Corbitt's National Parks
      Port Chicago Naval Magazine
                National Memorial


1992: National Memorial

Size: ?

2008 visitors: ?

Stamp: Yes

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

Located on an active military base in San Francisco Bay, this Memorial honors the memory of sailors, Marines, civilian workers and Merchant Marines who were killed or wounded during a horrific explosion on July 17, 1944. During World War II, this Magazine was used to load munitions ships for the fight in the Pacific. But on that day, 320 men (202 of them African-Americans) were instantly killed when the accidental explosion occurred. This was the worst homeland disaster during the war.

The Memorial honors the courage and service of all these men who played such a critical part in winning the Pacific war. This terrible incident was a catalyst that helped the Armed Forces to racial equality in the ranks following the war.

What You're Going to See

This Memorial is located on an active military base. As such, the National Park Service has no facilities at the site, and reservations to visit must be made well in advance. Advanced reservations are available Wednesday-Fridays starting between 10:30 and noon (you should allow 2 hours for the trip). The visit includes free transportation from the Eugene O'Neill NHS (which is only 5 miles away) to the Memorial on the military base, and a guided tour. Allow two weeks to process your request. For more information or to make tour reservations, call (925) 838-0249.

By 1944, Port Chicago was being used around the clock to loading munitions on ships. On July 17, 1944, two ships were docked here, the SS Quinault Victory, and the SS E.A. Bryan. 320 cargo handleers, crewmen and sailors were working in the area, which was filled with about 5,000 tons of high explosives and ammunition. The explosion killed all 320 workiers, destroyed one of the ships, shattered buildings around the pier, and damaged every building in Port Chicago. Another 390 people were wounded.

Personal Observations

I haven't been here yet. But combining a visit here with a visit to Eugene O'Neill NHS seems like the height of practicality.

Getting There

From Oakland/Berkeley, take Highway 24 east to Walnut Creek. Merge onto Interstate 680 north, towards Sacramento. Merge onto Highway 242 north to Concord. Take the Port Chicago Highway exit north to the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

From Sacramento, take Interstate 80 west. Exit onto Interstate 680 south to Martinez. Take the Highway 4 exit east to Concord. Exit onto Port Chicago Highway north to the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Nearby Attractions

Well. Talk about chock-full. In the San Francisco Bay area alone you'll find Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, Fort Point National Historic Site, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, John Muir National Historic Site, Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Of course, California Coastal National Monument runs the entire length of the California coast. Not far north of the Golden Gate Bridge you will find Muir Woods National Monument and Point Reyes National Seashore.