Posted in History, Home Building, Oakland Tracts

State Rifle Range at Leona Heights

Updated with new map – May 11, 2019

Everyday while taking my kids to school we would pass a street call Rifle Lane. I thought that was a weird name for street. I wondered why? (they named it that), as I do a lot things as I drive around Oakland (or anywhere).

From Google maps – go here to see more of the map

Fast forward a few years later. I was looking up the history of the area I lived in off of Keller Ave. The area is now called the Eastmont Hills (kind of boring). The area goes back to 1925 when the C.P Murdock Company put it on the market and they called it Melrose Highlands. The area is just up the hill from the new Chevrolet Assembly Plant (now Eastmont Town Center). They sold the area as good place to live if you work at the plant.

Oakland Tribune Jul 25, 1925

In my research I came across the following article from July of 1925. The Upper San Leandro filter plant (7700 Greenly Drive) and the State Rifle Range are adjacent to Melrose Highlands. I thought wow there was a rifle range right about where Rifle Lane is now. Solved that one. Well not really but…close.

Maybe now some the smart people who read this blog can help me in figuring out where the range was located. Maybe someone remembers it.

Oakland Tribune Jul 19 1925

From the Oakland Tribune Oct 29, 1929 – Major fire in the Oakland Hills – threatens the rifle range. Map of the fire below –

Oakland Tribune Oct 29, 1929

What I know

The range has been called the following:

  • National Guard rifle Range
  • California National Guard rifle range
  • State Rifle Range at Leona Heights
  • Leona Heights Rifle Range
Oakland Tribune Apr 11, 1917

In 1917 the National Guard rifle range was transferred from Marin County to Leona Heights in Oakland. They had purchased “140 acres of land directly back of the quarry for the purpose”. The land was formally the property of the Realty Syndicate. The range opened in 1920. The location varies. Close to Mills College, 2 miles from Mills College, a the top of Seminary Drive and the back of the Leona Quarry.

San Francisco Examiner Mar 1921

In July 1921 a major fire destroyed most of the range. For more on the fire – Oakland Tribune Jul 04, 1921

Oakland Tribune Jul 04, 1921

It may have also been the location of the stables of the 143rd Field Artillery Regiment. I know there were horse stables there.

Oakland Tribune Mar 10, 1927

The California Guardmans highlighted the rifle range in their Feb-March 1925 issue. You can see it here. From the Military Museum site. “A California National Guard range and local training area located in the Oakland Hills of Alameda County. It may have also been the location of the stables of the 143rd Field Artillery Regiment. The site was developed approximately 1919 and was actively used until at least 1941. The site supported elements of the 143rd Field Artillery, 159th Infantry and 250th Coast Artillery Regiments. The April 1919 edition of The American Rifleman, stated that there were 60 firing points for rifles with targets placed between 200 and 600 yards. There was also a pistol range with 14 firing points. The range was described as one of the finest ranges west of Camp Perry, Ohio.”

Military Museum
Military Museum
From the Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of California – 1921
Oakland Tribune Dec 10, 1923

The End

Author:

I have been an Oakland history buff since going on an Oakland Heritage Alliance Tour of the Fernwood Neighborhood in the Montclair District of Oakland, in the mid-80's. On that tour, I learned that there use to be a train (Sacramento Northern) that ran through Montclair, in the early 1900's and that people lived the area as early as 1860's. I have been hooked ever since. Since then I have spent a lot of time looking into the history of Montclair and I have learned a lot. I feel this will be the best way to get it out of my head and onto paper.

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