At the left is the cover of the new history of El Sobrante, published by Arcadia Press and authored by local historian and resident, Donald Bastin.  The book is now available!   It is filled with interesting photos, most of which have never been seen outside of the families who donated them.  If you live (or have lived) in El Sobrante, and love this community, this book should be part of your library.  If you would like a signed copy, you can contact the author directly by e-mail, at:  Or call:  510-223-8438.  Books are $22 (the tax has already been paid).  Proceeds go to support the El Sobrante Historical Society.

            Upcoming and Ongoing Events



 Exhibit:      Best Little Town by a Dam Site
Left: Clementina Diaz;   Right: Steven James
Come by and see our exhibit in the Mechanics Bank in El Sobrante: Highlights of El Sobrante History.  On display now by the rear entrance, for an indefinite period!


 It's Back!        A Place for All Reasons
 Our first exhibit, a history of the El Sobrante Library, has been re-installed, for an indefinite period, in the Periodical Room of the
El Sobrante Library.  Shown standing by the exhibit is Head Librarian Ian Richards. 

Many thanks to Ian and the library staff for their wonderful support of our Society!

 Exhibit at
El Sobrante  Library , Installed June 21, 2012

 El Sobrante's First School is the title of this new exhibit, now on view in the entrance-way of the El Sobrante Library.  It tells the story of little Sheldon Elementary School, which served the children of El Sobrante from 1880 to 1952. 

From left:  Donald Bastin of the El Sobrante Historical Society and Head Librarian Ian Richards
Gallery of Past Events

 Sunday, September 17, 2017The 24th Annual El Sobrante Stroll a Big Success!
All in all, a good day.  Lots of folks coming by our booth; lots of newcomers to the town wanting to know more about the place.  We signed up over 30 new members and sold 12 El Sobrante History books! 
Maury showed his beautiful 1956 Chevy for the second time, and received a "Fabulous Fifties" award. 
The parade was the usual spotty affair, with too many lengthy gaps, but with the same can-do spirit as ever. 

The horses and horse people were beautiful.  Here is a lovely girl dressed as a typical native Californian of the 1800s.  

Our very supportive Supervisor,
John Gioia, was everywhere, and here stopped to talk with ESHS member, Emil Munkres.  

The weather was fine, but, as usual, the wind came up in the afternoon, and despite our heavy weights on the support posts, our canopy was lifted off the ground more than once.  Our displays included artifacts from the now closed Adachi Nursery, some photos and an update on the work on the historic rock wall along the San Pablo Reservoir, and pictures of the old De Anza High School.  We had some De Anza HS photos for sale, but only one sold.  Tellingly, it was a picture of the inside of one of the boy's bathrooms.  Ah, the memories!

 Sunday, September 20, 2015
Another Stroll, Come and Gone!

The 22nd annual El Sobrante Stroll was held on a hot Sunday in September, but without the usual afternoon winds to cool things off.  Our historical society was there, having missed the 2014 edition.  At left are some of the usual suspects.  From left:  Lyle Miller, Donald Bastin, County Supervisior John Gioia, and Maurice Abraham.  Founding member Steve James could not be there, as he was attending a football game with family members.

All in all, it was a good day.  We signed up 29 new members, sold a few books, told a few stories (and listened to many more), and showed off some new acquisitions, including a saddle that once belonged to horseman Claude Pitt (and his daughter Claudia), who once owned the Pitt Arena, where the
Mechanics Bank now stands.  But the big story was our successful installation of 12 historical markers in the new sidewalks that were constructed in the city's downtown area.  For a map of the markers, go to our historic walks site, on our home page.

For the first time this year, Maurice entered his 1956 Chevy Bel Air Coupe in the car show and competition.  Maury has been working on his baby for years, and it shows.  The car is immaculate! 
 Sunday, September 15, 2013
 El Sobrante Stroll!
20 Years old, and Going Strong!

