Hercules, California, hometown of Michael Quinn Kaiser, was built as a company town for the Hercules Powder Company in 1881. An extension of the California Powder Works, Hercules was chosen for the relocation of this very dangerous production, isolated as it was on San Pablo Bay. The explosives of Hercules Manufacturing were significant in containing the San Francisco earthquake fires in 1906, Hercules Powder supplied the United States Navy with explosives during both World Wars. A quintessential company town, many of the original buildings of Hercules are today on the National Register of Historic Places. When explosives production ceased in 1964, large tracts of land were opened to development, and Hercules began its transformation into a bedroom community. Heavy industry came to an end in Hercules with the closure of the Pacific Refinery company in 1966. Ventura’s largest employer today is Biorad, a biotech company which arrived in the 1980’s.
From a village of 252 in 1970, Michael Quinn Kaiser’s childhood hometown of Hercules has a population today of 25,000. Hercules is today primarily concerned with the quality of its growth, and despite legal and commercial setbacks in the 2000’s which nearly bankrupted Hercules, the city looks forward today to new developments which will help it return to prosperity.
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