The start of San Leandro

Another man who, in the fall of 1849, gave gold mining a fair shot and was disappointed with his results was Thomas W. Mulford, a handy and adaptable lad from Long Island. He came to San Francisco and along with a few others began hunting the game that then was abundant in the many marshes along the bay near the city and for which there was already a booming demand. In order to navigate the narrow sloughs and shallows the group bought a small ship and several boats and soon began supplying a number of customers, including the Panama steamers, various hotels and restaurants with wild geese, duck, snipe and curlew. While Mulford’s group was certainly not the only one supplying fresh game to the hungry citizens of San Francisco, they were the best organized and for several years they carried on an extensive and profitable trade.

Schooner Alma 1900

In the course of his hunting Mulford settled along the mouth of a slough across the bay in what was then known as Contra Costa County but later became Alameda County. Here he started a farm that occupied his attention during the summers. And when the game along the bay became scarce he got into the hotel business and ran that in conjunction with his farm, but soon sold the hotel to devote more time to growing wheat and barley. After pickle factories and canneries created a demand for cucumbers and tomatoes he planted several hundred acres of each and did well, and eventually employed hundreds of men.

San Francisco Bay, Albert Bierstadt

Meanwhile he improved the ship landing at the mouth of his slough and turned it into a functional embarcadero. This helped greatly with the shipments of his produce across the bay and was long known as Mulford’s Landing. When he learned that the tidelands along the slough were favorable for the cultivation of oysters brought in from the east, he put the time and energy into his own oyster beds until they became as valuable as any in the bay. Mulford also had interest in real estate, mining stocks and politics and it was around his farm that the town of San Leandro grew.




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