BY CHARLES L. TRABERT
IN CONNECTION with his great lumber interests in Oregon and California, C. A. Smith during the summer of 1907
began an investigation of the possible sites on San Francisco and adjacent bays for the establishing of a much
needed manufacturing and distributing plant for his product. Three essentials had to be considered - proximity
to railroad lines for shipment of the forest product, deep water for his vessels that brought the raw product from
the mills, and proper drying conditions for lumber. After much investigation, the Contra Costa County shore and
Suisun Bay was decided upon as most attractive. The present site of Bay Point was then ranch land and tule bog.
Smith, with a companion, went over the district afoot, and in crossing the fields now occupied by the town site
was held up at the point of a gun by one of the owners of the property as a trespasser and ordered off the premises.
Naturally, he complied with such moral suasion.
However, the attractive site and suitable location for his purpose was settled in his mind, and shortly thereafter
he became acquainted with the owners of the property he coveted. On November 26, 1907, a deal was made with the
Cunningham heirs and those of A. H. Neeley, conveying to Smith's interests about fifteen hundred acres and a mile
and a half of tide water frontage, now Bay Point. This land, while originally a part of a Spanish grant, had been
patented to the antecedents of the Cunninghams and Neeleys by General Grant when President of the United States.
On part of this tract was immediately established the Bay Point plant of the C. A. Smith Lumber Company, and a
strip 2658 feet wide on tidewater, extending back to the foothills, was reserved for the town site, officially
designated on the filed plats as "The City of Bay Point." The transcontinental tracks of the Southern
Pacific Company and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company divide the town site into practically two
equal parts. That portion between the railways and the bay was set aside for manufacturing sites, and the portion
between the railroads and the foothills of Monte del Diablo was immediately platted as the town proper, the idea
being to provide a site for the homes of the employees of the C. A. Smith Lumber Company.
At the time of the purchase the property that later became Bay Point consisted of a postoffice, a grain warehouse,
a ranch house, a saloon, and a general store. Before long it began to grow, and today it has a population of about
one thousand people. The town has a ten thousand dollar graded school and a number of excellent stores handling
groceries, meats, drugs, hardware, general merchandise, and in fact everything necessary in a community of this
kind. There are two churches (Congregational and Catholic), with another (Lutheran) about to be built. Here in
the shadow of Monte del Diablo, where rail and water meet, are the neat and happy homes of hundreds of contented
citizens. The Club House and office building of the C. A. Smith Lumber Company are notable for a city of the size.
Streets, curbs, and sidewalks are established and a sewer system is completed.
The water supply is provided by four wells, each one hundred feet deep, located in the foothills one and a half
miles from the town. The water is pumped from these wells to two large tanks upon the hill back of the town. The
bases of the tanks are from seventy to ninety feet higher than the town, and the water is distributed by gravity
at good pressure.
In disposing of the town property, the C. A. Smith Lumber Company put into the deeds a clause forever preventing
the sale of liquor; so Bay Point until recently had no saloons. Owing to the activities of "bootleggers"
and "blind pigs" the liquor question became a serious one to the citizens. After a conference, the company
consented to put a saloon upon its land not included in the liquor restrictions and turn the whole business over
to a club of the citizens of Bay Point as a municipal saloon as soon as it had paid for itself. This was done May
to, 1916. This arrangement makes Bay Point unique in the family of cities, and has brought her much note from political
economists and sociologists the country over. The municipal liquor business is being watched with interest by many
people. In the conveyance of the saloon to the club of citizens provision has been made that all profits from the
business shall be used for the benefit of all the people of Bay Point; and further, that the sale of wines and
liquors shall be conducted in such manner that the cause of temperance will be legitimately promoted. As a result,
the traffic in liquor has been lessened, drunkenness done away with absolutely, and new sidewalks, streets, and
improvements are planned and under way which will make the town a model village at no cost to the taxpayer.
Bay Point is admirable as a manufacturing site, and will undoubtedly in the future be a strong rival of other San
Francisco Bay cities in the manufacture of Pacific Coast products.