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Field Trip to Rancho Los Meganos

Volunteer Tim Karlberg welcomes Oakley 4th graders to the Marsh Creek State Historic Park for a morning of activities.

Volunteer Tim Karlberg welcomes Oakley 4th graders to the Marsh Creek State Historic Park for a morning of activities.


Fourth Graders from Ironhouse Elementary School in Oakley recently visited the Marsh Creek State Historic Park to take part in a new field trip program put on by the Trust.
Created with the help of the East Contra Costa Historical Society and State Park Interpreter Sharon Pederson, the Trust’s “Life on Rancho Los Meganos” is aimed at providing local fourth-graders the kind of hands-on, experiential learning they now get by making a 150-mile round-trip journey to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento.
The program offers three activity stations centered on 1) the work of vaqueros –making rope, throwing lariats, stamping leather; 2) period medicine — a card-like game “diagnosing” illnesses from a list of symptoms, and viewing plants used in 19th Century medicine; and 3) how trade worked in the mid-19th Century — learning how goods got to the rancho from the Far East, and carrying cow hides that were traded for them.
The day wrapped up with a song and dance like those vaqueros used in post-rodeo celebrations.
“The kids loved it, and so did the volunteers who helped out,” said Trust Executive Director Rick Lemyre. “Several kids complained that they didn’t want to leave.”
The Trust is a Cooperating Association for the MCSHP, which is not yet open to the public. By providing some activities at the park, including the field trips, hikes, and community events, the Trust is hoping to raise support for opening the 3,700-acre facility.
“Once people see the potential out here, they’re all in favor of getting regular access to it,”said Lemyre.
The Trust is currently raising funds to build an Interpretive Center in the park so that programming is easier to host. It’s also hoping to provide regular open hours for drop-in park visits.
“This is exactly the kind of thing we’ll be able to do much more easily and often once we’ve completed our Interpretive Center,” Lemyre said. “If you like the idea, please consider making a donation.”
Donations can be made via the PayPal button on this page.

Students try to "diagnose" an illness at Ginny Karlberg's station on 19th Century medicine.

Students try to “diagnose” an illness at Ginny Karlberg’s station on 19th Century medicine.

Kids proved to be good with a rope at Elaine Harmon's lariat-throwing activity.

Kids proved to be good with a rope at Elaine Harmon’s lariat-throwing activity.

Kids got a chance to make a take-home bracelet after Charlene Margesson showed youngsters how rope was made.

Kids got a chance to make a take-home bracelet after Charlene Margesson showed youngsters how rope was made.

Barry Margesson explained how leather tooling was done, and the kids took home leather tags they had marked with their initials.

Barry Margesson explained how leather tooling was done, and the kids took home leather tags they had marked with their initials.

Youth in Government program visits Stone House

Students from Liberty and Heritage High Schools gather in front of the JohnMarshStone House as part of their Yuth In Government program put on by the City of Brentwood and the Brentwood Lions Club.

Students from Liberty and Heritage High Schools gather in front of the JohnMarshStone House as part of their Youth In Government program put on by the City of Brentwood and the Brentwood Lions Club.

As it does every year, in February the Trust was able to make the Marsh Creek State Historic Park and John Marsh’s Stone House a stop for local high school students learning about local government.
“This is a great opportunity for us to talk to our potential future leaders,” said Trust Executive Director Rick Lemyre. “We tell them not only about John Marsh, his Stone House, and the park in general, but also the importance of agencies like the City and State Parks to work together to get things done.”
This year’s presentation included the latest on the Interpretive Center the Trust is working with State Parks to build in front of the house. The Center will help the park and the Trust provide even more educational benefits by serving as a location for fourth-graders to visit for hands-on learning of the kind they now must travel to Sutter’s Fort to get.
The Brentwood Lions Club and the City of Brentwood have put on the Youth in Government program for 11 years. Students from Liberty and Heritage High Schools spend a day touring city facilities, then shadowing city councilpersons, and department heads. The exercise wraps up when the students replace city officials in a mock city council meeting, which was held March 6.