Into the Breach Craft Unseen

STONE: Bilger Quarry, Oakland, CA


Cartographer's note: I have been to the shopping center bordering this former quarry many times and have noticed the body of water at the edge of the parking lot but never gave it a second thought. I had no idea it was so deep or wide. The following accounts give an example of theory and reality colliding in tragedy.

"After land has been exploited for its mineral resources, its mineral potential has normally been completely removed. In the absence of any program for rehabilitation, after mineral extraction is completed, land containing either a mine or quarry will have become unsightly with open holes, piles of waste, and abandoned processing plants, and it may also include safety hazards such as open tunnels or unstable ground. With sufficient funds, an exploited area can be returned to a condition approximating its original appearance, but generally this is too costly to be practical and alternate better uses are available, especially if they have been anticipated and planned for...There is really no way to hide a rock quarry, but with many potential locations available it should be possible to site rock quarries either behind small hills or in areas unsuited for residential or recreational use where the environmental impact would be minimal."1

"Behind the CVS Pharmacy, you can spy a small pond, no more than 600 feet long and maybe one hundred feet wide. But this urban oasis, fed by the Glen Echo stream, is not the natural pond it appears to be. Humans made this hole in the ground."2

"The body of a seven-year-old boy who drowned yesterday in the old Bilger Quarry at the end of McAdam Street off Broadway was recovered this morning after the most intensive 15-hour operation of its kind in Oakland history. The victim of the tragedy was Gary Schaffer, oldest of four children of Mr. and Mrs. George Schaffer, of 4379 1/2 Piedmont Ave."3

1 Edgar H. Bailey and Deborah R. Harden. "Map Showing Mineral Resources of the San Francisco San Francisco Bay Region, California - Present Available and Planning for the Future." Miscellaneous Investigations Series, United States Geological Survey, 1975.
2 Alexis Madrigal. "The Old Bilger Quarry." Oakland Museum of California. Accessed February 28, 2022.
3 Oakland Tribune. "Divers Find Boy's Body in Oakland Quarry 'Lake.'" April 1, 1955.