CCCHS Videos

Our collection of online videos has grown over the years. To make it easier to find the video you wish to view, they are now broken into groups, as you can see by the titles below. Click on the tab you wish to review, and a list of videos in that category will be shown. In addition to watching the videos here on our web site, many of these videos can also be found on our YouTube channel. If you wish to go directly there, you can click on the link here.

NEWSMAKERS: Lesher Speaker Series November 2, 2015 - CCCHS non-profit partner

For a number of years, the Lesher Foundation has sponsored a series of 6 speakers annually for their "NEWSMAKERS: Lesher Speaker Series" on topics of interest to the public, ranging from sports to history to current events. In addition, various non-profit groups throughout the county are highlighted through their "non-profit Partnership" arrangement. On November 2, 2015, author David McCullough was the speaker at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, and the Contra Costa County Historical Society was chosen as their non-profit partner for the evening.

As part of the partnership arrangement, local TV station KTVU came to the History Center in Martinez and created this two and a half minute video, which was shown to the audience before the start of Mr. McCullough's speech.

Contra Costa County Historical Society - Who We Are

The Contra Costa County Historical Society has released a new video showing the History Center in action. From examples of our archives' documents and photos to examples of what types of information is available to the public, this YouTube video can be used to reiterate to all the importance of our Society to historians, genealogists, and anyone interested in our county.

Dedication of New History Center Location

In January, 2013, the Contra Costa County History Center moved from 610 Main Street to 724 Escobar Street in Martinez. On April 20, 2013, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house to show off the new facilities to our members and friends. This video shows members of our board and our executive director being joined by Mayor Rob Schroeder of Martinez along with County Supervisors Federal Glover and Karen Mitchoff as we officially opened our facility.

A Little History on Our Society

In conjunction with the Bay Point Teen Video Project, producer Doug Harris brought his student film makers to Martinez in 2002, interviewing our Executive Director Betty Maffei about the history of the Contra Costa County Historical Society and the archives housed in our History Center. Below is a clip from that documentary:

County Aviation History

Another Doug Harris YouTube video interviews Bill Larkins, a volunteer at our History Center and an authority on early Bay Area aviation. In the segment, he and others talk about the building of an airplane in 1911 in what was then Black Diamond, CA (now Pittsburg) and named after the city where it was built.

Black Diamond Memories

Our next video dates from 1985, and is a history of the Black Diamond Mines in what is now Antioch. Produced for the East Bay Regional Park District, the video includes footage of the area when it was a working mine interspersed with interviews of people whose families worked the mines.

Mount Diablo Gets a Makeover

In 2013, the "Eye of Mount Diablo", the beacon that sits at the top of the mountain, was refurbished in time for its annual December 7th lighting. The video below, sponsored by Shell, talks about the process of removing the beacon, cleaning it up and getting it ready for its annual show.

Shell: A Century in Martinez

In 1915, the Shell Oil Company opened its first refinery in the United States in Martinez. The following video, created by the staff of the Shell refinery in Martinez, celebrates their 100 years of service to the Martinez community.

An Historical Mystery

Recently, the History Center received a donation of some film footage taken by an unknown photographer in and around the Martinez area in 1927. The footage has been broken into two parts, as shown below:


If you have any comments or can help us identify any people or places in the videos, please contact us by clicking here.

In January, 2018, longtime CCCHS member and past president Traci Parent sat down with our former Executive Director Betty Maffei to discuss the early years and locations of the Contra Costa County's History Center as well as insights into how the society has evolved into the group it is today.

The entire video lasts about 85 minutes, and DVD copies are available through the History Center. For viewing here, we have cut the video into 6 parts, each part lasting from 12 to 15 minutes long. You can click on the thumbnails below to watch any or all of the parts.

Part 1 - In the beginning


Part 2 - Organizing the History Center


Part 3 - Getting publicity in the newspapers


Part 4 - Moving to Hilson's in Martinez


Part 5 - Contributions of early volunteers


Part 6 - Outreach


A Celebration of Rosie the Riveter: A visit to the White House

In 2014, a number of local women who, during World War II, worked at the Richmond Ship Yards, went on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington, D.C. These real-life "Rosies" met with and flirted with Vice President Joe Biden, who helped to arrange the trip. They even received a visit during their meeting from President Obama.

This collage of photos and TV screen captures, set to music of the era, was compiled by the Pinole Historical Societya and was generously made available to the CCCHS for displaying to the public.

A Pioneer Woman's Life & Death on the Wild Contra Costa Frontier

The true experience of a woman on the 1850's frontier through her personal letters. We hear her struggling to raise a family surrounded by bandits, killers and Indians along with her own approaching death. Women on the frontier have largely been neglected by historians. For our nation and women living on the 19th century American frontier, theirs was a moment in history.

Fages-Crespi Exploration

Bill Mero and Dean McLeod have collaborated on a new video exploring the 1772 exploration of Don Pedro Fages and Father Juan Crespi through today's Contra Costa County, with its easternmost camp in what is now Bay Point.

The Great Byron Train Wreck

This video explores the great Byron train disaster of December, 1902. Titled "Steam, Steel and Blood," it reveals how this tragedy and others led to better national safety standards.

Port Chicago Explosion

Thousands of tons of naval munitions blew up severely damaging Port Chicago and killing hundreds of sailors in July 1944. With the help of several of the Contra Costa historical societies, local students put together a documentary of this tragic event. The video also touches on the racism of the day that influenced this disaster. Doug Harris was the instructor and producer of the video.

