A former U.S. Naval shipyard, Mare Island in Vallejo, California, was the first to receive the news of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

This is just one of a myriad of facts about this historical “island,” which is actually a peninsula, flanked by the Napa River and San Pablo Bay.

Once the largest naval repair facility in the world, Mare Island saw the construction of 16 submarines, 392 ships and the repairs of over 4,000 vessels.

Tiffany stained-glass window, St. Peter’s Chapel, Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif.
Photo: Ian Thompson
Tiffany stained-glass window, St. Peter’s Chapel, Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif.

The shipyard in Vallejo closed in the late 1990s and is now a historic park, welcoming visitors from around the world. Group tours include St. Peter’s Chapel, which has 25 Tiffany stained-glass windows. Guests also can tour the commandant’s mansion, which was built in the early 1900s.

“The museum contains artifacts that date back as early as 1814 through the nuclear era,” said Barbara Davis, Mare Island Museum librarian.

Groups interested in seeing a bit of everything are in luck. A full tour of the island is offered, which includes the mansion, chapel, museum and dry docks. Groups that wish to make an afternoon of this tour can arrange for a catered lunch in advance.

Also on display in the museum are parts of the USS Mariano G. Vallejo ballistic missile submarine, which was built on Mare Island, and was in service from 1966 to 1995.

“We are rebuilding the control room of the sub,” Davis said. “The periscope is installed and is operative. So guests can climb a few small steps, put their eye to the periscope, and see what it looks like from underwater.”

Mare Island Historic Park welcomes groups, with adequate parking for buses and cars.

St. Peter’s Chapel, Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif.
Photo: Ian Thompson
St. Peter’s Chapel, Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif.

The museum has limited hours. Tours should be arranged in advance. Prior arrangements for complete tours and tours of the chapel and mansion also are necessary so guides are available.

For more information, call 707-557-4646 or visit mareislandmuseum.org/tours.

Article by Chelsea Hall