Redwood Creek (San Mateo County)

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Redwood Creek
Redwood City port aerial view.jpg
Aerial view of the mouth of Redwood Creek on San Francisco Bay at the port of Redwood City, California
Location Map San Francisco Bay Area.png
Red pog.svg
Location of the Redwood Creek estuary in San Francisco Bay
Etymology Spanish language
Country United States
State California
Region San Mateo County
City Redwood City, California
Physical characteristics
SourceArroyo Ojo De Agua
  locationRedwood City
  coordinates 37°27′27.8″N122°15′58.9″W / 37.457722°N 122.266361°W / 37.457722; -122.266361
2nd sourceArroyo Salinas
  location Woodside, California
  coordinates 37°26′35.4″N122°15′39.4″W / 37.443167°N 122.260944°W / 37.443167; -122.260944
Source confluenceRedwoods Embarcadero Creek
  coordinates 37°29′12.8″N122°13′38.3″W / 37.486889°N 122.227306°W / 37.486889; -122.227306
Mouth Redwood Slough
37°31′35.1″N122°11′46.4″W / 37.526417°N 122.196222°W / 37.526417; -122.196222 Coordinates: 37°31′35.1″N122°11′46.4″W / 37.526417°N 122.196222°W / 37.526417; -122.196222 [1]
  average1,370 [2]  cu ft/s (39 m3/s)
  minimum17 cu ft/s (0.48 m3/s)
  maximum14,000 cu ft/s (400 m3/s)
Basin features
  leftArroyo Ojo De Agua
  rightArroyo Salinas

Redwood Creek is a 9.5-mile-long (15.3 km) [3] perennial stream located in San Mateo County, California, United States which discharges into South San Francisco Bay. [1] The Port of Redwood City, the largest deepwater port in South San Francisco Bay, is situated on the east bank of Redwood Creek near its mouth, where the creek becomes a natural deepwater channel.



The creek and city name, the latter first known as Red Woods City (1854), was named because of the nearby coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forest and lumbering industry. [4] In 1851, a deep-water channel that ran inland to what is now Redwood City was discovered off of San Francisco Bay. Named Redwood Creek, this channel was used by the lumber companies to ship wood and logs from the redwood forests in the peninsula hills to San Francisco. A shipbuilding industry emerged, the first schooner was built in 1851 by G.M. Burnham and appropriately named "Redwood." Wooden shipbuilding remained an active industry until the last wooden ship built in Redwood City, called the "Perseverance," was launched in 1883. [5] The shipbuilding industry experienced a revival in 1918 with the building of the first concrete ship in America, the SS Faith . [6]


Redwood Creek begins in the Woodside Glens neighborhood of Woodside, California just south of Interstate 280, below the terminus of Farm Hill Boulevard. It descends below Interstate 280 on the west side of Woodside Road, passing through the Menlo Country Club. At Alameda de las Pulgas it becomes an engineered concrete channel to El Camino Real, where it is briefly daylighted before entering underground culverts in downtown Redwood City. The primary tributary to Redwood Creek is a stream named Arroyo Ojo de Agua which meets it underground at approximately Broadway Street in Redwood City. [7] [8] As it crosses below US Highway 101 it becomes a tidal channel. Extensive mudflats and marsh areas are found along Redwood Creek near its mouth. Several side channel sloughs connect to Redwood Creek, the largest of which is Westpoint Slough.


Redwood Creek and Arroyo Ojo de Agua were fish sampled for steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in 1981, but no trout were found. The historical status of trout in the creek is unknown. [9]

At Stulsaft Park on the Arroyo de Ojo Agua tributary, a population of endangered Fountain Thistle (Cirsium fontinale var. fontinale) was discovered in 2007, and occupies seeps associated with serpentine soils. In Stulsaft Park it is found in an opening in a coffeeberry/bay laurel woodland. The plants may grow 6 feet tall and it is only found in a handful of locations in San Mateo County.

In August, 2018 Grassroots Ecology Assistant Director Junko Bryant led a project with the San Jose Conservation Corps and Redwood City to remove approximately 40 non-native Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) trees from a segment of Redwood Creek in the downtown area near Kaiser Permanente. These palm trees, some over 5 feet in diameter, had overtaken the creek bank and completely obscured public views of the creek. The creek banks have been replanted with native plants, increasing biological diversity and improving visibility for ambulances accessing the hospital. [10]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "Redwood Creek". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. 19 January 1981. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  2. "USGS Gage #11482500 on Redwood Creek, Ca". U.S. Geological Survey . Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  3. U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed 2012-02-11
  4. Bright, William (30 November 1998). 1500 California place names their origin and meaning. University of California Press. p. 123. ISBN   978-0-520-21271-8 . Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  5. "The History of Redwood City". RWC Local History. 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  6. "THREE CONCRETE SHIPS WILL BE CONSTRUCTED AT REDWOOD". The Stanford Daily (9). 12 April 1918. p. 4. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  7. "Arroyo Ojo de Agua". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey.
  8. "Redwood Creek Watershed Map". Oakland Museum. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  9. Leidy, Robert A.; Becker, Gordon S.; Harvey, Brett N. (2005). "Historical Distribution and Current Status of Steelhead/Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in Streams of the San Francisco Estuary, California" (PDF). Oakland, CA: Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration. pp. 146–147. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  10. "Making Way for Restoration in Redwood City". From the Ground Up. Grassroots Ecology. August 1, 2018. Retrieved February 7, 2020.