Take a Hike! A Stroll around ‘Sather Mound’

In order to best appreciate the Sather Mound, strap on your walking shoes and walk its perimeter. As you start, try to imagine a landscape full of oak trees. 

Listen for what the Ohlone may have heard: the music of water flowing from a nearby spring, racing down the creek bed just to the north and lapping the shores of the bay to the south and east. 

Start at Central Avenue and Court Street and walk north to Johnson Avenue. When you cross Santa Clara Avenue, look up and down the street. Santa Clara was cut through the remnants of the mound in 1908. 

The especially telling photograph, shown above taken somewhere along the avenue here shows workers posing for the camera. This shows us how little respect early 20th century Alamedans paid to the Native American presence.

Walk west on Johnson Avenue to Gibbons Drive. Here you would be just alongside the mound. Look up and imagine a “hill” 14 feet high and bigger than a football field and you’ll appreciate the size of this creation. 

This was a sacred place, where the Native Americans buried their dead — 450 bodies were removed from the mound. Merlin says they were all lying on their sides facing the rising sun.
Continue your walk up Gibbons to Central Avenue; then walk down Central back to Court Street. 

If you have time, walk back down Santa Clara Avenue to Lincoln Park and look at the replacement plaque there. 

Daughters of the American Revolution erected the original plaque in 1914 to commemorate the Sather Mound. And if you visit the Alameda Museum, you’ll see some of the artifacts found in the mound.

This originally appeared in Alameda: An Architectural Treasure Chest, available at www.alamedasun.com/bookstore. 

Eric J. Kos    These maps show the site of Alameda’s largest shell mound, called the Sather Mound after the 1860s property owner Peder Sather.