Hays Canyon or sometimes called Jack Hayes Canyon was the area in hills behind Piedmont. It was named for Col. John “Jack” Coffee Hays (1817-1883) who lived in the area from 1856-1883. His estate Fernwood was located approx. where Moraga Avenue, (Hays Canyon Rd.) Hwy 13 and Thornhill Drive (Thorn Road) meet.
Hays (Hayes) Canyon was in the Piedmont District and both the Brooklyn and Oakland Townships.
The main road to the or through the canyon was called the “Hays (Hayes) Canyon Road” which traveled the route of present day Moraga Avenue. According to one article the beginning of Hays Canyon was at Bonita Avenue in Piedmont.
Hays Canyon Road is now known as Moraga Avenue
Hays Canyon is now Montclair.
In 1891, the S.F. Call described Hays Canyon “the romantic valley just beyond the ridge that receives its name from the famousColonel Jack Hays” and “the beautiful home of W. J. Dingee” and the “fine places ofMrs Kohler, Judge E.M Gibson and Mrs. Fields and others.
Colonel John C. Hays – Fernwood
Hays died at home April 22, 1883, at the age of 66. After his death Fernwood was sold to William J. Dingee.
Wm J. Dingee – Fernwood
Dingee built an opulent 19-room Queen-Anne style mansion, and had additional landscaping done with gardens, terraces and waterfalls. He also added such features as a deer park and an elk paddock.
After the Fernwood burned Mrs. Adeline Percy built a modern log cabin on the property. In the 1920s the property was sold and subdivided.
Judge E. M. Gibson – Cote Brilliant
Judge E.M. Gibson owned the property the just beyond Thornhill School. It was latter owned by E.M Boggs. The house burned down in 1910. Dr. Mark Emerson bought the land in the mid-1920s and built a lovely home and lived there until the late 1950s. St John’s Episcopal Church is now there.
J. B. Fields
Joseph B. Fields was born in England. Prior to moving to Hays Canyon he was an Oakland Police officer for 12 years.
He owned 25 acres of farming land next the the property of Judge Gibson. His land was in the general location of Aspinwall Road is today.
She died at her home in Hays Canyon on November 27, 1894. Her funeral was largely attended by the old settlers of the county and was held at her home on November 30, 1894. She is buried at Mountain View Cemetery alongside her husband Andrew and her daughter Louisa (1849-1854) who died at the young age of 5.
Glen Kohler was designed by architects the Samuel and Joseph C. Newsom (Newsom Brothers) in 1885. The residence was 18 rooms, in what was know as the “free style”. At a cost of about $10,000.
I don’t know what happened to Glen Kohler after Mrs. Kohler died. It is possible it was used at a Sanatorium (more on that later).
It is located where Foothill Blvd meets Trask Street and 55th Avenue. 55th Avenue was formally called Central Avenue and Foothill Blvd was often referred to the Scenic Boulevard. Central Terrace also includes Ruth Avenue, Laverne Avenue, El Camille Avenue and Kingsland Avenue. The area now is considered to be an extension of Maxwell Park or the Fairfax District, depending on who you talk to.
Brochure for Central Terrace
The Mutual Realty Company put the Central Terrace Subdivision on sale in April of 1912. The agent was Fred T. Wood, who later took over the project. Later they added the Central Terrace Extension and Scenic Park Knoll
“Central Terrace is surrounded by modern schools and educational institutions of the very highest standard, the John C. Fremont high erected at the cost of $140,000, the Melrose School, the W.P. Frick School and the Lockwood Grammar School and the famous Mills Seminary for young ladies, all are within short walking distance from any part of Central Terrace”
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).
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.
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 waslocated.Maybe someone remembers it.
From the Oakland Tribune Oct 29, 1929 – Major fire in the Oakland Hills – threatens the rifle range. Map of the fire below –
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
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.
It may have also been the location of the stables of the 143rd Field Artillery Regiment. I know there were horse stables there.
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.”
High above the city on Joaquin Miller Road he designed and built a log cabin. He used timber that had been cleared close by.
Hal Boyd loved the outdoors so much so he learned to paint so he could express his love. The log cabin was his studio where he painted. In 1926 he had an exhibit of his art work.
During the day he was employed by the city as as a forest ranger to watch over Sequoia Park (now Joaquin Miller Park).
When his parents Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Parker Boyd lost their home in the Berkeley fire of 1923 he added on to his cabin giving them a place to live. – Oakland Tribune Jan 06, 1926
He worked as a special promotion and production manager for the Woodminster Summer Concert Series during the 1945 season.
Found this article from 1955. It says the cabin was destroyed in a fire. I don’t know if this true or case of the wrong address. 3543 Joaquin Miller Road is the house next door. The cabin is still there.
Sometime in the 1950s he moved to Carmel, CA – He lived there until he passed away in August of 1990.
In 2014 the cabin sold as a “fixer upper” for $260,000. REDFIN.Com