Written by Bill Zavestoski
Sometimes history is right in our midst, but unless we were lucky enough to visit on an elementary school field trip, we might not have any idea that something significant has happened in our own backyard.
Hop in the car with the family and spend a day getting to know these historic sites within easy driving distance of East Bay. The best part? You can get to all these destinations on one tank of gas (or less).
1000 Kuss Rd.
Go? You may get inspired to write a masterpiece of your own after seeing
where America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill,
created his most memorable plays like Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Iceman Cometh and A Moon for the Misbegotten. All were
written in Tao House on the 158-acre ranch O'Neill and his wife
bought in 1937, drawn by the
privacy and climate of the San Ramon Valley.
Tip: All visitors must take a free National
Park Service shuttle from Danville to the home and grounds. Shuttles
The Museum of the San Ramon Valley at 205 Railroad Ave.
Do: Take advantage of the
guided tours offered on Fridays and Sundays, for which you must make
reservations in advance. On Saturdays, you can go the self-guided
route and don't have to make a reservation.
There is no entrance fee—even the shuttle ride is free. Shuttles
on guided-tour days leave at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., while on "Saturdays
Without Reservations," you can hop aboard at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m..
43300 Mission Blvd. (at Washington Blvd.)
Go? The Spanish missionaries had no reservations (pun
intended) about putting Native Americans to work at the missions. It
helped secure Spain's hold in Alta California and spread Christianity
to the masses (do I detect another pun?). See what everyday life was
like for these folks in the early 19th
Insider Tip: Flash photography is prohibited inside the mission. ”There were lots of artifacts on display, and lots of paintings and drawings that you can't find in books or online," a recent visitor wrote online. "Overall, it was insightful and informative."
Stroll through the adjacent cemetery and note the birth and death
years dating to the 1800s on many of the gravestones.
Fine Print: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Self-guided tours at $3 for adults and $2 for students are available
during those hours, with check-in at the gift shop. The only
reservations needed are for the docent-led tours offered at 1 p.m. on
the second Sunday of each month; $5 for adults and $2 for students.
205 Railroad Ave.
museum is housed in the restored 1891 Danville Depot and features a permanent exhibit of local valley
tours with a docent can be scheduled during open or closed hours by
appointment. In the spring, walking
tours of Old Town Danville, Alamo Cemetery and the Tassajara One Room
School House are offered.
Do: The Museum features a permanent exhibit of local valley history, beginning with geology and prehistoric times all the way to the present day.
Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for students with an ID, $1 for
children and there's a $5 family admission. The museum is open just
three hours a day: 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 1
p.m. Saturdays and noon to 3 p.m. Sundays.
Military Ocean Terminal
To honor the 320 men killed on July 17, 1944 when the
munitions ships they were loading for the Pacific
theater troops exploded. It was the greatest loss of life on the home
front during World War II. In October 2009, Port Chicago Naval
Magazine National Memorial became the 392nd unit of the National Park
The memorial is located on five acres at Military Ocean Terminal
Concord, a semi-active military base. Reservations must be made at
least two weeks in advance and visitors are shuttled to the memorial
on National Park Service vehicles from the Concord Naval Weapons
Station Identity (ID) Office. Park in the visitor parking lot at
visitors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have a
Must Do: Just stand, look out and imagine what happened that tragic night. It may not be as haunting as the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, but you'll get a chill learning more about the history of the site.
The Fine Print: Tours, lasting about 90 minutes, are available Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. There is no fee for the shuttle or tour.