Maps of Bay Point / Port Chicago then
A strange chunk of land, estranged from its history, with stories fenced
off into forgoten-ness. This crazy world with forces attempting to save
artifacts that no one knows the relevance yet no capital to follow up
these dreams, we can only write and tell stories of grander times. So
goes this town of Port Chicago.
Transfer of land holdings. First the Chupcan tribe of the Bay Area Miwok
walked. Am not seeing the title of this location during the Mexican
Rancho days, it appears wedged between Rancho Monte del Diablo (concord)
and Rancho Los Medanos. Then, the Americans moved into the area. While
boats were carrying cargo up and down Walnut and Grayson Creeks, while
the hamlet of Pacheco was continuously flooding and people were packing
up and moving to the town of Todos Santos / Drunken Indian / Concord (I
like Drunken Indian the best), this area, then known as Seal Bluff, was
being sporadically inhabited by new immigrants.
As with most areas of Contra Costa County, checkered regions of these
areas were company towns, and to do justice to the history, neglecting
the companies' and the industries' involvements would be sacreligious.
In the 1890's, Santa FE and Southern Pacific Railroads laid track
through this land. Also during this decade, Copper King Mines Ltd.
set up a smelter here, running its hand through hundreds of tons of
copper, silver, and gold ore but the company quickly folded.
According to Emmanuels, "the comapny's assayer was less than
competent. . . He ran off with an actress, leaving his wife and
children in Seal Bluff". Smith Lumber Co., operated by Charles Axel
Smith, set up shop in 1908, later named Coos Bay Lumber Co. The
lumber company also was responsible for renaming the area "Bay Point",
retiring the former label "Seal Bluff". All went swimmingly,
employing 190 men, if not more for the lumber company, until the
dreaded stock market crash of 1929, and they closed shop in 1932. An
olive oil plant opened up. Along came the Navy.