When the old Antioch Bridge was demolished in 1976, a World War I memorial was relocated from Oakley to Antioch to prevent the memorial from being damaged during the work. When the bridge was finished in 1978, the memorial never found its way back to Oakley.
Now, some 30 years later, Oakley officials are on a mission to claim what they say is a key part of the city's history, even though at the time, Oakley was an unincorporated area.
"When you become incorporated, you want to have things that would embrace community," Oakley redevelopment director Barbara Mason said. "This is one of those things."
Mason, along with council members Pat Anderson and Kevin Romick, came together to research and locate the memorial after Mason heard about it from seniors in the community. Months passed before the memorial was located at the entrance of the Contra Costa Fairgrounds in Antioch.
Mason found out about the memorial when looking for old pictures to place around City Hall. From there, she and Anderson tracked its location and found information about the memorial at the historical society in Antioch.
"We knew at one time the (memorial) was here," Anderson said, "but we just didn't know where it was."
The memorial, called the Victory Eagle, is one of six such memorials in the country. The eagles were erected along what was known as the Victory Highway — a transamerican route that stretched from San Francisco to New York City. The route includes state highways 4 and 160.
Mason wants the memorial restored and placed in Civic Center Park, which would be renamed Victory Park. Money to fund the relocation and restoration efforts would come from the city's general fund, Mason said.
"I'm not even sure if people were ever aware that we had (a memorial) here in the past," Romick said. "It would definitely enhance the park. It would make it a travel site."
The memorial was dedicated in East County in 1926, and placed between Highway 4 and Bridgehead Road to commemorate the veterans from east Contra Costa County.
"It was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1926," Mason said, "so we're hoping we get it by Memorial Day of 2009."
The trio's plan to reclaim the memorial was endorsed by county Supervisor Federal Glover after a meeting with Mason in early December, Mason said.
The next step, Glover said, is for the city to approach the Contra Costa fair board with its plans. The board would most likely pass the request to the state Food and Agricultural Department, which handles county land matters. Mason said the request would come before the board sometime next year at the earliest.
County fair manager Lori Mathews said she hadn't had time to review Oakley's request.
Mason said the city is still looking for pictures of the memorial from its previous location. She asked that anyone with photos call her at 925-625-7016.
Reach Jonathan Lockett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-779-7174.