Crockett Sugar War

In 1938 the C & H Sugar Refinery in Crockett was the scene of a bloody battle between the AFL and the CIO. The lengthy CIO strike and street fight with the AFL was over the validity of the AFL closed shop agreement with C & H. It pitted brother against brother. For the Crockett and the nation, it was a moment in history.

Marsh Biography

A biography of John Marsh, the first American to settle in Contra Costa County. Written by Bill Mero, the video explores Marsh and his family as they moved west and settled in what is now Brentwood.

"California Gold" visits the Marsh House

In 2008, the late Huell Howser of the California Gold TV program visited the John Marsh Stone House which is the center piece of the proposed John Marsh State Historic Park in Contra Costa County. New Native Americans archaeological discoveries near Brentwood, CA and early California history are discussed.

Marsh Historic Park

This documentary discusses the efforts of the John Marsh Trust to convert much of the land surrounding Dr. John Marsh's house into an Historic Park.

Inspecting the Marsh House in 2005

As part of the restoration of the Marsh House in Brentwood, an inspection of the condition of the house was made in July, 2005. That inspection is documented in this video.

Sheriff Veale

Doug Harris published a YouTube video on Sheriff Veale featuring some of our History Center personnel. Hear how the one of the longest serving Sheriffs in California history (1895-1935) kept the peace in a rural county without firing a shot!

James Kirker - Scalp Hunter

James Kirker came from Ireland becoming an infamous scalp hunter in the Southwest. He spent the last years of his life in Contra Costa County, CA and died in California mysteriously on the isolated John Marsh Rancho at Los Meganos.

Gerry Anderson, in a BBC documentary, followed Kirker from his native Ireland here to Contra Costa County. This segment, featuring Bill and Kathleen Mero from the Contra Costa County Historical Society and the John Marsh Trust, talks about Kirker's time in the county. The Historical Society also provided technical support to the makers of this documentary.

It should be noted that, based on records kept by the Society, most of what has been written about James Kirker's life and death in California is either unverifiable or plainly untrue.

The "Last Man Club" of Contra Costa County

Fans of the old TV series "M*A*S*H" may recall an episode where Colonel Potter became the "winner" of a last man's club established by a platoon in which he served during World War I. A number of such "clubs" sprang up among survivors of World War I and subsequent conflicts. One such club was established in Contra Costa County. This video is a compilation of local news stories from Veteran's Day, 1988, when Contra Costa's "Last Man", Albert Furrer, collected his prize.

CCCHS Member Mark Harrigan has developed a series of short videos showcasing the Main Streets of some of the county's cities. The videos are based on photos he has taken intermixed with historical photos taken from the CCCHS archives as well as his own personal collection. Click on the town image to see the entire video.


Alamo is an unincorporated community in Central Contra Costa County. Named for the poplar trees that lined San Ramon Creek, Alamo is located about 30 miles east of San Francisco. As of the 2010 census, the population was 14,750. The community of Alamo is well known for its lavish lifestyle and its notable residents, with the median home price being $1,890,000.

Byron, Knightsen and Bethel Island

Byron is an unincorporated community in Eastern Contra Costa County. Located about 5 miles southeast of Brentwood, the origin of the name is in some dispute. The 2010 census showed the population of Byron to be 1,277. The area is best known for the Byron Hot Springs resort located nearby that was a popular retreat for movie stars and famous athletes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Knightsen is a small unincorporated community of 1,568 residents and 1,500 horses in Eastern Contra Costa County, near Oakley. The community was founded by George W. Knight, and its name is a portmanteau of his last name and his wife (Christina Christensen). Knightsen has the oldest chapter of the 4-H Club in California.

Bethel Island, formerly known as Bethell, Bethell Ranch, Bethel Tract, Sand Mound Ranch and Sand Mound Tract, is a census-designated place (CDP) in Eastern Contra Costa County. The population was 2,137 at the 2010 census.


The Town of Danville is located in the San Ramon Valley in Contra Costa County. It is one of the incorporated municipalities in California that uses "town" in its name instead of "city". The population was 42,039 as of the 2010 census.

Diablo Country Club

Located in the unincorporated area of Diablo east-northeast of Danville, the Diablo Country Club was built by Robert Noble Burgess in 1914 at the foot of Mt. Diablo, which he owned at the time. His golf course utilizes the natural valleys, grassy hollows and centuries old oak trees as natural hazards, and was designed by two world-reknown course designers, Jack Neville and William Watson.

The Contra Costa County Historical Society was honored to host its 2016 Annual Meeting at the venue.

Marsh Creek Springs

Old Marsh Creek Springs is a 2 block by 8 block park located along Marsh Creek Road in Clayton.


Martinez, the county seat for Contra Costa County, is located along the southern shore of the Carquinez Straits. The population was 35,824 at the 2010 census. It is named for Ygnacio Martinez, whose Mexican land grant, Rancho El Pinole included the Alhambra Valley area where the city now stands. Martinez was the home of naturalist John Muir from 1880 until his death in 1914. He was buried about a mile south of the building that is now the John Muir National Historic Site. While the house itself has been open to the public for many years, the burial location of Muir and his wife were only recently made available on a limited basis to the public.

Pleasant Hill

Incorporated in 1961, Pleasant Hill is a city in Central Contra Costa County, bordered by Walnut Creek to the south and Concord to the north and east. The population was 33,152 at the 2010 census. Monument Boulevard was named after the Soldiers Memorial Monument to commemorate soldiers of World War I. It was erected on December 11, 1927 and depicts one black and three white soldiers. It is 45 feet tall, constructed of formed concrete, and weighs 150 tons. In 1954 the monument was moved to its current site at Boyd Road and Contra Costa Boulevard to make way for upcoming highway construction.


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