San Leandro Creek is Oakland’s largest watercourse. Before Anthony Chabot dammed its upper reaches and the Bay shore was filled in, the creek was navigable up to East 14th Street. Where you enter the M. L. King Regional Shoreline at Hegenberger Road, San Leandro Creek looks quite capacious.
Today the creek no longer has a lazy, sinuous course but instead runs down a straight ditch to its mouth near the Coliseum. The water looks wholesome, there’s wildlife all around, and the fishing seems to be good. Today’s paper showed men pulling sardines out of the bay here.
An elaborate observation tower offers a view of San Leandro Bay, an unsung body of water between Alameda Island, Bay Farm Island and the mainland. My visit was near high tide; the map shows it as almost all mudflats.
The spear of grassy marshland is Arrowhead Marsh. One story has it that the marsh was created in 1879 when Chabot’s dam construction, accomplished with hydraulic hoses, washed an enormous quantity of sediment down to the Bay. If so, that would be just another item in the long list of damages done to California during early statehood. But just as likely is that it was always there, along with 2000 more acres of marsh stretching across today’s airport and in a wide fringe around San Leandro Bay.
Here’s a view of the creek’s course across the East Oakland flats.