Lion Creek (also Leona Creek; formerly Arroyo del Leon or East Creek) is a stream flowing out of the Oakland hills, starting near the Crestmont neighborhood north of Redwood Road. It is joined by Horseshoe Creek at Leona Heights Park, flows through the Mills College campus where it is joined by Chimes Creek, and eventually is joined by Arroyo Viejo in a channel near the coliseum, where it drains to the estuary. As with many creeks in Oakland, Lion Creek runs through culverts in more places than it is above ground.
Leona Creek's headwater catchment drains an area of serpentine rock and a large body of iron-rich former lavas; the area has supported various mining activities since prehistory. It is conceivable that the naturally acidic waters from these rocks was part of what made Laundry Farm thrive. The water in one branch of the upper creek has long been a gross orange color with a rotten-egg smell because of run-off from the Leona Heights Sulfur Mine. "Some neighbors describe it as the Love Canal, or the River of Tang." 1 The water is abnormally acidic, leading to high levels of iron oxide minerals and other metals. It is the same kind of acid mine drainage that plagues streams in the Appalachian coal country.
In 2014, a cleanup and encapsulation project of the property reduced the runoff into the creek. 1
Links and References
- Oakland's Leona Creek to lose odd orange hue after cleanup SFGate February 22, 2014
Sulfur Mine Creek on Oakland Geology
Lion Creek restoration on Oakland Geology