Apparently, back in the 1950’s, engineers were considering building two dams in the San Francisco Bay to create fresh water reservoirs, right in the bay. Luckily, the US Army Corps of Engineers decided it would be a good idea to study the potential impacts that such a huge undertaking might have, both environmentally and economically, on the surrounding communities. So, in 1957, they built the San Francisco Bay-Delta Model, a 1.5 acre, three-dimensional model of the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. Ultimately, the model was proof that damming the bay would be a catastrophe, but the model has since been useful in other ways. Among the many things scientists and engineers have used the model to study since include the movement of pollution and oil spills and the potential impact landfill or other barriers could have on tidal flows. With the advent of computers and computer-based modeling, such a large-scale model is no longer necessary.
Today, the facility has become an educational center, teaching visitors about the natural and cultural history of the San Francisco Bay Watershed. The model simulates tidal flows and currents, providing the opportunity to see a 24-hour tidal cycle in less than fifteen minutes. Visitors may explore the facility on their own, listen to an audio tour, or organize a tour. In addition to seeing the huge model in action, there are also many interactive exhibits that teach about local geography, ecology, hydrology, history, and more. We found the From the Mountains to the Sea exhibit to be a great way to show our five-year-old son how the watershed works, from snowmelt in the Sierras all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Perhaps you’d like to attend a class? Within the next two months, you can find ranger-led programs about the ocean and sea life, the history of the delta, and many other topics. To see a current list of upcoming classes, click here… Calendar.
Visiting with kids? The museum offers a Junior Ranger program, which would be a fun way to explore the museum with children. See details and a booklet download here… US Army Corps of Engineers Junior Ranger Program.
Admission is free!
Here are a few photos from our visit on Saturday….
Interested in going? The Bay Model is located in Sausalito (2100 Bridgeway). Admission is free! For current hours, please visit the website… Hours. For all other information, check out the website.. Bay Model Visitor Center. Pack a picnic lunch… there are plenty of picnic tables in front of the museum with beautiful views of the harbor and bay. Enjoy!