an ordinary history about the ranching culture in the Hayward area. Turns out this site was once known as Ukrania. Here is the text from the sign.

A long the ridge behind this panel lies a 52-acre parcel of historical significance. This farmstead known as “Ukrania” was the home of Ukrainian patriot, writer, and publisher Father Agapius Honcharenko. He and his wife Albina lived here for 43 years during their exile from Ukraine. Born in Kiev in 1832, Honcharenko attended Kiev Theological Seminary and entered a monastery at 21. He was appalled by the Church’s suppression of peasants while the monks lived in luxury. This led him to dedicate his work to the overthrow of the feudal system in the Russian Empire. His writings and activities earned him his revolutionary reputation among government officials. Among freedom fighters and patriots, he was respected around the world. Honcharenko faced many hardships including arrest warrants and death threats, forcing his escape to New York. In 1867, while being stalked by Czarist police, he moved to San Francisco. Finally in 1873, he was tracked to the west. Honcharenko sought sanctuary on the remote farm they purchased in the Hayward hills. For decades, they quietly tended their orchards, while Honcharenko remained a champion of the under classes. He died in 1916, a year after Albina’s death.”

The site is State Historic Landmark No. 1025. Honcharenko and Albina are buried at the site.

East Bay Regional Parks acquired the property in 1965. Today little remains of the original farmstead except the barn, some remnant stone walls that appear to have lined the original drive to the barn, and a two acre orchard with 160 varieties of heritage apples. So, for history lovers, bird watchers, hikers or wild flower seekers – this is a great spot.


  1. Chris and Cathy
    I hope to get a project funded in Hayward partnering with EBRPD near Ward Creek Canyon and Garin Regional Park. IF the $ come through I will be in touch to add you to the collaborative list. We should find out in June with funding FY 2010-2011.
    Good to see your thoughts.
    I hope I have linked in to the subscription so I can follow your blog.

  2. Cheryl,

    Good to hear from you and learn that plans are being made for Garin - a wonderful historic and park resource.

    Glad you found my blog. It's great having readers.