Contra Costa County - What Does a Nobel Prize Winner, the Memory of Rosie the Riveter, and a Couple of Nature Lovers
All Have in Common?

They all made cities in Contra Costa County their home.

So... what do you say... let's go exploring. Are you ready? Okay!

First there's... Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner Eugene O’Neill - one of America’s most prominent playwrights -- chose to live in Northern California in Danville California.

O’Neill was often of as the father of modern American drama for the new, uniquely American style of tragedy he created.

He experimented with new dramatic techniques and dared tackle such controversial issues as interracial marriage, the equality of the sexes, the power of the unconscious mind, and the hold of materialism on the American soul.

Drawn to the privacy and climate of the San Ramon Valley, the O'Neill's purchased a 158-acre ranch near Danville.

They decided to call their new home Tao House (pronounced "Dow").

Sometimes thought of as the father of modern American drama, O’Neill - during the height of his writing career - isolated himself from the world within the walls of his home to write his final and most memorable plays... ‘The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey into Night’, and ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten’.

Of all the places Eugene O’Neill called home during his restless life - the Tao House - was the one that held him the longest.

Now apart of the National Park Service, Tao House is one of the premier destinations in Contra Costa County.

The Eugene O’Neill Foundation - Tao House Playwrights’ Theatre - in collaboration with the National Park Service - present staged readings of O’Neill’s plays by professional directors and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Every September... in downtown Danville and at Tao House... an annual Eugene O’Neill Festival - filled with production plays - are performed by member of the Playwright’ Theatre.

The Tao House tour is FREE and provides a shuttle service. However... if you want to visit the place where O’Neill called home longer than anywhere else, you have to make RESERVATIONS first.

Okay... let's head to the next sight. Now... you might be asking...

In Contra Costa County - What IS the memory of Rosie the Riveter?

Many of you may already know. But for those of you who don't... let's find out...

It's a park commemorating the contributions women made during World War II.

It’s called the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Park - located in Richmond California... a city in western Contra Costa County.

When over 6 million women from all walks of life and backgrounds outfitted themselves in overalls and with all sorts of industrial tools to help American productivity build enough product to help America win the war.

They worked in steel mills, foundries, and shipyards - building cargo ships at manufacturing facilities like Richmond-Kaiser shipyard.

But that’s not all... they worked in lumber mills, warehouses, offices, hospitals and daycare centers.

But the city of Richmond felt the effects of their efforts more than anywhere else - going from a small town to a booming city.

It hosted the largest number of defense industries and war housing projects in the country.

Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Richmond CA

Four Richmond shipyards with their combined 27 ship-ways, produced 747 ships... more than any other shipyard complex in the country.

Also... 56 different war industries set up shop in Richmond... more than any other city of its size in the United States.

Women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds came to Richmond to find new, better-paying jobs throughout the war.

For many women, WWII gave them the very first paycheck of their lives.

At the height of the war, women made up about 27% of the 100,000-strong Richmond Kaiser shipyard workforce.

And in other industries... women made up to 80% of the workers.

So... even though WWII affected our entire country... it changed California and the San Francisco Bay Area forever.

Alright... let's find out about these nature lovers...

So... Who are the Nature Lovers?

One is John Muir. The same man who played a prominent role in the creation of several national parks... like Yosemite, Sequoia National Park, and other wilderness areas.

John’s father-in-law, Dr. John Strentzel built a 17 room, 10,000 square foot Victorian Italianate style mansion in Contra Costa County seat of Martinez California in 1883.

John Muir and his wife Louisa lived in the mansion from 1890 to his death in 1914.

When visiting the mansion, you’ll see a multi-story home. One story houses the west parlor, east parlor, dining room, sun room, and conservatory.

Another story is for 5 bedrooms, Muir’s office, attic and cupola - a small dome-like structure for providing 360 degree views of the property.

When visiting... you and your family can take either guided or self-guided tours.

And the other nature lover - the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, California.

This Contra Costa County museum is a place where you and your family connect with wildlife and learn about the natural world.

The animals on display are native to California.

The volunteers and staff on sight... answer any and all questions about the animals and their living environments.

The Petting Circle showcases small animals like... rabbits, rats, and guinea pigs.


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