This kind of question is difficult to answer...
The Challenge was: "Why is the Carquinez Strait so undeveloped on the south side of the channel?"
I noticed that while there's a lot of development (houses, shopping centers, etc.) on the north side of the strait, there's very little on the south side.
1. Can you figure out what's going on in this stretch of otherwise unused coastline? Is it really the "Lost Coast" of the North Bay? Why so... empty? What didn't happened here?
Here, a couple of place names leap to the fore: "Port Costa" "Crockett Hills" (a regional park), and "Carquinez Straits" (another regional park), "Martinez." If you zoom in a bit more, you'll also see "Bull Valley" and "Eckley" as other place names of interest.
|Plat of the rancho, 1866.|
On this plat you can see a note marking "Ramon Estudillo's home" in the upper left, as well as "Big Bull Valley" and "Little Bull Valley." These names might come in handy later, so I write them down on my notes.
|Rancho Cañada del Hambre (1894) per Wikipedia, USGS Karquinez Quad.|
|Rancho Cañada del Hambre (1898) Theodore Wagner and company. Here you can see major divisions of the land, in some cases showing who bought them, such as "McNear" in the lower right.|
|A map from eBay, published by Chevron in 1970. It shows a large, still undeveloped section of Contra Costa county south of Crockett and Port Costa, west of Martinez, and east of Rodeo.|
|Another map of the area from 1990, published by Gousha, again showing a blank space. |
Sorry this is so low res--it's the best I could find--but it's convincingly empty.
You can clearly see Port Costa at the top. It's a small village, and if it shows up on the map,
then other villages in the blank space would have ALSO appeared... and they don't.
|Current (2021) land use map of north Contra Costa county. Here, blue is public/semi-public lands (such as highway right-of-way), while green is parkland/preserves. The pea-soup green is marked as "agricultural" land. P/C Contra Costa County.|
|Contra Costa Gazette, May 24, 1907|
|George McNear mortgaged 3866 acres (his part of the Rancho) to raise some quick cash.|
And of course, by 1916, the Rancho was largely up for sale.
And if you keep searching, you'll find the sales, transfers, and gifts that were made over the years. 200 acres here, 159 there--but always as unimproved land on the margin of the main rancho.
|You can see that in Wikimapia's view, the rancho is either parkland, ag land, or John A De Martini land, still held as a ranch.|