High in the Oakland Hills, with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding cities, is the beautiful 500-acre Joaquin Miller Park.
The Park is home to one of the only urban second-growth redwood groves in existence, as well as miles of trails, odd stone and concrete monuments, and a WPA-era art deco construction that includes pools, cascades, and the Woodminster Amphitheater. Small hand built monuments of concrete and stone sit amongst the rolling hills covered in oak trees and native brush.
These monuments were created by Joaquin Miller aka the “Poet of the Sierras.”
Back in 1886, he built a home and his monuments on property that would later become Joaquin Miller Park.
On the backside of Woodminster Amphitheater are the Woodminster Cascades – a series of stone staircases flanking a meandering man-made waterway that falls 100 feet through a series of reflecting pools. The cascade and theatre were conceived by Juanita Miller, daughter of Joaquin Miller, and were constructed by the Works Progress Administration [WPA] as a memorial to California writers and poets.
The story goes that Miller fell in love with the view at this spot, where John Charles Frémont supposedly stood when he named the view “The Golden Gate.” Sadly, that view today is obscured by overgrown trees that Miller himself most likely planted after first purchasing the property back in 1886.
High relief sculptures are etched into the towering back wall of the amphitheater.
This relief was found far away from the theater, all alone, propped up against a derelict building. Hopefully its weight will discourage theft.
Now on to the monuments. The Browning Monument was created in 1904 by Joaquin Miller to honor his fellow poets, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It is built in the shape of a rook chess piece.
He erected this funeral pyre for his own cremation, however, the city of Oakland dashed those hopes. It’s rumored that a friend of his did indeed scatter his ashes nearby though. RIP J.M.
The Pyramid to Moses was built by Miller in 1892 to symbolize his belief in the Ten Commandments. On a clear day it offers up amazing views of Oakland and the entire bay area.
The pyramid stands about 10 feet tall.
At its base is the inscription: “To Moses” – The poet explains that the world has been very careless about building monuments to the first law-giver, and that he feels that he owes it to Moses that there should be a pyramid to his honor somewhere else other than Egypt.