August 23: Relive a Very Real Sausalito Science Fiction Story
Date: August 23, 2009
Time: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Place: The Bay Model Visitors Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito CA 94965. Although the address for the Bay Model Visitors Center is on Bridgeway, the building itself is actually located off of Marinship Way, which splits off of Bridgeway just to the south and runs down a small hill to the nuilding. The satellite photo below shows the huge complex, and the map shows how Bridgeway and Marinship Way intersect. Once you've turned onto Marinship Way signs will lead you to parking for the Bay Model Visitor Center. The entrance faces the Bay.
Price: Free, but donations are appreciated
If a guy who was a teacher and theatre producer (and not an engineer or biologist) wanted to build huge dams at both ends of San Francisco Bay to create massive freshwater lakes on either side of a salt water shipping channel, no one would take him seriously, right? And if he wanted to put two broad new highways and rail lines across the Bay atop those big earthen dams, filling marshlands to make more room for buildings, he'd be laughed out of the room, right?
The US Army Corps of Engineers wouldn't have to spend money to build a massive hydraulics-driven model of San Francisco Bay and the Delta to test once and for all whether the plan could work, right?
Ah, but in the heady days after World War II in California the conquest of nature and the propagation of freeways were routine. A teacher and entertainer named John Reber proposed that revolutionary plan for literally moving mountains of earth to dramatically reconfigure San Francisco Bay. The benefits: abundant fresh water, improved regional transportation, more land.
The problems: loss of fisheries, the complete remaking of the Bay eco-system, and environmental chain reactions that were hard to predict.
How does this relate to Sausalito? The Bay Model in Sausalito was in fact constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers to test the Reber Plan, in part because as engineers they had deep concerns about potential damage to the Bay if the State approved the idea. The model played a key role in launching the modern era of respect for San Francisco Bay and foreshadowed the end of "landfill real estate."
Want to hear the whole story? We know the Reber Plan was defeated, but it was a close call. On this guided tour of the Bay Model US Army Corps of Engineers Ranger Linda will fill in the dramatic details.
Google Map Instructions: Use the "+" and "-" buttons to zoom in and out, the arrow keys to scroll the map, and the SAT button to see the satellite view.
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