Byron, Knightsen and Bethel Island are three very small rural communities in East Contra Costa County. Part of the agricultural belt, farms, orchards and ranches sprawl throughout the area. ...
Byron first opened a post office in 1878 and is home to the once well-known Byron Hot Springs, a resort favored by Hollywood luminaries and professional athletes. It closed in 1938, but was leased as a military interrogation camp during World War II. Vasco Caves Regional Preserve is nearby on the eastern slope of Mt. Diablo. Created to preserve wildlife habitats and native flora, it includes Native American Rock art dating back over 10,000 years (visits are by appointment only). Los Vaqueros Reservoir, surrounded by a large recreational area, offers fishing, boating, hiking and many outdoor activities. And the local Campos Family Vineyards event center boasts an award-winning list of wines.
Founded in 1898, Knightsen is a small community whose equestrian population is equal to that of its human population, about 1,500 each. The first buildings, in the 1900s, were part of the Santa Fe Railroad. The Farm Bureau Hall, built in 1922, is still used for local holidays and celebrations. Home to California’s oldest 4-H Club, agriculture flourishes here… apricots, grapes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, alfalfa and more. Nearby Petersen Vineyard, has crafted its now famous Diablo Sunset label, and is part of the up-and-coming Contra Costa wine region. Quaint and friendly, Knightsen offers a delightful respite from urban life.
Bethel Island, a small isle in the Delta, is about six miles east of Antioch. It describes itself as “the heart of the California Delta” with a population just over 2,000. Accessible by bridge, it is a vacation paradise with access to hundreds of miles of waterways. Though small, Bethel Island is home to a variety of restaurants and lounges, waterfront homes, peaceful sloughs and beaches. Numerous fish species thrive in these waters, including black bass, striped bass, catfish, crappie, perch, bullhead, the prehistoric sturgeon and even a steelhead or two. As they like to say, anytime is a good time to experience Bethel Island.
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