This is a history of the Shell Mound Park itself. I welcome improvement, and acknowledge that I do not offer sufficient information about the period before its creation, or its continued history, and invite you to improve it. - MF
Shell Mound Park was a recreation grounds in what is now Emeryville, located next to a massive shellmound, [see Shellmounds - MF] created by millenia of Native Americans1. It was opposite the Oakland Trotting Park. After the land had passed from the ownership of Luis Maria Peralta through a succession of European and American speculators, it came into the ownership of Captain Ludwig Siebe2 in 1879. The Bay Street shopping area is on the former site of Shell Mound Park, and the shellmound itself.
Now let's go out to the Willows, or as afterwards known, Shell Mound Park, at Emeryville. Although it was first known as the Willows when Capt. Siebe took over the park, he changed the name and for this reason: In the park there was a mound and he wanted to build a pavilion on the top of the mound. When the contractors got busy and started to dig for the foundation, they found a lot of oyster and clam shells in the mound; then they discovered that the mound had been an old Indian burial ground; so the captain changed the name to Shell Mound Park. Under the new management the park became very popular, particularly with San Francisco people, for picnics on Sundays as well as week days. Well, the park had everything that was needed for public amusement and good times were always to be had there. There was the target range where all of the crack shots of the state would come and meet and shoot for trophies. Then there would also be turkey shooting, where all you could see of the turkey would be his head,
This 1903 article3 describes the park, and its history:
Shell Mound Park, Great Pleasure Resort.
Pioneer Place of Recreation Which Has Royally Entertained People for Twenty-Five Years.
Emeryville, a suburb of Oakland, enjoys the distinction of possessing the most attractive and best appointed picnic and shooting park on the Pacific coast, known to thousands as Shell Mound Park.
Twenty-four years ago, Captain L. Siebe, a veteran of the civil war, conceived the idea of installing a great pleasure ground for the entertainment of the people of San Francisco and Oakland.
He secured sixteen acres of the choicest land on San Francisco bay for that purpose and, since that time, Captain Siebe's name has been connected with the larger percentage of the pleasurable outdoor events which have taken place in this locality.
The grounds were leased from E. Wiard4, another veteran, and then one of the largest land owners of Emeryville.
From time to time, extensive Improvements have been made with the result that the park to-day stands the peer of anything of its kind on the Pacific coast.
It is in this park that the great third national shooting festival of the United States Schuetzen Bund was held two years ago. The highest target record of the was made there by A. Strecker, who made 384 points in two hundred shots. It was the unanimous opinion of the marksmen who participated in that festival that nowhere in the world is there a park where the climate is so well adapted and where the winds are so little apt to interfere with shooting as at Shell Mound Park.
The Turnfest of the Pacific coast was held at Shell Mound this year, and the Turners in leaving contended that they had never before experienced such excellent accommodations for their gymnastic events as they found in Shell Mound Park.
The Scotch organizations, particularly the Caledonian Club, would not think of having any other place for their annual games. The Caledonia Club first went to Shell Mound for its May-day celebration and annual games in 1884, and has celebrated that event every year at the park since that time.
The Thistle Club5 has held the park for its Fourth of July celebration for the last decade.
Nearly all of the influential societies and orders hold their annual picnics and reunions there.
Frequently there are upwards of 20,000 people in the park, pleasure bent. It would seem that such crowds would, at times, be disorderly, but Captain Siebe has been able throughout all this time to hold the respect of his patrons, and consequently there is seldom a case of disorder reported.
In this respect the captain has proved to be a remarkable man. His records show that. In no park in the United States devoted to pleasure and picnics, has there been so little trouble and violence as at Shell Mound.
The regular target exercises of the principal shooting organizations of San Francisco and Oakland are held at stated times at the park, which contains two of the largest dancing pavilions on the Pacific coast, a race track for games with covered seats to accommodate 5,000 people; turning apparatus, swings, flying horses, bowling alley, a shooting range containing four 50-yard targets, twenty-one 200-yard targets, four 300-yard targets and four 500-yard targets; fruit and ice cream stands, picture gallery, shooting gallery, and a dining room where meals are served to the satisfaction of the public. The dining room is under the personal management of the captain's wife and daughters.
The park is reached from San Francisco via Oakland ferry, Berkeley train, in 30 minutes, every half hour, and from Oakland every few minutes by San Pablo electric street cars.
During the late Schuetzenfest an addition was made to the shooting gallery to accommodate the public in general with seating capacity so that it could watch the shooting and be out of harm's way.
Over 250,000 people have been carried to the park each year on the trains of the S. P. R. R., making the total annual visitors to the park, inclusive of those who come on the street cars, in carriages and on foot, over 350,000.
What was the subsequent history of Shell Mound Park?
Links and References
- THE NATIVE LEGACY OF EMERYVILLE
- Captain Ludwig Siebe obituary Oakland Tribune, 08 Apr 1925, Wed, Page 35
Shell Mound Park, Great Pleasure Resort Oakland Tribune, 04 Nov 1903, Wed, Page 7
- Death of Capt. [Edward] Wiard Oakland Tribune, 11 Feb 1886, Thu, Page 3
- Where did this medal come from? Scottish Thistle Games, Shell Mound Park, July 4th, 1891, L. A. Lamory, 2nd place - The San Francisco Examiner - 05 Jul 1891, Sun - Page 10