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In the early nineteen-hundreds at the corner of Fairmount and San Pablo was the 7 Mile House Saloon operated by John H. Davis, who had opened it in 1879. He lived in the back of the saloon and here his children were raised. In the front of the one story building was a long wooden horse-drinking trough. The front entrance into the saloon was facing San Pablo Avenue near the corner of Fairmount Avenue. Part of the building was the family room where family groups could eat. To the right of the building was a windmill that supplied the water.
This was the stopping off place where the stages would pick up the passengers and water their horses. According to the Contra Costa County History book of 1926, the Pony Express in April of 1860, on its run from St. Joseph, Missouri, was able to complete the end of its run from Martinez to Oakland, which was about twenty-five miles, in one hour and fifty-nine minutes. I would say this was really moving in those days.
Farmers on their way to and from Oakland would stop at the 7 Mile House to eat, drink and chat. Kids would love to go there as Davis would take them in the backroom and let them help themselves to the pickles in the pickle barrel. The building was later sold to Judge William Huber.
At the county line stood the Louis Hagen County Line Saloon which was a two story building with rooms upstairs. Across the street was the Sam Fisher Saloon.
At the corner of Central and San Pablo Avenue, on the southwest corner, stood the big red building known as the "Red House", which consisted of a saloon, rooms to rent, gambling and a restaurant. It was very well known throughout the bay area. This building was remodeled from time to time by the J. Chebotarewich family, with entrance to the saloon at the corner and a separate entrance to the restaurant. It had rooms upstairs and was known as the Six Bells. For years it was run by the Figone family. The building was later called the Bank Club but has since been demolished.
Between Central and Fairmount on the east side of San Pablo, Joe Lager had a shop where he shod horses and the property belonged to Mr. Rust. This location was near where the El Cerrito Theater Building was later located.
There weren't many more buildings along the avenue up to Moeser Lane. Just north of Moeser Lane was the Turtle Saloon run by Mr. Goba where there was dancing and entertainment.
At San Pablo and Burlingame was a roadhouse known as "The Stag" where one could dine, dance, rent rooms and leisurely pass the time of day. This building is now known as the Hillside Hotel at 10701 San Pablo Avenue.
Between Portola Drive and Schmidt Lane was the Thorton combination saloon and grocery store with meeting rooms and dance hall upstairs. North of Thorton was a blacksmith building and shed to park the rigs under.
Just south of Cutting Boulevard was the Louis Gill Saloon which served food and refreshments to the great number of wagon drivers that stopped to water their horses. Near the Gill Saloon was the Marston Saloon on San Pablo Avenue. This was a two-story building with a watering trough nearby.
Some of the other saloons that were in operation in the early days were, The Grand Central, Tony Regalia's Saloon, Stege Transfer Saloon, 12 Mile House, Joe Villalobos' Saloon, Panama Pacific, Paradise Gardens, Miami Club, Danny Sullivan's Saloon, and a number of others.
Copyright Mervin Belfils, October 1975
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