The popular steam trains in Tilden Regional Park known collectively as the Redwood Valley Railway will celebrate 64 years of operation this weekend.
“All four engines will be steamed up both days including guest engines from our sister railroads,” the railway volunteers say.
The celebration is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 4 and 5 at the Tilden Park Steam Train off Grizzly Peak Boulevard at Lomas Cantadas Road.
The Carquinez Bridge opened on May 21, 1927. Here are some vintage images from the era and a 2011 Nilda Rego column on the origin of the bridge.
How the Carquinez Bridge came to be
By Nilda Rego
Nov. 13, 2011
Aven J. Hanford may have been in his early 20s, but he already owned three rather successful grocery stores, one in Vallejo, one in Oakland and the third in Alameda.
However, there was a problem. Hanford trucked his own merchandise, buying from a farmer or a jobber and delivering the products to his stores. It would take him a full day to get from the Vallejo store to the other two. Not only was his time consumed, but the long, arduous trip was wearing out his truck.
It was 1917. There were no bridges. Hanford bought a barge and would go across the Carquinez Strait in his truck, taking along a few passengers to help defray the costs.
Also traveling the same route day after day was Oscar H. Klatt, a young salesman for a San Francisco wholesale grocery company. The two met and determined to find a better way to get from Vallejo to other East Bay cities.
They came up with the idea of a ferry and started the Rodeo-Vallejo Ferry Company, which was a good idea, except for the fact there was a war going on. All the shipyards were way too busy to build a ferry. So if the two couldn’t get a new boat, what about a used one? Hanford heard of a little steamer called the Issaquah that ferried people around Lake Washington near Seattle.
Hanford went up to Seattle, bought the Issaquah and had it refurbished. Then he hired a crew, and even though he had no seafaring experience, he took command of the ferry. It was a harrowing trip. Hanford sailed the Issaquah through a fierce storm with a crew that was close to mutiny. But he made it.
It was a very popular ferry. Hanford gave up the grocery business. The company bought more boats. But there were always long lines of cars waiting to board. Sometimes, people had to wait for three hours, and the lines kept getting longer.
Hanford and Klatt realized a bridge was the answer. Then they heard that someone else was seeking a franchise to build a bridge across the Carquinez Strait. Hanford went looking for a lawyer and found A.F. Bray, of Martinez, who later became the presiding justice of the District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.
Bray suggested that Hanford ask the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors for a franchise because, according to the law, the governing county was the one situated on the “left bank descending the stream or arm of the Bay.” Hanford and Klatt got the franchise and organized the American Bridge Company. Hanford became the president of the company. The stock sold rapidly. However, both Hanford and Klatt had to mortgage their homes and all their personal property to add to the earnings of the ferry company for the construction fund.
Construction on the Carquinez Bridge started in February 1923 and was completed in May 1927. Hanford never got to see the completion of his project. He died at the age of 40 at his home in Berkeley.
His obituary in the Oakland Tribune reported “His death was caused by a brain hemorrhage due to overwork.” Klatt took over Hanford’s job as president to complete the bridge.
After a long day of campaigning in the Bay Area on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his entourage — including Secret Service agents — stopped for a late night meal at China Village on Solano Avenue. The unannounced appearance quickly drew a crowd of onlookers taking in the scene from outside the restaurant.
“It was worth the wait,” said a woman who was there when Sanders came out of the restaurant after he was done feeling the burn of the Szechuan cuisine. “He was great. He shook hands with everyone.”
Small groups were still outside the restaurant, closed by then, after Sanders departed.
Adoring crowd on Solano Avenue chants for @BernieSanders Wednesday
A ribbon-cutting on a Bay Trail link will be held at the northwest corner of Christie Avenue and Shellmound Street in Emeryville at 9:30 a.m. May 12, which is Bike to Work Day. The new section “connects southbound cyclists from Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond to the Bay Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Pathway and the Mandela Parkway, and connects northbound cyclists from Oakland and beyond to the Emeryville and Berkeley Marinas, and shorelines up to and through Richmond.”
“The Emeryville Connection” Ribbon Cutting will dedicate “the opening of the new cycle track section of the Bay Trail, from Powell Street to Shellmound Street on the north edge of Christie Avenue, along with Emeryville’s second dedicated bicycle turn signal at Shellmound Street and Christie Avenue.”
A Bike to Work energizer station will be at that location from 7 to 9 a.m. that morning.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner —
Here is the ID of the once-familiar building in El Cerrito and its background, which we asked about last week. The building is best known (see photo above) from its decades attached to El Cerrito Mill & Lumber, with the lettering growing more faded as the years passed.
The building originated around 1929-30 as Mammy’s Place, a plantation-themed attraction for travelers on the newly rerouted Lincoln Highway (San Pablo Avenue), just south of Cutting Boulevard, “near the large Carquinez Bridge sign,” according to the menus given out to customers as a souvenir. The proprietor was Harry Bottger, who may have also operated the food concession on the Richmond-San Rafael ferry.