The El Sobrante Historical Society was again part of our town's annual Stroll, its booth showcasing local history.  This year, we concentrated on exhibiting items rescued from the old De Anza High School,  which is almost completely demolished at this writing.  Among the objects recovered were clocks, clothing, pencil sharpeners, hall bells, light fixtures, a typewriter, and a porcelain water fountain (that was on the wall across from the office).  We hope to be able to retrieve some of the tiles that were
cemented to the wall at the entrance to the old school.  Will keep you posted on that.  It is surprising how many people were concerned about the fate of those tiles.

Our collection of historic El Sobrante artifacts just keeps growing. Hopefully, we will be able to secure some permanent space to display the curious and wonderful things that have been donated.

                   At right: Scott and Karen examine the
                                        clock display.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
History/Nature Walk along San Pablo Reservoir

Ex EBMUD ranger Bob Flasher and ESHS founding member Donald Bastin led a group of around 36 adventurous souls from Kennedy Grove, along the shores of the San Pablo Dam, ending at the rock wall and stairway built by the boys of the CCC in 1935.

Bob pointed out items of interest to the nature lovers while Donald reviewed the history of the Dam, including its construction, beginning in 1916, the CCC years during the Great Depression, and the long-delayed opening of the reservoir to the general public in 1973. The walk was a joint venture of our local creek restoration group, SPAWNERS and ESHS. 
Plans are now being made for the preservation and presentation of the old CCC site.
  Photos by Steve James
 Saturday, March 16, 2013
 Contra Costa County Library Turns 100!
                 Great Turnout for Birthday Party!

Over 60 people showed up for the kickoff event for the county's 100th birthday, held at the El Sobrante Library.
Here we see Tom Panas (right), of the El Cerrito Historical Society, giving a presentation on the history of El Cerrito and its library.  Donald Bastin of ESHS is standing beside him.  Donald covered the history of the county library in general, as well as some little-known west county libraries, and the El Sobrante library.  Representatives of the historical societies of Pinole, San Pablo, and Hercules reviewed the histories of the libraries in their towns. 

Supervisor John Gioia was in attendance.  Here we see John, flanked on his left by Barbara Flynn, current head county librarian, and on his right, Ian Richards, head librarian for the El Sobrante and Pinole libraries.  The photographs were taken by Rita Xavier, of the San Pablo Historical Society. 

El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce Honors ESHS!

On Saturday, January 19, 2013, the El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce officially selected the El Sobrante Historical Society as its "Business Of The Year" for 2012.  This was quite a happy surprise, as we have only been around for two years.  Apparently, however, the Chamber folks had determined that our efforts have had a positive effect, not only on the awareness of the history of our community, but on the general business climate as well.  We couldn't be more proud.
In addition to the award from the Chamber, the Society was also honored with a "Big Picture Award" from the West County Waste Water District, for our "Outstanding Service to the Community."  Lastly, we were presented with a "Certificate of Recognition"from John Gioia, Contra Costa County District 1 Supervisor. 
We are looking forward to a great year in 2013!

From Left: 

Maurice Abraham
District 1 Supervisor, John Gioia,
Steven James
Donald Bastin
Lyle Miller

El Sobrante Stroll, September 16, 2012

This was the second Stroll for our young historical society.  We had new exhibits and photos to display.  All four of our founding members were on hand for at least part of the day.  Shown here, from left are:  Steve James, Donald Bastin, and Maury Abraham.  Maury brought an ancient garden tiller that his father had used on his little farm along Santa Rita Road in the 1940s and 1950s.  He also created a wonderful hand-out, a self-guided walking tour of downtown El Sobrante.  We also had El Sobrante and Richmond history books for sale, as well as a 2013 calendar, based on a calendar put out by the Skow Dairy in 1951.  All in all, it was a busy day.  It seems that the El Sobrante Stroll gets more popular every year.

