by Emerian Rich
Niles was established in the 1850’s as a junction point for the Southern Pacific Railroad from Oakland and San Jose to Southern California. It was home to the first flourishing mill of the area and California Nursery, the largest rose plantation in the state. It is situated in what is now the city of Fremont in Alameda County.
Nile’s big claim to fame started in 1912 when it was home to Essanay Studios. At the height of its movie making fame, the studio produced famous movies of the time starring Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Beery, and Ben Turpin, as well as many Broncho Billy westerns filmed along the main streets of Niles. Charlie Chaplin’s famous film, The Tramp, was shot in Niles Canyon.
In 1956, five towns in the surrounding area were incorporated into Fremont including Niles, Irvington, Centerville, Mission San Jose, and Warm Springs. Niles still managed to hang on to its roots and is home to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum which keeps the spirit of silent films alive, showing tourists and locals the magic of the early days of film.
Today, Niles is a four block strip…continue reading.