The fire started in the Redwood Road area and raced through to Sequoia Park (Joaquin Miller Park) and down Dimond Canyon and also spread some into Shepard Canyon.
The fire, which began around 7 am on November 13, 1933, swept through the East Oakland Hills, burning a man to death, injuring two others, and destroying at least a dozen homes. It was under control by 2 pm.
The municipal zoo in Sequoia Park (now Joaquin Miller Park) was surrounded by a ring of flames as the fire approached the animal cages. The zookeeper’s we preparing to shoot the animals, the fire stopped just 100 yards from the cages.
‘The Abbey’ is Spared
The flames spread through the homestead of the late Joaquin Miller and destroyed the home of Miller’s late mother, which was occupied his widow, who was 83. Many of her treasures were lost, but she escaped. The historic Abbey was saved!
Shift in Wind
AT 9:20 am, the fire was fast approaching the Sequoia Riding Club at 2923 Mountain Blvd. The stable grooms led the frightened horses through the smoke to safety. A shift in wind saves the stables.
Mrs. Abbie L. Miller widow of Joaquin Miller with her niece
Carmela Ward and a couple of the 60 horses she rescued.
Juanita Miller helping fight the fire
Removing the body of Wm J. La Marr who burned to death
All the was left of one hillside home
Schoolboys who went class to fight the flames along Mountain Blvd
Growing up in Montclair (for me), Thornhill Drive was always just Thornhill Drive. But come to find out it was once called Thorn Road (sometimes Thorne Road). Thornhill is a nicer sounding name than Thorn. But there is a perfectly good reason as to why it was called Thorn Road.
The name goes back to 1856 when a man named Hiram Thorn (Hiram Thorne) built the road at a hefty expense. Thorn’s road brought redwood logs to Oakland out of the vast forest known as the Moraga Redwoods, where he ran a lumber mill on Pinehurst Road. Thorn was later given a franchise to run and collect tolls for the road, it was one of 3 toll roads in Oakland. In 1933 Thorn Road officially became Thornhill Drive.
Since I found out about Thornhill Drive, I have been inquisitive about the names of our city streets. If you are interested, you can read more at the Oakland Local Wiki page Street Names.
Oakland had lots of streets that seemed to be named for tress. Like Acacia Avenue Beech Street, Birch Street, Holly Street, Linden Street, Locust Street, Palmetto Street, Pine Street, Poplar Street, Plymouth Street, Redwood Road, Sequoyah Road, Spruce Street, Walnut Street, and Willow Street. To name a few.
In the Laurel District, there are streets named for the states. The streets are Maine, Vermont, Jersey, Montana, Texas, Ohio (now Dakota) Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas. California and Wisconsin Streets. Maine, Vermont, and Jersey are no longer due to the construction of the MacArthur Freeway. I happen to live on Georgia Street.
In Sequoyah Hills, which located in the Oakland Hills above 580, off of Keller Avenue, directly below Skyline Blvd. The streets are named Hansom, coach, chariot, phaeton, shay, and surrey are varieties of horse-drawn carriages. Better yet, the theme is a pun, considering the wheel-like arrangement of Shay, Phaeton, and Coach streets radiating from Hansom.
In Montclair, there is a group of streets possibly named for early explorers. The streets are Balboa Drive, Cabrillo Drive, Cabot Drive, Drake Drive, Gasper Drive, Magellan Drive, and Mendoza Drive. Another group of streets seems to be named after WW I Generals. They are Liggett Drive, Pershing Drive, Sims Drive, and Wood Drive.
The following is a group of articles by Albert E. Norman from the Oakland Tribune in 1960-1960.
If you have wondered about the name of your street, leave a message below, and I will check it out.