Point Pinole Shoreline and Its Explosive Legacy of Dynamite in the Bay Area

One of the most peaceful parks in the Bay Area is responsible for some of humanity’s fastest boom. go towards Point Pinole Regional Coastline For spectacular views of the water in Richmond, a cliffside walk with wildflowers and a history lesson in explosive construction and urban ruin.

The Giant Powder Company had an exclusive license from Alfred Nobel to make dynamite—and did so in San Francisco’s Glen Canyon, until it was vaporized in 1869 in a massive explosion at the factory that shattered windows a mile away. gave. The company reopened at a facility near today’s Sunset District, but that too flew. At this point, the locals had had enough and moved the company out of town to a location in today’s downtown Albany.

The allure of the third time… Actually, no, there was a massive explosion at that factory that killed everyone on site and broke more windows, this time as far away as UC Berkeley. In 1892, the company decided to go as remote as possible and moved to the area around Pinole Point. There, it established the Giant City to house its employees, which by now must have been an extreme case of panic.

Today, visitors can see the various odd structures and remnants of the site’s unstable past in a path called the “Nitro Trail”. There are many different ways to walk (or ride bikes, scooters or horses) in the park. I choose a loop that starts at the Atlas Road staging area and takes about an hour to complete, including a walk along a very long fishing pier.

Earthen structure related to explosive construction at Pinole Point. John Metcalf/Bay Area Newsgroup

The first thing that strikes me is the camphor smell of eucalyptus trees. They line the wide, flat path on either side, groaning and creaking in the wind. When factory people planted them long ago to stop the force and noise of explosions. Couldn’t have been the best choice for a place making dynamite: since Eucalyptus inspired fierce debate For his tendency to spread flames like crazy during wildfires in California.

At one turn in the trail sits a Hawking black-powder press that once spun a wet explosive mixture called “wheel cake” into a dense, highly explosive material. “And when they started it we went out, because you never know when it was going to blow up!” As per informational indication, one worker was recalled.

The view of the trail opens onto a vast salt marsh into which the bourgeois foundations of concrete buildings stand out. The marsh is thickly covered with marinade with pickles, a brightly flavored plant similar to the “sea beans” you might find at Berkeley Bowl. Hundreds of feet off shore, fishermen stand in waist-deep water while giant ships glide quietly across the main channel from ports in Stockton and Sacramento.

Nearby, a clay structure looks like an asteroid collided with dirt and lifted it into a giant donut. This strange feature is a “Dynamite Blast and Burning Bunker,” which signage says is visible at various locations throughout the park. One of these structures even has a picnic bench inside it, where you can enjoy a hiking breakfast and imagine you are in a pit on the moon.

Accidents decreased after Giant was acquired by the Atlas Powder Company in the early 1900s. In 1931 and 1938—there was only one death from a “catastrophic” explosion and fire—and, as nilda rego details In a 2012 column for this publication, security considerations became paramount:

Metal tools were replaced by rawhide-clad hammers and wooden shovels. The workers were told not to wear rings.

The same brooms were no longer used without hesitation inside and outside. Instead, now the inside and outside of the broom were separate, because of the danger that gritty debris stuck in the broom could cause sparks and the nitroglycerin would fly off.

Workers were required to wear cuffless pants that could not pick up grit. The pockets were faced with mesh to discourage employees from carrying matches and cigarettes. High wooden walkways connected the buildings so that grit, tack or any other spark-causing debris would not get trapped in the soles of the shoes.

The owners controlled what the dynamite line workers talk about. Political and other disturbing discussions were not allowed.

The northernmost point of the trail runs along a path where people pull wagons full of fishing gear and portable speakers playing local radio jams. Hollow concrete balls called “reef balls” lurk right in the water; They provide safe habitat for Olympia oyster larvae to grow into plump adulthood. There are also skeletal remains of Atlas Dock, where workers used railroads to roll explosives onto ships bound for South America and the Philippines.

At the pier itself, anglers can catch halibut, rockfish and . fishing for white sturgeon, which is the largest freshwater catch in North America at more than 10 feet in length. The modern record-holder was stopped here in the Strait of Carquinez in 1983 – it weighed 468 pounds. Joey “Sturgeon King” Pallotta spent more than seven hours The animal descends and it is still the largest freshwater fish caught by rod and reel in North America.

Point Pinole Hike 1
A cliff trail runs along the Hayward Fault at the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. John Metcalf/Bay Area Newsgroup

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