Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial is the 3rd Least Visited National Park in the United States

May 2, 2013 14:19 pm · 56 comments




The Port Chicago National Memorial, which is located just outside of Concord on the grounds of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, is the third least visited National Park/Memorial in the Country, according to the L.A. Times.

The memorial, built near the site of the munitions explosion that killed 320 sailors & civilians in 1944, ranks only behind the closed Washington Monument (closed in 2011 due to earthquake damage) and Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve in remote southern Alaska, which had just 19 visitors last year.

In 2012, Port Chicago National Memorial saw just over 500 visitors.

Public access to the Memorial is through two week advance reservation only, Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays (allow 1½ hours).

No access Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and during Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTCO) operations.

Call 925-228-8860 for more information.

anon May 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM

I didn’t even know it was there!

Winston May 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM

I bet they would get more visitors if you didn’t have to provide the government two weeks advance notice to be allowed to visit. But only if you can visit on Thursday, Friday or Saturday

Mrs Kravitz May 2, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Directions? I want to visit it.

warren May 2, 2013 at 2:26 PM

So if it wasn’t for the earthquake( washington monument) Port Chicago would be second to last

KJ May 2, 2013 at 2:26 PM

I knew what happened there, but I didn’t know there was a memorial, or that you were even allowed on the CNWS. So, it doesn’t surprise me that there have been few visitors.

Okay May 2, 2013 at 2:27 PM

How do you get to it?

aaa May 2, 2013 at 2:28 PM
lilolme May 2, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Public access to the Memorial is through two week advance reservation only,
Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays (allow 1½ hours).

No access Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and during Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTCO) operations.

Call (925) 228-8860 for more information.

NO wonder why there were so few visitors!

Chuckie the Troll May 2, 2013 at 2:29 PM

If you build it, they still won’t come.

aannoonn May 2, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Okay….had absolutely NO idea that it even existed!!! I do feel for the families of those who were killed. Might have been a long time ago, but the memories still linger, I’m sure……………

nytemuvr May 2, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Tried fishing there many times over the years. So much wreckage on the bottom it’s not a good fishing spot. Lots of fish though. They used to run you off from there fishing. Would like to see it, but it used to be closed for 500 ft. around that area in a boat.

Just saying May 2, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Who knew? Lack of signage, just how does one get there. Do you have to sign in like you do at Travis AFB?

Trolo May 2, 2013 at 2:34 PM

What a sham. They set a memorial that no one can see, nor would want to with all the red tape involved.

Anon May 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Can they make it any harder to visit! Maybe it is a racial thing! Where is the NAACP on this!

Russ Shackleford May 2, 2013 at 2:53 PM

This is the kind of bureaucratic bulls#*t they’ll use next time something else historical needs money to be built too. “Well, we spent all this money on Port Chicago and no one goes there!”. Well no s#*t! You have to make a damn appointment to go visit the thing, and you can only go on one day that is truly convenient to the majority of people (Saturday). And honestly, as nice as it looks, an hour and a half for that? If I’m going to spend an hour and a half and make advance reservations, I can think of a lot of other parks I can go to that don’t need me to make a reservation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important piece of history, but the money was wasted if they expected more visitors.

Camilia H. May 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

I’ve lived in Concord all of my life and still have no clue where this is…Does Concord government even want visitors? If so, they should think about marketing it and making it accessible.

jtkatec May 2, 2013 at 2:59 PM

I wonder how much money was spent on building this memorial, and then it just sits, alone, unloved, with just the wind whistling through the weeks and the heat of the summer sun baking the paving stones.

How very sad, an un-visited memorial, that only the lizards and cornsnakes explore.

jtkatec May 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

weeds, not weeks. or maybe the wind can whistle throught the weeks.

MSkitty May 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

It was created as a private place to honor those that were killed and their families–but while the military brancehs cannot fund “private” memorials–they can make it very hard to get in to.

Anon2you May 2, 2013 at 3:04 PM

I am going on the second Thursday of next week…

Trevor Quinn May 2, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Why doesn’t the Mayor do something about this? Or Our assigned State Assemblyman? Sad when a SoCal Newspaper has more knowledge of a Bay Area Monument than its Bay Area Residents. Something keeps holding this Memorial back, Why? Is it because its Black?

