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KQED's 'Bay Curious' series reveals a ghost town in the middle of the San Francisco Bay

By Time Out San Francisco editors

We can always count on KQED for killer content but the local PBS station's current "Bay Curious" series continues to wow us with interactive and fascinating answers to questions posed by Bay Area locals. 

This week, Bay Curious tackles the curious history of a ghost town located on an island in the San Francisco Bay.

Drawbridge and its few remaining buildings are easy to miss. All that remains of the town today are a few collapsed cabins and barns surrounded by marshlands. The history of those whole built them is nearly forgotten.  

Before the 20th century, if a San Franciscan wanted to bask in the sun of Santa Cruz, the cost was about $40-$900 in today's dollars and a few days travel. Two enterprising businessmen, "Slippery" Jim Fair and Alfred "Hog" Davis, found a way to ferry Santa Cruz-bound travelers to Alameda and then deliver them by train to Santa Cruz, all in a few hours and for a much more reasonable price. To make this plan work, however, Fair and Davis needed to build train tracks across the marshes of the South Bay, including connecting a mile-stretch of island via train tracks. 

Drawbridge, California was born. The small town boomed and became a hot spot for gambling and prostitution. At its peak, the island town was home to 80 or so houses and a bustling hotel, hosting up to 600 visitors on any given weekend. 

When the waters around Drawbridge became a dumping ground for nearby cities' sewage, and the area's wildlife was killed off by pollution, Drawbridge slowly became the ghost town that it is today. The final resident left in 1979 and the only way to see this little slice of Bay Area history today is speeding by on a train. The marshlands are now a wildlife preserve. 

Did you know any of this? We sure didn't. KQED's informative video, radio program, and vintage photos focused on the history of Drawbridge are internet treasures. And just one of many "Bay Curious" pieces answering questions about Sutro Tower and whether or not dinosaurs really roamed the Bay Area (yep). 

If you've got a question you'd like the Bay Curious team to take on, send it to 'em here

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