The Old Tunnel (one of them)


The former car tunnel through the Oakland hills had its entrance (or its exit, whichever you prefer) here at the top of Tunnel Road. The road is very popular with bicyclists now, and in the five years since I took these photos new houses have been built and things cleaned up in general.


At the little space in the intersection where the fare gates must have been is this pedestal and plaque. Would love to hear some of the history of this.


And, of course, the rocks. Here we have the Claremont Chert so typical of the northern Oakland hills. I need to visit here again soon, although it’s probably less accessible now.

The other old tunnel is at the top of Shepherd Canyon, where the train used to go.

9 Responses to “The Old Tunnel (one of them)”

  1. Geoff Says:

    Hi there,

    Can you give more specifics on exactly where to find the entrance to the old tunnel? It looks vaguely familar, but I can’t place it exactly and also can’t find it on Google Earth. I’d love to go check it out in person.

    Thanks a ton,

  2. Andrew Says:

    Use Google Maps. Follow Tunnel Road up until it meets Skyline. This is actually the intersection of Tunnel, Old Tunnel and Skyline. Google Maps helpfully has a line representing the tunnel labeled Old Tunnel Road.

  3. Geoff Says:

    Oh yes! I thought that i recognized this spot in person from biking uphill to Skyline. Thanks!

  4. Deitrich Zook Says:

    Great website! The interpretation of history and geology along with the modern pictures is wonderful.

    Is this old tunnel still a tunnel. I am curious what the state of the portals is – filled in, blocked off, fenced off, open, etc.

    Next time I ride up there on my bicycle I will have to look closer, now that I know the exact location of the old tunnel.

  5. Andrew Says:

    To the best of my knowledge, the tunnel has been filled in and wiped out on the Oakland side, and on the Orinda side the entrance is blocked and fenced off. But I have not investigated the actual sites in person myself. Presumably the heart of the tunnel is mostly intact, barring the occasional cave-in and stalactites growing and so on. It would be very dangerous to reopen.

  6. flint Says:

    For convenience sake:

    (and you can see the plaque and mini-monument)

  7. Andrew Says:

    That cobblestone monument is new. What’s the plaque on it say?

  8. flint Says:

    I haven’t been there, but would guess it’s the plaque shown above.

  9. flint Says:

    Nope, I take it back. That plaque looks firmly mounted in the concrete flag pole base. Here’s an article about Kennedy Tunnel and a photo of the new plaque:

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