NPS Supporter May 2, 2013 at 3:09 PM

The Army still uses this location as a transfer depot for munitions they have it under complete control. You are essentially stepping foot onto an active military compound hence the security clearance you need to visit this site and the hours in which you are allowed to view it. Once the Army finally relocates when the base is finally handed back over to the city of Concord then this site will be open without clearance for everyone to enjoy.

Mayor, its a Nat'l MEMORIAL, not a Nat'l Park May 2, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Administered by the National Park Service.

Cowellian May 2, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Camilia H,
I’m pretty sure that Concord isn’t the one making it difficult to get to. It’s a National monument on federal land, surrounded by what used to be the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

KJ May 2, 2013 at 3:12 PM

As a kid, I always wondered why we could go onto the US Army’s base in San Francisco, the Presidio (or any other Army base, for that matter), but weren’t allowed on a Navy or Air Force base.

KT May 2, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I went to their website just to see and it sounds like it’s closed to everyone through July 20th.

MOTCO Army Base Closed to NPS Memorial Tours
Restricted access MOTCO Army base is closed to all visitors planning to see the Port Chicago Naval Magazine NM. Closure dates include: April, May, June and up to the July 20th NPS comemmoration event of the explosion.

carguy1963 May 2, 2013 at 3:21 PM

we had a group of about 7 that signed up and got the OK we showed up ,and the site was closed do to movement of weapons, they did not offer us another tour date or anything, 2 people came from La to visit the site. Not sure if I will go back…..to bad because it has a lot of history here

Dorothy May 2, 2013 at 3:27 PM

So they don’t advertise it to anyone who might even want to know it was there? Don’t advertise the location or how to get there? Don’t open it most days of the week? AND they want advance notice 2 weeks ahead of time then only for 1 1/2 hours at a time? Why did they bother to create it in the first place.

It’s remarkable that they got any visitors at all. Not to mention that it’s ONLY the 3rd least visited memorial.

Julio-Antioch May 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Another one of those asinine government things. Didn’t get into Travis by choice and won’t bother with this one. Too bad.

Em Dubya May 2, 2013 at 3:33 PM

So if they just close this, can we get the White House tours back?

Flamegirl May 2, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Back when I worked on the station, pretty much anyone could go out to the monument. That was mid 90’s pre 911. All you had to do was tell the gate guard that you wanted to go out to the monument. The tug office where I worked was just down the street. The area along the water front of the old weapons station is quite nice. A great place to watch the sun set.

jtkatec May 2, 2013 at 3:51 PM

This may be a “Ask De Saulnier” at his open meeting.

Rob May 2, 2013 at 4:13 PM

1) I had never heard of it.
2) And it takes two weeks advanced notice to visit?

@jtkatec, DeSaulnier is State, not Fed May 2, 2013 at 4:23 PM

State legislators have no jurisdiction over Federal matters.

howard May 2, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Does George Miller read Claycord?

Stu May 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Wow…you even have to be shuttled to the memorial from the Weapon’s Station ID office.

Tod Gomes May 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Had no idea it even existed! Lived here all my life.

Whatever May 2, 2013 at 5:22 PM

I grew up in Port Chicago, before the Navy stole it from the citizens.
My father was in the Marine Corp, and on that night was Sargent of the Guard. He was blown through the guard shack, and the stories he told were just so sad. It was a racial thing on the part of the Navy to see how many bombs each of their ships salors could load. Of course the idiots only had the African Americans loading the ships, and when they refused to go back after the explosion they were court marshalled. Congressman Miller and President Clinton worked very hard for these poor survivors. It ruined so many lives, just for the ships captains to play, disgusting.

GG May 2, 2013 at 5:35 PM

MOTCO Army Base Closed to NPS Memorial Tours
Restricted access MOTCO Army base is closed to all visitors planning to see the Port Chicago Naval Magazine NM. Closure dates include: April, May, June and up to the July 20th NPS comemmoration event of the explosion.

Thank you Sequester….

mamatosix85 May 2, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Exactly Rob. I wonder why no one goes there? Huh?

