By Stacy Poulos PostcardTravelers
I’m always astonished how much rich History or HerStory there is right under our noses in the San Francisco Bay Area. I explored Point Richmond Area by land and sea in search of what was once the largest Winery in the world from it’s birth when the California Wine Association moved from SF to Point Molate Richmond after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 and remained the title of “world’s largest winery” for 12 years (1907–1919). Until it’s demise and was shut down by Prohibition in 1919. Really The Largest? Over Italy and France? Yep, it’s true. It’s an abandoned town once called “Wineheaven California” (U.S. National Register of Historic Places) and it’s castle remains north of the Point Molate off Stenmark Dr.
(PS I will be updating this when I finish my adventure).
If you walk on the Pt. Molate Park Beach facing the water it would be to your right, around the corner less than a mile away (I don’t know if you can walk to it on the beach, but you can see the backside through the fence from the road). There is a bit of a battle to what they are going to do with the area. In my humble opinion, it is rare to be able to boast the ‘largest in the world’ of anything let alone the prestigious commodity of wine! So. I say restore the castle and keep boasting.
Winehaven 2036-2040 Stenmark Dr. Near Point Molate Beach Park Richmond, CA
My map and notes.
Walk 1,000 feet south to your left towards the Bridge at Point Castro is a 200 foot shipwreck, with half sticking out of the water even at high tide. There are actually 3, if you look at Google Earth. With the completion of the bridge in 1956 the car-ferry service and inner city railway that resided there eventually rendered the pier useless and became a fishing pier. After years of lack of maintenance, it is now a barley recognizable battered pier. This once thriving corner of the Bay is now a water front ghost town mostly restricted from the public. For me, it’s a photographers dream. There is a public park you can enjoy where you can see the shipwreck. Just know it is windy out there. If it’s a date night you can start here and work your way back to end up at the wineries. To me it’s crazy this are is not as explored as it should be.
Point Richmond Pier
Next stop is Miller / Knox Regional Shoreline at Point Richmond on Canal Blvd. At the very point, is a gutted out building. And a fishing pier which. Along side the new fishing pier is a dilapidated pier that used to be a commuter ferry service to the San Francisco Ferry. You can see where the train rails lead to the terminal which now are broken and lead underwater. I actually kayaked under it. The besides being broken-down and battered, it is clear there was a recent fire that further damages the battered pier. For me, it was the highlight of my kayak trip. It is said, it is at ‘Ford Point’ however you can’t find it on the map. Something I have found over time, places are renamed and it really depends on who you ask. It’s name came from the historic Ford Plant. But you put in ‘Point Richmond’ and you will find it. There is a whole walking tour of the area with points of interests. Across from the Museum is R&B Cellars where you can wine and cider taste and have a bit to eat while you enjoy the Bay view.
Now it’s time to warm up and get out of the wind. Working your way back go to see the inside of the SS Red Oak Victory ($10 donation to get in, mostly Closes at 2pm). I have not been inside yet, however I have been under the massive destroyer it in a kayak. It’s A original ship made by the Rosie The Riveters. If you aren’t familiar who Rosie is, during WWII all the available men were summoned to fight the war with no one left to build the Ships and Airplane’s. So women were summoned to come work in the shipyards. There is a famous print by Norman Rockwell that advertised “You can do it” to encourage women to join the movement where the women, who other wise were expected to be housewives were summoned to work in the shipyards. Back in those days it was ludicrous a woman would do a “man’s job”—even if they wanted to. Rivets are basically like ‘a nut and bolt’ a all in one, permanent mechanical fastener that holds metals sheets together to make a airplanes, ships, bridges and such. They did more than assembled them with rivets, they welded and did all types of non-traditional jobs. It was war-time and Richmond area was the largest producer of war time. The rural City of Richmond exploded. Now the whole area is dedicated to preserving this HerStory.
Open daily 10am – 5pm
1414 Harbour Way S #3000, Richmond, CA 94804 (510) 232-5050
After seeing the ship, go to the Rosie The Riveter Museum, it’s very tactile with life size people to give you a sense of that time. Maybe even go home with a lunch pail. Especially if you have kids, they should see how woman contributed to the war effort. The Museum is free but if you can spare it, donations are always appreciated.
Now that you’ve had a day of HerStory, reward yourself at the Assemble Restaurant you basically get to eat and drink in the boiler room of the Ford Assemble plant.
Now you have a choice to call it a day and watch the sunset there, or go back to see the sunset over a Pirate Harbor. Yep, a pirate harbor only you me, John Wayne and and a few others know about. If you continue on back on Stenmark Dr. past Pt. Molate Park Beach make a right onto a dirt road to San Pablo
Follow the ‘Point San Pablo (Pirate) Yacht Harbor sign. There are is a public bathroom and public kayak launch. But this little eccentric cove has a long History. Is was originally made by By Captain Raymond H. Clark in 1939 lined up about 9 ships on both sides to create a breakwater Harbor eventually overtime the ships were covered with dirt. And yes, that’s what you walk on. Fascinating. At sunset, at least on this day was a golden calm. At one point in History it was the setting of the movie ‘Blood Alley’ with John Wayne and Lauren Bacall
Update! There is a quaint restaurant now at Pt San Pablo Harbor with Excellent food! Check out my yelp and fb live post!
Point San Pablo Yacht (Pirate) Harbor Many buried ship wrecks
1900 Western Drive, Richmond, CA 94801
1955 ‘Blood Alley’ with John Wayne and Lauren Bacall partly filmed at Point San Pablo Harbor.
Thanks for listening, fan me baby!