Oyster Farms and Oyster Pirates  

Photo of Jack London, 1916During the 1870s and 1880s, oyster farms were numerous in the shallows off Bay Farm Island and in San Leandro Bay. Winant & Co., the Pacific Oyster Co., the Mulford Co., E. Terry & Co., Swanberg & West's Bay Farm Oyster Beds Co., and the Morgan Oyster Co. all maintained commercial oyster beds. The beds were enclosed by fences to keep out predatory stingrays as well as oyster pirates who raided the beds by night. Jack London accompanied the pirates and wrote about his exploits in Tales of the Fish Patrol. Fierce competition between rival companies resulted in theft and vandalism. Armed guards were needed to fend off both pirates and hooligans sent by competitors. Pollution and mud deposits forced the closing of most of the East Bay's oyster farms by 1890.

Woodruff Minor
Historian

Oakland Museum of California Logo  "Walk Along the Water"
  Oakland Museum of California, used with permission.

Explore this Topic:

Alameda on the Half Shell: Farming Oysters in the Island City  by Woodruff Minor - Alameda Magazine

Raid on the Oyster Pirates  by Jack London - Sonoma State University Library Jack London Online Collection

back to history map