Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Adventures Afoot

Local hike leader Doris Klein has put together a series of short (3 to 4 mile) historically-themed hikes that will be held on Wednesdays from mid-August through the end of October. Registration for the entire series of eleven “Adventures Afoot” guided hikes will be $10 for Museum members and $15 for the general public, with all proceeds benefiting the Museum. Hikers will carpool from the GVRD parking lot at 401 Amador Street in Vallejo every Wednesday morning at 8:15 a.m.. Register for the “Adventures Afoot” hikes at the Museum or call Doris Klein at 643-4468 for more information. Pre-registration is required. Here is the schedule of hikes:

August 19th - Muir Woods: A cool, less-than-four miler on lesser known trails to hear the story of this beautiful redwood canyon and its 100 years of fame. A car fee (about $5) or free parking if someone in your carpool has the National Park’s Golden Age card. A little tiny hill; at our placid rate we’ll hardly notice it.

August 26th - Cool Coastwalk at Limantour Spit: Explore the lagoons behind grassy sand dunes for birds and sea-going wildlife – and a look-see at the inlet where Sir Francis Drake careened the Golden Hind in June of 1579. Four miles, sand-walking, both wet and dry.

September 2nd - Lynch Canyon: Opposites attract! This is 15 minutes away, no shady conifers, but there is always a welcome breeze. And this has special, local history. Play Cowboys and Indians today as we admire sleek cattle and admire Wintun artifacts. Three miles, some hills, but the view is ours, and Our Own Open Space may be less open in days to come.

September 9th - Samuel P. Taylor: Back to shady redwoods and a cool creek, and look for early salmon as we walk the Pioneer Tree trail and the old railroad grade. History galore! Sailing around the Horn. Gold dust. His favorite mule, “Barnaby”. The old hotel. Young San Francisco’s paper industry. One modest hill, nicely graded, less than four miles today.

September 16th - Pinole: East Bay Regional Park’s shady trails near our breezy bay. About four miles, no hills, and perhaps a Monarch Butterfly tree. Lots of history, and only a short drive.

September 23rd – Mt. Tamalpais North Side: Lakes on Mt. Tam? Yes, there are several, and we’ll circum-ambulate one, and see another. We’re close to the coast, so a mile of morning sun will be kind, and the afternoon will be shady, and no hills to speak of. About 4 miles. Try for a full carpool, as this Water District land has a car fee.

September 30th – Carquinez Strait Overlook: A short drive to walk on Vallejo’s “opposite coast.” Our towns look so different from there! Absorb the story of the gallant sailing ships that sailed back and forth to Europe and around Cape Horn, taking grain from our great valley. Reminisce about the whales who’ve swum up here. See a ship or two. A short walk up and down the old streets of Port Costa, though that does call for a short hill-climb.

October 7th – Jack London’s Home: Beauty Ranch, in the Valley of the Moon. A walk up a mild hill to savor the vineyard’s fall colors, and discuss the historic and colorful past of this “sailor on horseback.” We pass ranch buildings and the old house where he wrote. The car fee includes a walk to the ruins of Wolf House, and their museum home, filled with artifacts of a fascinating life.

October 14th – Bothe/Napa State Park: The site of Lily Hitchcock Coit’s summer place. Drive through Napa Valley at harvest time to walk in the cool forest, alongside a cool creek. No hills! We may hear the cry of the pileated woodpecker, and see red poison oak climbing 60 feet for sunlight.

October 21st – A Visit to Sand Hill Cranes. Cosumnes River, for the feel of fall, at the Nature Conservancy’s lovely preserve of the only un-dammed river in California. Such fun to see and hear these great birds who fly down from northern climes to over-winter here. And to see beaver evidence, other birds, a passing train, and to think how it would be to kayak or canoe here on this slow and lovely river.

October 28th – Admiral Nimitz Way. Level walking on a view hill from Inspiration Point, almost to the old Nike site. San Francisco Bay and Richmond’s old shipyard in full view for our history lesson, and a visit to the Peace Grove to ponder. This is Tilden, East Bay Regional Parks District’s first.

Remember, these trips are by carpool, so please be prepared with enough gas in your tank so you can do your part. Your passengers will be grateful. Doris says: “I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favorite places with you. May we walk together in good health, and learn what a truly interesting region we live in, while supporting our own Museum. For information, please feel free to call me anytime.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Drydock No. 1

On this day in 1872, work commenced on Mare Island’s first permanent drydock. It would take nearly 20 years to complete the massive stone drydock, the first of four that eventually served the Shipyard. Drydock #1 was lined with enormous granite blocks, quarried near Rocklin, California, and brought to Mare Island by rail and barge. The excavation of the dock was done with horse drawn scrapers, ox carts, and wheelbarrows.

Prior to the construction of this drydock, ship repairs at Mare Island were done in a floating sectional dock, built in New York and brought around the Horn to California in the early 1850s. Construction of the permanent drydock forced the removal - and eventual destruction - of this original historic floating drydock.

On Wednesday, August 14, 1872, the Vallejo Evening Chronicle offered this account of the beginning of construction of drydock #1:

“The proposed location of the stone dry docks will necessitate the moving of the sectional docks down stream several hundred feet. Men are now engaged in drawing the timbers out of the boom, and storing them away in the timber shed.”

“The government dredger will be put to work in a few days scooping the mud from the bottom of the basin.”

“Ground was broken on Tuesday [August 13] for the dry docks, under Foreman Sargent. The work thereupon is not to be done by contract, as at one time reported.”

The final paragraph of the article shows that some things never change:

“All of the men in the Construction Department will probably lose five days this month on account of the appropriations being overrun.”

The original hand-drawn plans for drydock # 1 are in the collection of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.

Below left: Sectional Drydock
Below right: Drydock #1 in 2005