Horseshoe Canyon is a small, but dramatic gorge cut into the Oakland hills between Holy Names College, Merritt College and Mills College. The waterway in it is Horseshoe Creek, a branch of Lion (Leona) Creek. Today the canyon is preserved within Leona Heights Park, but in Oakland’s oldest days it was first logged, then mined and quarried. Great stumps remain from the aboriginal San Antonio redwood grove, the mine tailings stain the creek below the old sulfur mine, and the quarry scar sits in the undeveloped scrub at the north end of Merritt College.
This stout concrete structure once braced one of several aerial tramways, whose steel cables carried large buckets of ore and rock from a rail line coming down from the heights to another railhead near the mouth of Horseshoe Creek, in Laundry Farm Canyon. You can visit it by walking down from the Merritt College campus or up from the end of McDonell Avenue near the sulfur mine. This photo was taken in 2003, and the art has undoubtedly been painted over since then with something more contemporary. (click full size)
See more detail about this area’s history in Steven Mix’s History of Laundry Farm Canyon page.