Ya gotta love the El Sobrante Stroll!
There's nothing quite like it.  The parade, which starts at 11 am, consists of a wide collection of school and community groups, local dignitaries, horses and their riders, and people with all kinds of animals, like the girl at right, holding a large boa constrictor.  Everyone wanted to touch the snake.  At right is Mike Frith, manager of the Mechanics Bank, which is just visible in the background. 
One group that was missing this year was the Sikhs.  We missed their color and music.  Hope to see them next year!

El Sobrante Stroll, September 18, 2011. 
Sandwiched between the SPAWNERS booth and the El Sobrante Library booth, the newly-created ESHS was well situated to offer information about our group and to tell the story of the evolution of our community.

Three of the four founding members were present.  From left:
Donald Bastin, Steve James, Lyle Miller.
The fourth member, Maurice Abraham, was vacationing in Europe and unable to attend, but made up for his absence by allowing us to use his most excellent canopy.

History Expo, Hercules Library, October 22, 2011.
The ESHS joined with other local historical societies to share information with each other and with interested members of the public.  Other groups included:  Pinole Historical Society, Hercules Historical Society, El Cerrito Historical Society, San Pablo Historical Society, Rodeo Historical Society, and the Contra Costa County Historical Society.  In the photo at right are (from left) sisters Margaret Prather and Deanna Brownlee, of the Faria family of Pinole.  Behind the ESHS table is
Maurice Abraham.

Exhibit:  A Place For All Reasons, November, 2011
Our very first exhibit was featured in the display case in the entrance-way of the El Sobrante Library, and, appropriately, covered the rich and interesting history of the library itself.  If you missed it, don't despair, as we are planning to put this exhibit on (more or less) permanent display in the library's Periodical Room.

Event:  Small Town, Big Changes-A brief history of El Sobrante and San Pablo Creek, February 1, 2012.
At a meeting of SPAWNERS (San Pablo Watershed Neighbors Education and Restoration Society), Author Donald Bastin gave a powerpoint presentation and afterwards sold (and signed) copies of the newly-published history of El Sobrante. This event was attended by many El Sobrante Old-Timers who had an opportunity to share memories.
Standing room only!
(Photo courtesy of Lyle Miller)

Exhibit:  Pieces of the Past.  At the El Sobrante Library, January 15 through February, 2012.  A unique collection of Native American artifacts recovered in 1950 from a mound along San Pablo Creek, in El Sobrante.  On loan from Dorothy Phillippi, on whose property the items were uncovered by famed anthropologist, Robert Heizer, who estimated their age at between 2000 and 3000 years.  If you missed this exhibit, that's a shame, as they may not be shown again.

El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce Mixer, Mechanics Bank, March 14, 2012.

These mixers are held monthly and are sponsored by various community groups or businesses.  The March mixer was hosted by ESHS, and was attended by about 40 guests.  In this photo, we see, from left:  Jennifer Arrouzet (Chamber President), Michael Frith (Bank Mgr), Barbara Pendergrass (Chair, El Sobrante MAC), Jean and Maurice Abraham.

Reunion at De Anza High School and Kennedy Grove, August 18, 2012.
On Saturday, August 18, graduates of De Anza High School shared memories of the old school, meeting on the newly-renovated baseball field.  Originally, the plan was to tour the new school, which is nearing completion.  However, lawyers got involved, and it was apparently determined that liability issues would preclude any such tour.  Bummer.  On the bright side, the old school was kept open, and alumni wandered freely down the halls, through the cafeteria, the library, and even the bathrooms.  To this ex-student (class of '61), the inside of the school looked surprisingly well-maintained and, well, ready for another class.  Turns out that the old building will be in use for some time yet, as the new building is not expected to be completely ready for use for perhaps up to another year.

From Left: Bill Patterson, Class of '62; Don Cook, Class of '60.

Looking east down the De Anza main hallway.

Reunion at Kennedy Grove.
From left:  Scott Harriman and Walter Wheat, both from the class of '68. Scott is the son of De Anza coach Neal Harriman.  Walter is the son of Wilbert and Vesper Wheat, pioneer African American family in El Sobrante.