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China Camp State Park: Where past and present live side by side

The Grace Quan sailing on the Bay

A long life, well-lived, can be a gift to many people. Last week, the Bay Area said farewell to Frank Quan, who for 90 years kept his doors open to friends and strangers alike at China Camp State Park.

Frank’s secluded spot on the beach of the San Pablo Bay was staked out by his grandfather in the 1890’s, back when China Camp was one of a few dozen Chinese fishing villages dotting the Bay Area’s shores.

Grace Quan, Frank Quan's mother

The settlement became a State Park in the late-1970s, and Frank’s 'lifelong residency' was written into the park's general plan. He lived out the rest of his life there, in the wooden shacks where he grew up. He lived by himself, but he was hardly ever alone.

JOHN MUIR: An incredible thing about China Camp—Grace grew up in an orphanage—there's this whole sense that I'm just one of many friends of theirs, forever, that've been coming here, building boats, helping them take care of the place. It's super welcoming...it's an orphanage spirit.

Credit Photo by Julie Caine
John Muir and Frank Quan

Crosscurrents San Francisco