The city of Petaluma purchased this 165-acre ranch along the Petaluma River about 1970 for the purpose of using it as a dredge-spoils site, i.e., a place to dump river mud and its associated river water during periodic dredging of the river. Without dredging the river would rapidly silt-in and no longer be navigable. A levee was built to contain about 80 acres of space for the dredge spoils (mud + water) from dredging and a decant channel was constructed to allow controlled removal of excess water from the pond and channel it to Adobe Creek on the north side of the site. Adobe Creek runs into the river. The decant channel quickly morphed itself biologically into a freshwater marsh while continuing to function as a decant channel. The site operated as a dredge-spoils site, closed to the public for over twenty years thru several dredging cycles. Most of Shollenberger’s water comes from annual rainfall.
In 1995-96 the site was declared a city park, named Shollenberger Park after a retired city director of Parks & Recreation. The levee was upgraded, a parking lot and bathroom built, and the new park opened to the public in 1996.
It has become increasingly popular since its opening in 1996. Now, several hundred people visit it daily: walking the family dog, (which must be on a leash at all times), jogging, or just enjoying nature—especially the many species of birds and other wildlife that can be seen here. The park features a two-mile circular trail and a one-mile cutoff trail across an iron bridge spanning Adobe Creek and running through Alman Marsh to the Petaluma Marina. The one-mile trail from the Petaluma Marina to Shollenberger was completed in 2003.
As an introduction to the park, we have a Virtual Tour and bird lists for you. But to thoroughly enjoy the park, a personal visit is required. Take the tour of Shollenberger Park, clicking on any photograph to enlarge it.