The Burlington Hotel, one of the oldest operating hotels in California, is a throwback to an exciting era of unruly railroad workers and busy ports.
The Burlington Hotel opened its doors in 1883 at the height of Port Costa’s 15 minutes of fame. Port Costa, California, was a busy town located directly on the Transcontinental railroad, a popular port for the off-loading of wheat. The only thing separating the Burlington Hotel from the deep waters of the Carquinez Strait where the docks (which have since burned; there are still pilings in some places) used to be is a bit of gravel and some railroad tracks. There were businesses built on the docks– boarding houses, saloons, shops–but the Burlington would have been the place “in town” where people who wanted to avoid the riff-raff would have stayed.
In the 1930s, Port Costa went from boom to bust when the Benicia Bridge was built, immediately ending the need for the train ferries that supported the waterfront town. By the early 1960’s, population was down to around 350 people and all that remained was the Burlington, a train station, and a few antique shops scattered here and there. It was during that era that the Burlington was abandoned and slated for demolition.
Then came the infamous Warehouse Cafe which opened across the street and has always had a reputation for rambunctious behavior and strong drink. It has been the cause of many a patron stumbling into the Burlington for a tipsy tryst or a place to sleep it off, obliterating its drinkers since the day it opened and helping to restore the hotel’s lagging business. The Warehouse and Hotel are no longer connected, and the Burlington has a lobby where guests check in. The historic hotel is now being restored, and there is a lovely lobby and a cafe with coffee and fresh baked goodies on the weekends.
Know Before You Go
there is no public transportation into Port Costa. Port Costa and the Burlington can be reached by car from I-80 through the town of Crockett or from Highway 4 via McEwen Road. It can also be reached through the back roads of the canyons by car, bike or motorcycle.