'Solano' to make port. Trains travelling to San Francisco from Sacramento used this spot several times daily. Jack London frequently made the trip, sailing this water and drinking at the bar on the opposite shore in Benicia.
The wooden wharves were built out into the Strait, most of the town was built there too. Fires have reduced all of the wharves to blackened stumps at the water line. When you are at the shore you can see them jutting from the blue green water like gnarled rotting teeth. But picture it as it was, miles of wooden docks running along the water, and right in front of the big pine tree you see in the middle of the picture, there was a 'roundabout': a large revolving platform built with railroad tracks embedded inside. The Locomotives would steam onto the Ferry 'Solano' and travel across the Strait to Post Costa. Once there, the roundabout would revolve to line up with the tracks on the Ferry, the train would steam to shore and the round about would turn to line the train up with the tracks that ran along the shoreline. The train tracks are still there, carrying trains from Oakland , through Martinez and into Sacramento. The Ferry is long gone, a Railroad bridge having replaced it just outside of Martinez in 1930, just about three miles up river.
Port Costa was important, not only because of the train crossing, but also because it was the largest wheat shipping port in California at the time. The flat lands of present day Concord, Pacheco, Danville and into the Central Valley provided the growing country with much needed grain. There is still a Warehouse located in small Port Costa, though it is now a Restaurant and Bar. If you ever find your way there, be sure to ask the Barkeep for the Port Costa Ring!
6 months ago