Hamilton

From Wetlands to Planes and Back Again

Marin Conservation League's 7th Walk Into History on Feb. 12, 2011, featured Hamilton. More than fifty people hiked to the top of Reservoir Hill, back down and along the levee for a comprehensive overview of the story behind the transition from airfield to community, an overview of the Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project and the area during the war years. The walk was led by Novato resident and MCL activist Gail Wilhelm; civil engineer Tony Williams, who has worked in various stages of the wetlands project; and docents from the Hamilton History Museum.

Click here for an expanded version of MCL's History of Hamilton: From Wetlands to Planes and Back Again.


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Hamilton Field (later renamed Hamilton Air Force Base) was dedicated May 12, 1935, just a few months after the founding of the Marin Conservation League.  From the initial purchase by the federal government of 776 acres of wetlands that had been diked for agriculture, to the construction of 8,000-foot long runways, to expansion of the land base to 2,183 acres –  Hamilton Field played a major role in World War II as a launching pad for fighter planes and was at one time Marin’s largest employer.  The Army’s withdrawal from the base in 1974 triggered a decades-long saga in the County over the future of the airfield, centering around three issues: whether the air field should be converted to commercial aviation; after that battle was won, how much new residential and commercial development was acceptable; and, later, how the low-lying runways and other subsided lands could be restored in what would become the most ambitious and costliest wetland restoration project in the Bay Area. The Marin Conservation League, its North Marin Unit in particular, was closely involved throughout all aspects of the Hamilton debate.

Hamilton is served by Golden Gate Transit Route 49. Visit walkbikemarin.org, transitandtrails.org, 511.org, or dial 511 to find out about other alternative transportation and public transit options from your location.

Photo from flickr creative commons/army.arch

pt reyes drakes bay

Drakes Bay Beach
photo by Bob Grace

North Ridge

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MCL's Legacy: An Interactive View of Our Successes