Port Costa, California 

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Established 1879


Port Costa’s history is traced back to 1879, when the town was founded. It was a major grain port for merchant sailing ships, with warehouses, saloons and hotels on waterfront wharves reaching halfway to Crockett. From this deep water port, two of the largest train ferries in the world, the Solano and Contra Costa, steamed to Benicia and back. At the peak of the grain season, the town was home to 3000 inhabitants, most of them sailors, stevedores and railroaders.

Port Costa is surrounded by park land . The East Bay Regional Park District currently maintains 1,305 acres of rolling hills, bluffs and shoreline along the Carquinez Strait from Crockett to Martinez. About a mile west of Port Costa, at Eckley, the Park District has installed a fishing pier and group campground. Hiking trails wind through oak and eucalyptus, with spectacular panoramic views of the water and East Bay hills. 

Visiting Port Costa today is to be in touch with its past. Windjammers no longer anchor off the shore, the roundhouse and wharves are gone, but vintage buildings in the small commercial district remain, and homes of an earlier time line the main street. The town’s population now is about 190, with two restaurants, one hotel, several shops and a post office. The historic Port Costa School was closed in 1968, but it is being restored and revitalized as a community center by a volunteer group, the Port Costa Conservation Society. 



Sometimes you don’t have to go very far to get away from it all, says a travel writer in the Contra Costa Times. In an article on local destination points (“There’s plenty to see right here in Bay Area”), Knight Ridder correspondent Barbara Egbert lists a number of locales close to home, among them Port Costa. Some of the others: 


  • Mt. Diablo State Park, where campers and hikers can experience quiet and solitude  just minutes away from millions of people. Great view from the highest point in the Bay Area.


  • John Muir’s house in Martinez, where guests are free to wander  the famous conservationist’s Victorian mansion, to climb up into the attic and ring the bell in the bell tower.


  • Niles, where Charlie Chaplin filmed and starred in “The Tramp.” His company, Essanay, turned the town into the center of the film industry from 1912 to 1916.


  • San Juan Bautista, in San Benito County, where its two-century-old adobe mission is located just off El Camino Real, the original Royal Highway that connected all 21 of the California missions.


The Port Costa reference in the article, dated November 25, 2001 (also December 23 in the Stockton Record) is reprinted below:

Port Costa. This tiny Contra Costa County enclave of about 250 residents was once a major deep-water port, shipping millions of bushels of California wheat all over the world. A few stone buildings dating from the 19th century still sit just yards away from the Carquinez Strait, housing a hotel, post office and a couple of restaurants. Narrow McEwen Road seems to take visitors through a time machine as it leaves busy Highway 4 in Martinez, winds through eucalyptus-studded cattle lands and drops abruptly into town. The historic Port Costa School building is being restored by the local conservation society. Surrounded by regional parkland, Port Costa is destined to remain a village and artists’ colony. 

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© 2019 Port Costa Conservation Society 

1 Plaza Del Hambre 

PO Box 36

Port Costa, Ca. 94569-0036
Email: pccs.portcosta@gmail.com