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No. 38: Mar-Apr 1985

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Who built the east bay walls?

Ranging along the hills east of San Francisco Bay are long stretches of walls constructed from closely fitted basalt boulders. Some of these boulders weigh more than a ton. In some places, the walls reach five feet in height and three feet in width. They extend for miles along the hill crests from Berkeley to Milpitas and beyond. Russell Swanson, one of the few persons willing to pursue the walls in the field, estimates that all the walls strung together would run for at least 20 miles. Naturally, time and civilization have destroyed some of the walls, but what remains is most impressive. The searches of property records going back to the Gold Rush and the studies of Spanish mission records give no hints of who built the walls or why. Evidently they are centuries old, possibly prehistoric. Why would anyone build miles of walls from ponderous boulders along miles of ridge crests? They appear to serve no practical purpose.

Scientists seem to show no interest in the walls. One even stated:

"I don't know of anyone who's come up with a credible explanation. I think what you're getting is an indication that there isn't any academic work in it."

(Burress, Charles; "Unraveling the Old Mystery of East Bay Walls," San Francisco Chronicle, December 31, 1984. Cr. R. Swanson.)

Comment. In a recent private communication, Russell Swanson has revealed that the walls are now known to extend as far as San Jose, 50 miles south of Berkeley. Additional mysterious walls are now reported in Marin County across the Bay. It would seem that academics would find plenty of raw material in all this!

Reference. Additional information on the East Bay walls can be found in our Handbook: Ancient Man. Details on this book at: here.

From Science Frontiers #38, MAR-APR 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987