Blackie, the horse that swam in the Bay

In today’s paper, SF Chronicle “Native Son” columnist Carl Nolte has a nice story about the origins of the name of the upcoming Outside Lands music festival (August 28-30 in GGP). As you may know, Outside Lands is the vintage name for our part of San Francisco. Festival organizers adopted it for the event, now in its second year. Read all about it in Carl’s column.

The column contains several quotes from Woody LaBounty and author Lori Ungaretti, keepers of our neighborhood history via the Western Neighborhoods Project and their excellent Outsidelands.org website.

One of the treasures on their site is a story and video about a horse named Blackie, who on October 1, 1938, attempted to cross San Francisco Bay by swimming from the Marin County side to Crissy Field.

The outsidelands website has the full story on Blackie’s adventure (and also provided the video of the event below). Here’s how it all started:

“In late September 1938, Bill Kyne, of the Bay Meadows race track, was at Roberts-at-the-Beach [a popular restaurant on the Great Highway] and said to owner Shorty Roberts that horses could not swim. Shorty’s response was that his horse Blackie could swim across the Golden Gate. Kyne initially wagered $5,000 that this could not be done. The final wager was $1,000, and the plan was for 12-year-old Blackie to swim from Lime Point in Marin County to San Francisco.

So, did Blackie complete the swim and win the bet? Watch the video to find out!

Sarah B.

Video provided by The San Francisco Media Archive.


  1. Fantastic story. Loved the video commentary.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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