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The smallest national park service outlet in California occupies a mere half-acre at Concord on the east shore of San Francisco Bay — but it tells a very big story. The National Memorial of the Port Chicago Naval Magazine commemorates a horrific World War II tragedy that shines a critical light on civil rights issues and has changed the history of military segregation.

A massive explosion occurred in July 1944, when sailors loaded bombs and ammunition on ships bound for the Pacific Theatre, killing 300 enlisted men and injuring 390 others. Many of the casualties were black secreted soldiers. A month later, remaining battalion leaders defied orders to prepare explosives due to health risks, contributing to the so-called Port Chicago Mutiny. Fifty men — Port Chicago 50—were accused of the murder and sentenced to up to 15 years of hard labour. Their trial revealed the systemic bias of the navy and pressured the Navy to unbundle its ranks and reinforce security procedures.

You have to plan ahead to see that little-known piece of American history. To receive security clearance (this is an active Navy base), book a position at least two weeks in advance. At the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, each small-group tour begins with a short movie. A shuttle will take you to Concord Naval Weapons Station where you will be accompanied by a park ranger to the edge of the Bay. Near the ruined deep-water harbor pier pilings, the names of the victims are etched on granite tablets, and an American flag flies above their final resting place. It is a lovely, contemplative place, a solemn homage to those who made their country the greatest sacrifice.


The Committee of Port Chicago is planning to extend the new memorial to include 250 acres (1.0 km2) of the former waterfront of Port Chicago. The memorial site might include some of the 1940s railroad revetments and old boxcars, as well as the existing memorial chapel, with stained-glass windows depicting the operations of World War II.

The Sustainability and Innovation Program of the National Park Foundation, in collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS), develops strategies for making park facilities more environmentally friendly and safe while at the same time rising environmental stewardship.

By Geraoma - Own work, Public Domain,
By Geraoma – Own work, Public Domain,

This amazing landmark in Pittsburg, California is located near some other must-see places of interest:

  • Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
  • Small World Park
  • Buchanan Park 
  • Pittsburg Historical Society
  • Dow Wetlands Preserve
  • Highlands Ranch Park
  • Central Park
  • Stoneman Trailhead

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 1091 Shary Circle in Concord, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!