There are few traces left of
San Mateo's First Residents
Before the Europeans arrived, Native Americans living in the San Mateo area were known as the Salson. The Salson have been grouped with the Ohlone or Costanoan people. The Salson triblet was the largest of several small groups in the region that stretched from the present-day South San Francisco to Belmont and from San Francisco Bay to the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. When the first Spanish explorers arrived, the largest Salson village was located behind the present Crystal Springs Dam.
The Salson lived in tule houses whose frame was made from native willows that grew along the banks of creeks and whose roofs were made from marsh reeds.
The region offered a mild climate, abundant game and vegetation, and fresh water from the nearby San Mateo Creek, which was one of the larger freshwater creeks along the west side of the Peninsula.
The Salson hunted deer, rabbit, elk, antelope, and birds with bow and arrow, snares, and traps. They also fished for salmon and sturgeon and gathered shellfish, berries, seeds, and acorns to supplement their diet.