Monday, February 13, 2012

Oakland Urban Paths: Rock and Walk

Saturday morning there was a great turnout for the Oakland Urban Paths "Rock and Walk", led by Oakland geologist and blogger Andrew Alden. Forty people (and two dogs) gathered to learn about four former quarries in Oakland and Piedmont over the course of a 5 mile walk.

To begin the walk we met at the first quarry, which is now the Rockridge Shopping Center. It was the former Bilger quarry, which produced crushed stone for use in construction. One interesting thing is that the neighboring Treadwell estate didn't sell their land to the quarry, but later sold it to the California College of the Arts, which explains why there's an unusually steep hill between the campus at one level and the shopping center below. Another nearby estate became the Claremont Country Club. The Rockridge branch of Glen Echo Creek traverses the country club, and brings most of the water that fills the quarry pit. Read more about the quarry in Andrew's post from a couple years ago.

From there, we walked around the end of Mountain View Cemetery into Piedmont for quarry #2. It's now Dracena Quarry Park, which is tucked away in a man-made canyon between Moraga Avenue and Oakland Avenue. It also was used to produce crushed stone and aggregate for construction. It's a beautiful little park, surrounded with large redwoods and with play structures for kids. But the hillsides have been left in a somewhat unstable condition—fences around the edge keep park users away from the fallen rock at the base of hills. Read more about Dracena Park in Andrew's post.

Then it was a winding walk over to quarry #3, Davie Tennis Stadium. Unfortunately the park was closed because of a furlough day, but Andrew told us some of the history and geology. The Davie Recreation Stadium was a "gift of the Davie family to the children of Oakland and the East Bay" in 1931. John Davie was a five term mayor of Oakland, first in 1895 then again from 1915-1931. William Davie was a treasurer, and Fred Davie a secretary to the mayor. The quarry provided aggregate for the Alameda Macadam Company and later the Piedmont Paving Company for road paving. You can see an aerial photo of the tennis courts at the park in Google maps.

Morcom Rose Garden

From there we walked across Grand Avenue over to quarry #4, the Morcom Rose Garden. Unlike the other three, Andrew hasn't yet found a record of its history as a quarry, but the geological / topographical features strongly indicate that it was. The land was acquired by the city around 1911-1915, but the first rose wasn't planted until 1933, by then former Mayor Frank Morcom.

We cut back across part of Piedmont, crossed Piedmont Avenue, and returned to our starting point. By this point a few people had dropped out (5 miles is a long walk if you're not used to it), but a few of the remaining folks joined Andrew for a brief walk around the shipping center to view the rocks of quarry #1. Another great urban paths walk, with some stairways that were new to me, and some interesting history and geology to learn about along the way.

Lots more pictures:

For more about Saturday's walk, check out Andrew's post about the walk.

more links:


llj said...

Thanks for the recap! I was disappointed I couldn't join the walk (too many things happening at the same time). I've walked around 3 of the 4 quarry sites, but only figured out that the shopping center had been a quarry. Interesting to learn about the others.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Thanks for the virtual tour. I can't do these Saturday walks until April. so this is the next best thing to being there.