Saturday was an Oakland Heritage Alliance tour called "Key Events in the East Bay Hills", led by Stuart Sweidler. It was focused on changes in Montclair and the Oakland hills, particularly those brought about because of the Sacramento Northern Railway (SNR).
About 35 people (and one dog) met at the Short Line Pocket Park at the corner of Mountain and Thornhill in Montclair. It was an appropriate spot, both because the presence of the berm that formed part of the SNR right of way, but also because of nearby Highway 13 which has factored heavily in the area's history. Just north of us was Fernwood, the former home of Col. Jack Coffee Hays.
We paralleled the berm down Moraga Avenue, which was formerly Canyon Road, past the Montclair Firehouse, to Montclair Park. From the park, more signs of the SNR are visible, including concrete abutments where a railroad bridge spanned Mountain Blvd. A short walk through the village then up the hill took us to the Montclair Railroad Trail, which follows the SNR right of way. Stuart told us more about railroad, and showed numerous pictures of the railroad as well as the surrounding area.
The trail goes all the way to Saroni Drive, where the SNR went through a tunnel to the Moraga side, but we didn't have time to go all the way up. We walked back down the trail, past the end of the paved section, and saw the bridge abutments we'd seen earlier from the other side. We stopped along side Montclair Elementary for some more history and more pictures, then finished outside the library.
One of the things that Stuart has done is to painstakingly find where historic pictures were taken. Se when he handed around a picture of a train, he could authoritatively say "this picture was taken here, looking that way, during this time period". It's an amazing bit of detective work, which he's posting on his web site, the East Bay Hills Project.
- Oakland Heritage Alliance
- East Bay Hills Project website - Stuart Sweidler's website
- Shared Ground - "Temescal Legacies" author Jeff Norman's website
- OaklandWiki - Oakland history and more
More pictures from the tour: