Red Rock Island

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Red Rock Island
Aerial photograph of Red Rock Island
Red Rock Island is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Red Rock Island
Red Rock Island
Red Rock Island is located in California
Red Rock Island
Red Rock Island
Red Rock Island is located in the United States
Red Rock Island
Red Rock Island
Coordinates37°55′45″N 122°25′51″W / 37.92917°N 122.43083°W / 37.92917; -122.43083Coordinates: 37°55′45″N 122°25′51″W / 37.92917°N 122.43083°W / 37.92917; -122.43083
Total islands1
Area0.0234718 km2 (0.0090625 sq mi)
Highest elevation46 m (151 ft)
CountySan Francisco, Marin and Contra Costa

Red Rock Island (variously known as Moleta,[1] Molate Rock,[2] and Golden Rock[2]) is an uninhabited, 5.8-acre (2.3 ha) island in the San Francisco Bay located just south of the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge.[3] The property is the only privately owned island in San Francisco Bay.[3] The boundaries of three counties – San Francisco, Marin, and Contra Costa – converge on the island.[4] The San Francisco County portion is an incorporated part of the city of San Francisco since it is a consolidated city-county; the Contra Costa portion (most of the island) is incorporated inside the city limits of Richmond.[5]

Abandoned Coast Guard fog bell on southern point of island

The mountain of bright red earth and rock is 500 ft (150 m) across from east to west, 750 ft (230 m) from north to south, and rises out of the bay to a height of 151 ft (46 m).[1] It is surrounded by some of the deepest water in the North Bay, nearly 60 ft (18 m) deep.


Selim E. Woodworth was the first owner and resident of Red Rock Island, where in the 19th century he built a cabin and maintained a hunting preserve.[6][7][8] The island appears, labeled "Molate Island", on an 1850 survey map of the San Francisco Bay area made by Cadwalader Ringgold[9] and an 1854 map of the area by Henry Lange.[10]

The island was once mined for manganese. It was privately purchased in the 1920s. After a series of owners, David Glickman, at the time a San Francisco attorney and part-time real estate buyer, purchased the island in 1964 for US$49,500.[3]

In the 1980s, a plan was proposed (but never implemented) to remove the top half of the island (which would be sold for highway roadbed construction). The island would then be developed with a 10-story hotel and casino, and a yacht harbor on the lee (north) side. Water and power would be provided from lines connected to the San Rafael Bridge.[11]

In June 2007, Glickman, now a gem dealer in Thailand, announced that Red Rock Island was for sale for US$10 million. He had previously attempted to sell the island in 2001, including to the California Department of Fish and Game.[12] No conservation groups or agencies have so far expressed interest in buying the island, though some have considered it.[3]

In early 2012, the island was listed with a realtor at a price of US$5 million.[13][14] As of December 2018, the island was owned by Brock Durning, who refused to say whether it was for sale.[4]

The island is mentioned and described as "Blue Island" in the novel The Circle by Dave Eggers.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Red Rock Island". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  2. ^ a b Gudde, Erwin G. (1949). California Place Names. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 281. OCLC 1197857.
  3. ^ a b c d David Glickman (2007-07-13). "Bay Area Private Island Sold for $10M". Morning Edition (audio/transcript). Interviewed by Renee Montagne. National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  4. ^ a b Placzek, Jessica (27 December 2018). "Is Red Rock Island Really for Sale? It's Not Entirely Clear". KQED. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  5. ^ Scott Shafer (2007-08-21). "Red Rock Island Offers a Spot Off San Francisco" (audio). Morning Edition. National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  6. ^ "The Pacific Historian, Volume 25/26", p. 25, Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  7. ^ "Red Rock Island History", Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  8. ^ "San Francisco Chronicle" Archived 2009-09-18 at, Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  9. ^ Ringgold, Cadwalader; Stuart, Fred D.; Everett, Chas.; Harrison (1850). "General Chart embracing Surveys of the Farallones Entrance to the Bay of San Francisco, Bays of San Francisco and San Pablo, Straits of Carquines and Suisun Bay, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, to the Cities of Sacramento and San Joaquin, California". David Rumsey Map Collection. San Francisco Common Council. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  10. ^ Lange, Henry (1854). "Bai San Francisco und Vereinigung des Sacramento mit dem San Joaquin". David Rumsey Map Collection. George Westermann. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  11. ^ Patrick Totty (December 2002). "11 Islands of San Francisco Bay". The Cultured Traveler. Archived from the original on 2010-05-16. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  12. ^ Mick Elmore (June 19, 2007). "Man in Thailand selling last private island in San Francisco Bay". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  13. ^ "Red Rock Island". Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  14. ^ "Owner drops price for San Francisco Bay Island". Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  15. ^ "Eggers and King". Retrieved 2019-10-06.

External links[edit]