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Teaching history at the Stone House and on the road

John Marsh opened the first school in what is now Minnesota at Ft. Snelling, high atop the cliffs along the Mississippi River. This view was created by 19th Century painter John Caspar Wild.

John Marsh opened the first school in what is now Minnesota at Ft. Snelling, high atop the cliffs along the Mississippi River. This view was created by 19th Century painter John Caspar Wild.


Among the other firsts accomplished by John Marsh was establishing the first school in the Northwest Territory. Opened in 1825 at Ft. Snelling on the Mississippi River on what was then the raw, American frontier, the school was established to educate the children of the Army officers stationed there.
Now, with the help of the Brentwood Union School District, the John Marsh Historic Trust is harkening back to the past, working to bring the history of California alive for local 4th graders.
Executive Director Rick Lemyre and former teacher Charlene Margesson met this week with Michael Bowen, the BUSD’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Julie Dooley, Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction, to begin fleshing out an instruction plan taking advantage of the historic Stone House and Marsh Creek State Park. Currently, BUSD students make costly field trips to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento for hands-on California history.
Marsh’s presence in California predates Sutter’s, and he had a huge impact not only the settlement of the West, but California’s quest to join the United States.
“The history right outside the Brentwood and Antioch city limits is rich and diverse,” said Lemyre. “By bringing classes there instead of having them travel for hours up and back to Sacramento not only saves money, but exposes the kids to the culture of the Mexican vaqueros and Native Americans who lived and worked with Marsh right here where they live.”
Plans are being developed for providing experiential learning through activities designed to impart a little of what it was like to live in California during the mid-19th Century. Activities may include making adobe bricks, grinding acorns, dipping candles, throwing a lasso and handling skins and pelts of the animals with which pioneers made their living.
Part of the planning includes taking the show on the road. The Trust is looking into purchasing and outfitting a traveling trailer that can be used both in the park and at local schools and events.
“There are a lot of ways we’d like to tell the story of Marsh and the park,” said Lemyre.”We’d like to set up not only at schools, but at community events, Farmers Markets, and anywhere people gather.”
As the particulars are worked out, the Trust is seeking donations to help put it all together. You can make a tax-deductible contribution by using the Donate button at the top of this page.

The value of parks

An East Bay Regional Park District Economic Forum held March 15 helped quantify the nearly $500 million in benefits provided by its park and trail system. These same types of benefits will accrue in the Marsh Creek State Park once it is opened.

An East Bay Regional Park District Economic Forum held March 15 helped quantify the nearly $500 million in benefits provided by its park and trail system. These same types of benefits will accrue in the Marsh Creek State Park once it is opened.


The East Bay Regional Park District has published a report on the value of parks to the people who use them and the communities that surround them. With parkland abutting the Marsh Creek State Park, and a regional trail that will one day bring hikers, bicyclists and walkers to the doorstep of the Stone House, the findings of the EBRPD report can be used to see the value of its facilities, but also to reveal the kind of benefits the Trust hopes to help bring to our 3,700-acre slice of the park world as well.

Below are the highlights of the report provided by EBRPD. To see the entire report, or to watch a video presentation on its findings, click here.

“The 120,000 acres of the East Bay Regional Park District are more than just a pretty place. There are creeks that provide drinking water, trails to walk and ride that help us live healthy lives, and grasslands that are grazed which support the local food economy. And now we have an independent, scientific report by economists to prove that East Bay Parks are more than just a pretty place.Based on this report, we now know that the Park District:

Hosts 25 million visits a year. This is more than the A’s, Raiders, Warriors, Giants, 49ers, Earthquakes, and Sharks combined.
Provides a range of benefits to residents, businesses, and visitors that total about $500 million annually. This includes the values of recreation, healthcare, property values, and other ecosystem services.
Generates nearly $200 million in regional economic activity every year that would not happen without the District. This includes visitor spending and grant-funded capital investments, and the multiplier effects of both.
What does that translate into? This scientific report conclusively says that the District is interconnected with many aspects of life in the East Bay including infrastructure, jobs, transportation, public health, and housing.

In addition to these benefits, the District is a good investment. Based on our annual budget of $127 million, every $1 yields a return of $4. This means that Alameda and Contra Costa County taxpayers are getting good value for themselves and all residents regardless of background.

This report is the second installment in a longitudinal study by Economic & Planning Systems, Inc, a land use and economics firm based in Oakland. The first report was produced in the year 2000 and was groundbreaking at the time. A lot has changed over the past 17 years. The 2017 report – which you can find on our website at ebparks.org – builds on the 2000 methodology and will add to the national body of research about the economic impact of parks and open spaces.

What does this all mean for you as a resident of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties and as a park user? It means that you can go out and enjoy East Bay Parks knowing that they are more than just pretty places. They are an integral part of life in the East Bay.

For more information, call (510) 544-2008.”