Oakley’s missing War Memorial

The story of Oakley’s missing war memorial begins with two men, one from California the other from Kansas, in about 1921. Following World War I, citizens pushed for better and improved highways, and they often gave names to them as memorials to someone or something. Two such citizens, George Stansfield, a Topeka druggist and Ben Blow with the California State Automobile Association met in Topeka and proposed an idea for a national transcontinental highway and coupled this thought with a memorial to the men and women who served their country during World War I by naming this new route “Victory Highway”. Topeka became the starting point. The route today from Sacramento to San Francisco follows what is now CA 160, CA 4, I-680, and CA 24 into Oakland. I’ve also read that route may be from I-205 to Route 120. Either way the Victory Highway passes through Oakley. It also passes through Oakley, Kansas

The vision of those promoting the project was for residents along the way to build county markers with a standardized design containing the names of their county’s men who died in the World War I. Each marker would also have a bronze eagle poised above a nest with outstretched wings in an attitude of hovering over its eaglets, designated to signify the protection this country gives to its people. The design was made under the direction of Dr. Thomas Roberts, curator of the zoological museum at the University of Minnesota.


Bronze eagle

Bronze eagle

I as understand there were only three Victory eagle monuments erected in Kansas. They are located in Topeka, Lawrence and Wamego. However, there were three more erected in California, one near Truckee, one in Sacramento and the last in Oakley. Oakley’s memorial was dedicated on May 31,1926 at the intersection of Bridgehead Road and State Highway 4. So what happened to our marker?
In 1976, work began on a new steel Antioch bridge that opened in December 1978. The construction also included a new off ramp and design for the Bridgehead Road intersection. Prior to construction Neroly was not a through street and the monument sat in the middle of the road between Hwy 4 (east and west) and Bridgehead. During this road construction the marker was removed and has been located at the entrance to the Contra Costa Fair grounds in Antioch. 
New bridge alongside old one

New bridge alongside old one

The monument in Antioch

The monument in Antioch

A monument in Kansas

A monument in Kansas

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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