Seminary Creek at Mills College

The third creek running through Mills College is Seminary Creek. It gets its name not just from Mills, but from the Beulah Heights district that forms its headwaters. On the 1897 USGS topo map it’s the dashed blue line, signifying an intermittent stream, running due south to East Creek (now named Lion Creek).


Nowadays it’s almost entirely culverted. Not only that, it’s been kidnapped! The Oakland Museum of California’s creek map shows the creek as being redirected away from Lion Creek. Today it runs just north of Seminary Avenue to a channel called East Creek Slough.


What glory the creek still has today is evident only on the Mills College grounds. It ducks between lobes 6 (Maxwell Park) and 7 (Mills) of the Fan next to MacArthur Boulevard, but a close look at the topography suggests that a landslide or earthquake could easily have made it spill to the east of lobe 7 (past the triangle marked “30” on the stream map). Be all that as it may, the creek daylights just where MacArthur curves west.


It then wanders a couple hundred yards through a nice quiet forest, mostly eucalyptus. Other than putting a parking lot over half its course, the college appears to have left Seminary Creek alone.


When it hits MacArthur, at 57th Avenue, Seminary Creek disappears. Here’s the last sight of it, from the MacArthur side. Here’s where the stream got kidnapped.


I’ve taken photos of the creek farther downstream, but it’s a nondescript ditch and now I feel sorry for it. So I’ll spare you.

Interestingly, the old map showed the creek as intermittent, but I’ve never seen it dry even after our three-years drought. As I mentioned about Chimes Creek, I think undergrounding Seminary Creek has kept it from evaporating.

2 Responses to “Seminary Creek at Mills College”

  1. Andrew Says:

    I know I’ve mentioned how the Hayward fault has disturbed the streams that cross it, but I haven’t summarized all the cases in one post. I’m ready to do that when I get around to it.

    I think that the blueschist exposure was carved during the century that the rail line has run through there. Before that, the little creek would have spilled straight down from Reinhardt/Davenport/Fair Avenues onto the flat where the president’s house is.

  2. artisancrafts Says:

    Thanks Andrew! I love taking friends for walks and acting like a complete know it all!

    Looking at the map along Highway 13, I see that many of the watersheds in the hills take serious jogs when they hit the fault. I’m not sure if you’ve discussed this before, but what does it signify? Also, that blueschist bed at Mills doesn’t seem to be in any historical location for the stream bed that seems to have worn it down. Could it be the result of a Creek made defunct by prehistoric earth movement? I live on Pierson St above Mills, and it’s hard to see the lay of the land (especially at the 13/580 Junction.)
    Thanks again for your help

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