HomeThe Refugio ValleyRails, Piers and Roads

Rails, Piers and Roads

Routes of travel across Refugio Valley emerged as generations of indigenous peoples walked between the Pinole watershed and the Carquinez strait.  Europeans used and expanded the routes into wider roads.  Today’s San Pablo Avenue traces one of the main routes; Willow Avenue traces the other route over the low saddle to the Rodeo Creek watershed. 

In 1878, the Northern Railway was constructed along the San Pablo Bay shoreline from today’s Emeryville to Martinez. It would be operated by the Southern Pacific as the western portion of the transcontinental. In 1898, construction of the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad reached Hercules from Franklin Canyon; the line would be sold that year to the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. 

Four marine wharves were constructed for freight transportation by the California Powder Works. A 1902 franchise was granted by Contra Costa County for one of the wharves used for acid shipments. 

From about 1905, a network of narrow-gauge rail lines covered all of the Refugio Valley, operated for internal movements of chemicals and products within the Hercules Works. 

San Pablo Avenue was designated US 40 in 1926. The limited-access Interstate 80 was constructed in 1959 along an entirely new, straight-line right-of-way. 


http://stacks.herculeshistory.org/Still Image/408 WH McBryde/408 12515 - 1905 May 5 - Sulphuric Acid Plant - Excavation.tif

Transportation was vital. Barges loaded dynamite at a wharf built a half-mile east of Hercules Station; another “Acid Wharf”, extending...