In July 1982, HHS (formerly known as the Hercules Area Restoration and Preservation Committee, Inc.) was formed by former City council-members Lynn Fissell (formerly Judnich) and John Cadigan. Incorporated in the State of California on September 19, 1985, the Franchise Tax Board issued tax-exempt status under Section 23701d Revenue and Taxation Code on September 12, 1986. The Internal Revenue Service issued tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization on December 19, 1986.
HHS is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation. Its officers and members represent a cross-section of many community groups and professions. Its main focus is the restoration and preservation of historical aspects of the City of Hercules.
This is one of the decals that were typically affixed to the railroad tank cars that carried product from the Hercules Powder Company during its heyday. This particular decal was preserved by Daniel Bentz who worked at the plant for 40 plus years in the maintenance department. Daniel’s daughter, LaVonne Harrison, donated this artifact to the Hercules Historical Society.
“Historic U.S.40 Route” Sign Project
Before the construction of Interstate 80, Highway 40 was the main route from San Francisco, through the Sierra Nevada, eastward. Highway 40 was the second coast-to-coast Transcontinental Highway in the United States and ran 3,338 miles from Harrison and Tenth Street in San Francisco, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Highway 40 used much ofthe route ofthe country’s first coast-to-coast highway, the Lincoln Highway. Part of Highway 40 ran through Hercules …along what is today San Pablo Ave.
The “U.S. Historic 40 Association” was started by Eddie Lang. Known as “Mr. 40”, he has worked toward the goal of honoring and remembering Highway 40. In 1998 he persuaded the California Legislature to designate the remnants of Highway 40, from Reno to San Francisco, as a historic route.
The U.S. Historic 40 Association won Caltrans’ approval for a “Historic US 40 Route” road sign. The Hercules Historical Society learned of this project and its members decided to participate by purchasing and placing 12 signs along the Hercules’ portion of old 40. You will be able to see these signs, which are attached to traffic signal posts along San Pablo Ave. Under each Highway 40 sign is a smaller sign, noting the Hercules Historical Society as the sponsor of the sign.
During the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, US 40 connected San Francisco with Sacramento, the Gold Country, and the winter resorts of the Sierra Nevada. Then came the Winter Olympics of 1960, at Squaw Valley. US 40 was chopped up, rerouted, paved over, and renamed, as the highway department built a faster, wider, straighter freeway … all with the goal of transporting people to these Olympics. Unlike Highway 40, officials said that the new Interstate 80 never would close in the winter.
As Interstate 80 picked up the majority of the auto travel, change came to old Highway 40. Family picnics along the route became less frequent. Gas stations closed. Motels lost business and “Vacancy” neon signs brightened up the night sky. Numerous fruit stands along the roadside disappeared.
“The sad part is that people use Highway 40 everyday and never know it,” Lang has said many times. San Pablo Ave is on 40. So is the Causeway that leads to Davis. Many Sacramento landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, old Sacramento, the Governor’s mansion, and Raley’s Field are along the old 40 route.
Some ofthe other cities that have joined in this project include Vacaville (50 signs), Rocklin (28 signs), Loomis (28 signs), Auburn ( 17 signs), Truckee, Colfax, West Sacramento, and Dixon. There is also a sign in Pinole, just after you enter the city, along San Pablo Ave, southbound. Lang’s plan is to eventually have signs running along the entire route from San Francisco to Reno. It will take more than 2,000 signs to complete the project.
The Hercules Historical Society is proud to have joined this project and hopes the citizens ofHercules will join in and remember Historic U.S. 40.
text credit: Matthew Barrows, Sacramento Bee; Bob Polachi, Hercules resident.
Chinese Workers in Hercules
On October 14, 2008, a plaque dedicated to the Chinese workers in Hercules was included in a dedication ceremony for the City of Hercules newest park called Frog Pad Park (located at Sycamore Avenue and Willet Street). The plaque is imbedded in a stone that together are considered a monument and is in front of a ginkgo tree. Members of the Chinese Association of Hercules and the Hercules Historical Society were joined by the Hercules City Council and provided those present with the background information to explain the inclusion of the plaque and tree at this particular site.