There is always something to learn if you visit a local history museum. Benicia’s Historical Museum held a few more surprises and the city has an amazing list of ‘firsts’.
The first thing that you will notice when entering the beautiful sandstone building is the abundance of camel figurines. In fact the museum is housed in the camel barn. As we learned from the museum’s education director, who led us into the building, this building itself was never used for the camels. Nonetheless, the first and only camel corps, from 1856 to 1866, when the US army ran a camel experiment, were housed nearby. These animals were perfectly suited for the rough climate of the West, but due to political quarrels were auctioned off in Benicia.
And that is just the beginning of fun facts. Benicia’s firsts include the first town to disclose the discovery of gold (1848), first hotel in Solano County (1849), the first public school and the first public hospital in California (1849), the first Masonic hall in CA (1849) and the first girls’ school in California (1852). Notable Benician’s include the first American heavyweight boxing champion, John Heenan (1860) and Jack London, who lived in the town from 1892 to 1895.
The museum exhibits also acknowledge the Patwin, Solano county indigenous people’s history, the shipyards, and the military arsenal which was used to supply several US wars, e.g. the Civil War. A new Gold Rush exhibit is the latest addition to the educational experience.
The Benicia Historical Museum is located at 2060 Camel Rd, in Benicia. Opening hours for a self-guided tour are Wednesday to Fridays 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday to Sundays 1 to 4 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 children, and free for active military.
On March 24th, 2023 you can join the museum for the first annual trivia night. A $30 per person fun 1920s theme party. Or enjoy a band and bar at First Fridays At The Museum, every first Friday of the month, admission varies.
What is your favorite Benician fun fact?