Sunday, June 19, 2011

Two bridges, three murder sites, squirrels and flowers ride

Vallejo CrocketbridgeWhen famed tour guide LanceOldStrong proposed a ride across the Benicia and Vallejo bridges that also included:
  • The Frontage Road behind the Airport in Concord
  • The Sewage Treatment Plant
  • Concord's 100-year-old paupers' field cemetery for the unclaimed and indigent.
  • Three other graveyards along the route
  • County Jail 
  • Bail Bond Row
  • Murder #1: The site of the murder of Dr. John Marsh in 1856
  • Murder #2 a Zodiac killer murder site
  • Murder #3 another Zodiac killer murder site
  • Other points of historical oddness.
How could we not go?
Pachaco Cemerery wallsignsSquirrel
John Marsh murder sire
Our first major site (if you don't count the sewage treatment plant we saw in the distance) was the Pacheco Cemetery. They've recently started locking the gate, and we couldn't fit through the crack in the sad wall. We were reasonably content to peer in over the fence. We also stopped briefly in Martinez by a California Historical Marker (and big rig parking spot) of the murder of California pioneer John Marsh.

From there we rode past the county jail and courthouse on our way to cross the Benicia bridge. We ducked into Benicia and rolled down to the Benicia State Recreation Area where Mr. LanceOldStrong shared his snack with some ground squirrels that live in the sewer there. It was like a scene from Willard.

Leaving the shoreline we rode over about 4 feet of genuine cobblestones, just so I could say "Yes, the Roubaix handles the cobbles very well, thank you." We also dropped in on the Benicia Camel Barns, home of the US Camel Corps in 1863-64.
Zodiac killing siteWe saw the Cytomax factory on our way to Lake Herman Road, site of perhaps the first of the Zodiac serial killer slayings in 1968. It's just a wide spot in the road, but someone had ominously graffitied a nearby sign with the Zodiac's signature symbol.

From there we headed out Lake Herman Road toward beautiful Vallejo, stopped off at the Catholic Cemetery, and eventually passed the "Second Baptist Church." Is that the biggest claim to fame they can come up with, "Second?" After dealing with odd intersections, lights that don't sense bicycles, and interesting neighborhoods we found our way to the Vallejo Bridge, and made our way to Crockett for lunch, where we visited with a couple our real-live touring cyclists headed for Napa.
Cemetery in Vallejo


Following lunch we headed toward Port Costa. We'd been promised history, and Mr. LanceOldStrong came through with a lesson about the Eckley Pier, shipping, trains, wheat growing in Contra Costa. (See interesting link in comments for details)

Riding the The Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail is always fun, and though I'm sure they are illegal, the road paintings always make me smile. The trail, undriveable by cars, makes for a colorful flower-filled ride.

two bridge loop flowers

moon face on road

goats Our last cemetery of the day was Saint Catherine of Siena on the edge of Martinez. I think if I'm ever in a cemetery I'll request goats rather than flowers.

Executive summary: Metric century, touring pace. Lots of looking at stuff, good lunch, much laughing.



  1. A very interesting article about the once vast wheat industry in Contra Costa County

    When Wheat Was King in Contra Costa

    There once were 23 grain warehouse along the wharfs of Crockett, Port Costa and Eckley, along with the worlds largest flour mill. These communities bustled with over 3000 sailors, railroad men, and longshoremen. Plus I am sure the associated saloons, flop houses and dens of ill repute.

  2. Great report Curtis. I really like the picture of the squirrel!

  3. Sounds like a great ride. The report & photos are stunning as usual. Always enjoy reading your blog.

  4. I've never thought of my stomping grounds in such interesting terms. We call it the "Bridge to Bridge" here in Martinez.
    We need to pull together and get them to connect the Benicia Bridge to where the canal trail ends in Martinez - other side of Highway 4. That way the valley folks could skip the sewage and bondsmen.


I'm turning off comment moderation for posts younger than 60 days, so your words will appear right quick.