Archive for June, 2011

Oakland stone landmarks: McElroy Fountain

29 June 2011

Oakland has not only rocks, but also stone to admire. The grand McElroy Fountain of Lakeside Park, newly refurbished and 100 years old this year, displays monumental marble to advantage.

mcelroy fountain

Here’s a page from Annalee Allen’s book Oakland about the fountain and its namesake, a Flickr page with some discussion of the project, and a set of closeups of the (wildly misinterpreted) bronze panels by Douglas Tilden around the fountain depicting stages of life.

I didn’t find any information about the stone, but this grade of marble was easily available from domestic and foreign sources in 1911. Oakland was a big stoneworking town with many skilled European craftsmen, a major regional cemetery, a booming construction industry and good freight service by rail and sea.


Suiseki 2011

19 June 2011

This weekend was the 16th annual show by the California Suiseki Society, held at the Lakeside Garden Center. This is what it looked like.


In my amateur opinion, it was a strong show with a lot of variety in its 35–40 stones. Nearly all the entries were from California with a heavy emphasis on the northern Coast Range. The photos below are a few of the stones that impressed me—but there were many more that were too hard to photograph well. Unlike last year, the exhibitors picked a background paper with a color that seemed a little too intrusive to me. But you’ll see how my camera did. I’m not going to comment on the styles of the suiseki because I’d surely botch them. But the rocks themselves are generally familiar stuff, like this dark slate.


I’m always taken with the serpentinite conglomerate of which there are several excellent examples each year.


This blue-green Klamath serpentinite is by Tony Saraceno. I have a nice streamworn boulder of it at That’s not a suiseki, just a specimen.


This one is by Tom Colby. Not everyone filled out their cards, but I like to acknowledge the collectors when I can.


Felix Rivera collected this nice serpentinite. He’s the founder of the society; see his site at where the society’s home page lives.


And Bob & Polly Gould exhibited this exquisitely weathered marble from Southern California. At least, I think it’s marble. Doesn’t matter.


Look for the next show in mid-June 2012, right here in Oakland.

Secret streets

10 June 2011

You’d think that Oakland has erased all of its dirt roads, but one afternoon I found this one, running north after a hairpin turn past the end of Florence Avenue.

florence landvale

Florence ends near a power substation that’s labeled, if I recall it correctly, with the word “Landvale.” Naturally I thought of Landvale Road, the nearly-lost street that has been wiped out by Route 13. Is this the lost south end of Landvale? Or is it a leg of the old Oakland & Antioch Railroad bed that runs through Montclair? If my calf ever heals, I’m heading back here.

UPDATE: I visited the Cal Library’s historic topo maps site and found the road mapped as the railroad grade in 1947, before the Warren Freeway was put in, and shown as the “old railroad grade” in 1959. For now, I guess it’s a decidedly informal walking trail for the neighborhood—certainly a long walk to get there from anywhere else.