In 1841, the Bidwell-Bartleson party walked 2,000 miles across deserts, mountain ranges and the broad expanses of the American West to reach the house John Marsh built along the banks of Marsh Creek.

This weekend, visitors will have a much easier time reaching the home of California’s first doctor and Contra Costa’s first American settler, during the second-annual Heritage Day at Marsh Creek State Park, a free event set for this Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will include performances and presentations about the former Native American inhabitants of the area, the pre-statehood California period and the Westward Movement, which was triggered by Marsh’s letters encouraging settlers like Bidwell and Bartelson to come to California.

Educational kids’ activities will include excavating “artifacts” from midden boxes ,located near the site of 7,000-year-old archaeology discovered near the house, and a chance to learn how to throw a lariat like the vaqueros who worked Marsh’s ranch.

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