A traditional urban neighborhood park
(watered and mowed grass)
Open space through which runs a 1.25-mile
This path is shared by bicycle riders,
and people walking their dogs and cats (yes, cats).
Residents of the Barron Park neighborhood
take a very active role in the care of the park.
This proprietary attitude is a consequence of the origins of
The park was created before the Barron Park neighborhood
became part of the City of Palo Alto,
partially through a donation as a memorial to
a prominent and beloved resident,
and partially through a tax the neighborhood levied on itself
(for details, follow the links in 1 and 2 above).
Indian artifacts found on the Veterans Hospital
indicate significant usage,
although the site may have been less than a permanent village.
Matadero means place of slaughter/killing
During the Mission era, this was a site for butchering cattle.
Historically, Matadero Creek has had year-round flow,
although in the later stages of the drought that began in
the creek went dry (except for various pools) in the summer.
Presumably, this is why it was used as a center of
activity for the old ranches.
Mature tree cover:
In the one-mile segment within the Barron Park neighborhood,
the creek is lined with mature trees,
primarily Coast Live Oaks and Coast Redwoods.
It is fully shaded for virtually all of its path through
Little of the creek bed is publicly owned, except in the park.
Property lines come to the middle of the creek.
Some of the summer water flow comes from ground water.
A geologic fold pushes the water table to
above the level of the creek in the Bol Park area.
This pathway led to the spread of pollution from the
Hillview-Porter site (in the adjacent industrial park):
the pollution moved through the water table which
then deposited it into the creek,
and then after flowing down the creek,
it percolated back into the ground water.
This produced a faster and wider spread of that pollution
than if it had simply moved through the ground.
The ongoing cleanup program (**future pointer to ToxSafe**)
has arrested the spread of this pollution,
and is reducing it in the ground water.
The assessment of the experts is that the current location
of this pollution is far enough down in the water table
as to not affect the residents of the neighborhood.
In the 1800's, the Baylands marshes began
somewhere between Alma and El Camino Real
(this accounts for flooding patterns) --
Matadero Creek entered the Baylands less than
500 yards from where the natural segment now ends.
"Old-timers" claim that
they had duck-hunting blinds
where Middlefield Road now is.
Now, there is 2-miles of concrete culvert below the
Barron Park neighborhood (until the creek enters
the Baylands marshes).
There is a short segment in the industrial park
above the neighborhood
where the creek passes through an underground
Above that, the creek returns to
a native riparian environment.
Previous known as Dry Creek
(as were many other creeks in this region).
It rises quickly during a rainstorm,
and drops quickly even before the trailing edge of the storm
has passed through.
Although Barron Creek flows for only a small fraction of the
year, the influence of that water can be seen in the
vegetation along its course.
In the 1950's, the residents built a settlement basin
where the creek crosses the Bol Park bike path
(near Gunn High School)
as a flood-control measure.
It provides very limited capacity to store excess flows,
but its primary purpose was to remove the debris
that would choke/dam the narrow creek channel
as it passed through the neighborhood.
Because of the build-up of debris and residual water,
the basin takes on the character of a seasonal wetland.
Goes into an underground channel at Laguna Avenue and
follows Los Robles Avenue.
Previous course: open to dispute
Maps from the 1800's seem to show Barron Creek flowing along
what is now La Donna Avenue to join Matadero Creek
(explaining another flooding patterns).
However, some people claim that this was the natural
overflow channel for the creek during big storms,
and the main channel followed roughly the current path.
Both could be right:
It would not be unusual for a creek that rises quickly
to be cutting new channels:
the debris it carries could from time to time create dams
and other blockages that would greatly accelerate the
well-known tendency of streams and rivers to modify their
Barron Creek may have split
into several, or even many, small meandering channels,
beginning about where it comes out of the Gunn High School
This is supported by aerial photos showing lines
of ancient oak trees diverging almost like spokes from a wheel
from the point of the culvert entrance today.
At least one of these channels probably went roughly
along the line of Los Robles from Laguna to El Camino.
That was the line selected by Edward Barron's farm manager
That is the approximate date when Barron Creek was channelized
in a straight line from Laguna to El Camino,
exactly where the buried culvert runs today.
The channel was converted to a pipe culvert about 1961,
after several very annoying flood events.
The only strong documentary source for Barron Creek
flowing into Matadero Creek is
the 1904 (?) US Geological Survey Topological map
and it cannot be considered an unimpeachable source -
maybe not even a credible one - as it displays
numerous (other) errors.
In spite of all this, however, the course of the greatest flow
of water in the 1983 flood indicates that at least
a sizeable channel probably did empty into Matadero Creek
right where the USGS map shows it.
Roble Ridge: this is the section at the top of Matadero Avenue
(west of Laguna Avenue and Bol Park).
Lots here have a minimum size of one acre.
There are orchards, meadows and small wood lots
on the plots in this neighborhood.
still rural feel
many mature trees (oak, redwood, + range of other native
and non-native species)
many lots are NOT "built-out" to the limits,
but still have substantial vegetation.
Version Info: $Revision: 1.11 $ $Date: 2002/10/09 07:32:26 $
Copyright 1997 by the Barron Park Association
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