Mammy’s Place boasted a “fine hardwood dance floor and music,” though the establishment once ran afoul of the authorities over the use of its jukebox, according to news accounts of the day.
Bottger later opened another restaurant on the southern end of San Pablo in El Cerrito and Mammy’s closed.
With demand for housing at a peak during World War II, contractor Elmer Freethy purchased what was then El Cerrito Lumber at 1206 San Pablo Ave. (now 10812 San Pablo Ave.) from John Carrick to secure a supply of building materials. At some undetermined point, he also purchased the abandoned Mammy’s Place building and had it moved and attached to El Cerrito Lumber. There was a sentimental attachment. Freethy, in a 1990 interview about the “chicken dinner” building, referred to it as “the chicken shack,” and said he had purchased and moved the building because he used to take his future wife dancing there.
Elmer and Marjorie Freethy were married in 1930 and he started his contracting business the next year, according to an El Cerrito Wall of Fame profile in the city newsletter. One of his early big contracts was construction of El Cerrito High School from 1939-41.
The old chicken dinner building was torn down when El Cerrito Mill & Lumber underwent a major remodel by Elmer’s son, Jack Freethy, in 1996 as noted in this earlier post. The business, which had grown over time to include major portions of several blocks, closed in 2000 and the remodeled original El Cerrito Lumber building, redesigned in Victorian style, was moved across San Pablo and is now the Vitale Building.
Mammy’s Place is long gone and even though original owner Bottger was of European extraction, those free menus once given out to travelers are now rare and prized pieces of black Americana. A menu listed on eBay about in 2011 sold for more than $120.
Elmer Freethy died in 1998. Marjorie Freethy, a native of Point Richmond, died in 2013 at age 105.
This building was once a familiar sight for a long time in El Cerrito, first at its original location and even longer at the property where it was moved and attached to an existing building and given a new use. By then in rundown condition, it was ultimately torn down during a major remodeling of buildings on the property that became its second home.
Can you identify its original and/or later locations, as well as its original name and use from this photo detail?
Feel free to click the comments button above and post guesses or memories of the building.
Our thanks to the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce for sharing this photo from its archive.
Before the Point Isabel proposal, an airport was proposed off of Berkeley in 1945. (San Francisco Public Library History Center)
If a plan first raised in 1966 had flown with regulators, there might have been an airport for small aircraft along the Bay in Richmond where dogs now frolic, strollers and bicyclists take in Bay views and UC Berkeley is planning its global campus.
The proposal for the Point Isabel airport between Point Isabel and Brooks Island surfaced in the summer of 1966 and was largely embraced by business leaders in Richmond as beneficial to local commerce and the region as a whole. Had the proposal been made 10 years earlier, it might have flown. But plans to fill 225 acres of mudflats now had to go before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the regulatory panel established in 1965 as a result of the activism of the the Save San Francisco Bay Association (later Save the Bay).
The airport proposal was exactly the type of project Save the Bay tried to halt, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by the idea’s promoters.
The City Councils in Albany, Berkeley and El Cerrito all went on record in opposition, with Kay Kerr, one of the three founders of Save the Bay and the wife of UC Berkeley President Clark Kerr, speaking against the project before the El Cerrito council.
The plan did get as far as being submitted to the BCDC for consideration, but discussion was postponed a few times and the notion ultimately ran out of steam.
On Nov. 16 the Oakland Tribune reported that Berkeley had officially stated its opposition to the project:
The council also went on record as opposing the proposed Richmond Airport in the bay between Point Isabel and Brooks Island. The project, which is to come before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission on Friday, would require
filling 225 acres in two stages.
The council opposed the project because it would create a noise problem and commit a major portion of the Eastbay shoreline before a regional plan could be drawn up. Councilmen also noted that regional plans call for inland rather than bay airports.
On Nov. 19 the Tribune reported that “BCDC took no action at this time on a request by the city of Richmond for an ‘advisory opinion’ on a proposed airport construction at Point Isabel which would involve filling 225 acres of tidelands. The project would serve small planes.”
Organizers have revised plans for the annual day of Service on Jan. 18 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The following announcement was sent out this weekend:
Scaled back Martin Luther King Day of Service in Richmond due to anticipated rain
Richmond, CA. Due to rain forecast for Monday, Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG) decided to modify plans for the 9th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday.
The noontime program with speakers and performances has been cancelled, and there will be no kid’s zone activities.
Projects and activities will focus around mulching, weeding, and some planting, Coffee/pastries in the morning and a hot soup lunch will be provided for volunteers.
All are welcome—wear layers and rain gear!!
What: 9th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service
Who: Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG) and City of Richmond
Where: 8th and 16th Streets on the Richmond Greenway (between Ohio and Chanslor)
When: Monday, January 18, 2016, 9:00 am – 12:00noon