detail of 1909 map 2

[ This is just a start of an entry, but if you have more information about shellmounds in Oakland, please add it here. ]

You may have heard of Shellmound Street in Emeryville, but you may not know about shellmounds in Oakland and the one that gave Shellmound Street its name. They were created by the Ohlone, beginning thousands of years ago and built up over generations. Around the Bay, there were more than 425 shellmounds.

Along with shells of various types, archaeologists excavated more than 700 indigenous graves from Emeryville Shellmound in 1924 when the site was leveled for industrial use. 1

The size and mix of items that comprise the mounds varies from mound to mound, but a 1909 study found one thing they have in common is proximity to a water source. The 1909 study found that over 50% of the contents by weight are shells. 2 with mussel and oyster shells the most common. 3 The Emeryville Shellmound also has clam shells and cockleshells. 4

Jingletown Shellmound

A shellmound was mapped near the site of present-day Dennison Street in 1869. It was the former farm of Capt. E. L. Rodgers in the 1850s and became famous around the state as the Shell Mound Nursery. The area was later subdivided as the Shell Mound Tract, and a Shellmound Street existed there into the 1910s. The site, at Livingston and Embarcadero, is a city-owned lot occupied by a construction company today. See map excerpts.

Site of the Jingletown shellmound, 1869shellmound tract shown on the 1889 Vandercook map

Links and References

1909 map 2

  1. Shellmounds of the Bay Area
  2. Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay Region by N.C. Nelson, University Press, December 1909 [ NB: language warning ]
  3. Composition of California Shellmounds by Edward Winslow Gifford, University Press, February 1916
  4. Emeryville Shellmound on Wikipedia