The newest state park, to be opened in phases over the next few years, will feature more than 70 miles of trails and plenty of space for archaeology, agriculture and wildlife preservation.
“It’s so wonderful,” said Alexandra Ghiozzi, a board member for the John Marsh Historic Trust. “Great for Brentwood, great for Contra Costa County, great for the state. It’s so close.”
Ghiozzi spoke excitedly of the park as a destination for camping, hiking, school field trips and an up-close experience of California history. She also believes that once the park is fully open, it will garner East County significant income from tourism.
Once safely restored to its original 1856 character, the John Marsh Stone House will serve as the park’s historical education center. Currently undergoing renovation, the house is not yet open to the public. The John Marsh Historic Trust is still seeking a few million dollars to make the house period-appropriate and safe for visitors. And Ghiozzi feels the state park designation could help those efforts.
“The house is an example of sophisticated residential architecture built during the first decade of California statehood,” wrote Steve Musillami, planning division chief of California State Parks, in a press release.
In naming the park, Commissioners had plenty of input. Some contended that it should be called John Marsh Historic State Park, emphasizing the contributions of early California pioneer and physician John Marsh. Others wanted the state park to reflect an even earlier history, that of the Volvone Native American tribe that once called the area home.
There was also speculation that the park would be called Los Meganos State Park, after the name of Marsh’s original land grant.
Caryl Hart, chair of the State Parks Commission, proposed the name Marsh Creek State Park, not only due to Marsh’s contribution to California history, but because Marsh Creek is familiar to locals.
While the area is known for John Marsh and the Volvone tribe, evidence suggests that the park’s roots go far deeper. Archaeologists have unearthed artifacts showing evidence of human habitation dating back more than 7,000 years. The Windmiller Peoples also lived on the site until roughly 4,000 years ago.
Commissioners also declared the area around the house to be known as John Marsh House Historic Zone on all maps and park documents.
“We’re thrilled to work with State Parks,” said Ghiozzi. “There are so many people who have a stake in this park and who will benefit from this park – and we’re happy to be a part of that.”