Hercules Historical Society

Hercules Powder Label

Hercules is a municipality in Contra Costa County. It is home for 25,000 residents, headquarters for a global biotech corporation and place for a collection of small and medium-sized businesses. Hercules belongs to the San Francisco Bay Area regional economy, the sixth largest in the nation. 

A century ago, Hercules was the site of one of the largest explosives factories in the world. The explosives produced here and the techniques of their production were profoundly important. Explosive chemicals were fundamental to the rise of large-scale industrial production that lifted living standards and transformed societies. Powerful chemical explosives shaped the world in which we live today. 

Since 1972, Hercules grew as a suburban city, exemplifying California’s pattern of housing development with single-family homes accessed by motor vehicles.  Hercules’ story over the last half-century of converting industrial land into a place for people reflects larger lessons for many places in California.  

This website displays the assets and research results that tell the history of Hercules from its industrial era to today’s residential era. 


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Warren H. McBryde

Assistant superintendent of the Hercules Powder Works during World War I.