Into the Breach Craft Unseen

SULFUR: Leona Heights Sulfur Mine, Oakland, CA

Photos: MR/,,

Cartographer's note: I did not know this mine existed until researching this project. It's about nine miles southeast of where I live. The quotations below show consequences of mining downstream and down the timeline, and the interactions with the residential and parkland areas it borders.

"Regulations to ensure minimum environmental damage during mineral extraction should be considered in advance of the operation. Environmental problems vary with the type and location of the deposit, but some to be considered are: destruction of flora and fauna, erosion, flooding, siltation of streams and lakes, disruption of drainage patterns, clogging of ground-water intake areas, other groundwater contamination, surface-water pollution, damage to roads and other property, stimulation of landslides, subsidence or faulting due to removal of fluids, noise, unsightliness, storage of toxic wastes, disposal of bittern, fires, traffic congestion, overloading of access roads, adverse effects on neighboring land values, and other losses or hazards."1

"Some neighbors describe it as the Love Canal, or the River of Tang. Others keep their pets and kids away. Some are so used to it they think it's normal...The creek is awash with sulfuric acid, sometimes at levels comparable to battery acid, leaching from an abandoned pyrite mine near the creek headwaters in the Oakland hills. It flows through Mills College and past Coliseum, and ultimately empties into San Francisco Bay."2

"The property has been privately owned since 2001, but the contamination from the mining means that mitigation work needs to be done before it could be developed; the 2014 SFGate article says it can never be developed. It was apparently a popular place for young people to explore and subsequently need rescuing from after being overcome by fumes. A fence was built in 2003 separating it from nearby public land."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 Carolyn Jones. “Oakland’s Leona Creek to Lose Odd Orange Hue after Cleanup.” SFGATE, February 22, 2014.
3 Oakland Wiki. “Leona Heights Sulfur Mine.” Accessed February 28, 2022.