Port Chicagoan May 2, 2013 at 6:17 PM

It was never intended to have unrestricted access to the Port Chicago Memorial or to encourage any visitation by the public. This memorial was built to appease certain members of the U.S. Congress who have a particular constituency that believes it is the righter of historic wrongs.
Take a look at the following historical questions:
1. Which USN personnel, mostly, were killed in the Port Chicago explosion?
2. What was the ultimate legal disposition of the those involved in the mutiny after the Port Chicago explosion?
3. Who was President of the United States when the Port Chicago Memorial was funded?
4. Where is the Port Chicago Memorial located (and many Claycordians have already pointed this out).
None of this is secret or a mystery, but unless you were paying when these things took place you may have missed the details.
“Look, we’ll give ’em a monument, OK? Now vote with me on . . . .”

Antler May 2, 2013 at 6:52 PM

jtkatec at #18 ~ ~ ~ Something about that phrase makes me feel so terribly sad……”the wind whistling through the weeks…….” Could it be the title for your first novel?

#22 ~ ~ ~ My understanding is that this area is not part of the land over which the City of Concord will have authority…..i.e. we do not get the entire CNWS base.

Re the memorial…….Is there also a building with historic text, pictures, etc? There is a dedicated space given to the CNWS disaster at the “Rosie the Riveter” National Park in Richmond, CA, on the waterfront…..artifacts, books, text….well worth a visit (and is very accessible with a nice restaurant beside it).

Big Al May 2, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Driven out there many time’s. Can not find public access. Dead end roads. WTF.

RaD May 2, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Well for one, I didn’t even know it was there. And two, if they limit the times you can come it makes it a hard place to visit. Even harder if people can’t even find it.

EdiBirsan May 2, 2013 at 9:42 PM

I have been to the Memorial many times both at the anniversary celebration as well as through my maritime work or through RAB committee work. Around the anniversary date of the explosion (July 17, 1944) there is a memorial service that hosts hundreds of people and survivors and their relatives come. There are typically announcements about it in the paper and on the net.

As has been noted the base is an active ammo port and if you follow the city correspondence we have just commented on the remodeling plan for the piers in the base.

It is the only National Memorial inside a restricted area.

I will see if I can info out to Claycord about the official memorial as it comes.

KAD May 2, 2013 at 10:15 PM

I understand that there are plans to build a memorial on the part of the CNWS that will be turned over so the public has access,
Edi can confirm.

Mimi (original) May 2, 2013 at 11:20 PM

Knew there was a monument out there but didn’t know about the visiting hour restrictions or the advance visit notice. Drove out there, tried to figure out if I could gain access without getting shot and finally drive dejectedly away. I would like to visit during the anniversary celebration though so please keep us posted! Thank you!

CatWoman May 2, 2013 at 11:29 PM

It is difficult to get to-it was never meant to have “open public access” in the first place, hence the guards. But it is possible to get to………….

CatWoman May 3, 2013 at 1:18 AM

I really doubt public access will be available….

The Mamba May 3, 2013 at 7:40 AM

If all of us are local and most didn’t even know it existed, and you can only visit with 2 weeks prior notice on 3 days, does it really exist at all?

Anon May 3, 2013 at 8:54 AM

@ GG…really?…you think that 8 days of lost spending is why they keep doing the cuts…it’s totally political…the sequestor f $85 billion is just 2.4% of the US spending this year….stop watching CNN…here’s an interesting fact…Every two years, the federal government loses $85 billion from improper payments to the $555 billion-a-year Medicare program, which is exempt from the sequester. Still think that the sequestor cuts are real?

chevymn2001 May 3, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Had no idea it was even out there

Patricia May 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

I also didn’t know that it existed. I hope someday it is easier to visit and I surely will do so. It was a horrible thing that happened there and people should be aware of it.

Ian May 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

So surprising that its so under-visited! I would have gone years ago, but have no intention of booking weeks in advance.

Terry Kremin May 4, 2013 at 12:07 AM

Have actually mentioned making a satellite memorial on the Galindo house/Masonic temple site at least until a memorial is more accessible. Make the area more of a “history square”.

Other Stu May 4, 2013 at 4:25 AM

Mayor why not pick a Claycord day to visit the site? Can you give them 2 weeks notice for a few thousand people to attend.

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