…The Story of Pigeon Point: The Carrier Pigeon

[Note: I wrote this in 1977]

When the ship Carrier Pigeon vanished into a thick blanket of fog somewhere near Point Ano Nuevo in 1853, Captain Azariah Doane desperately sought to determine his bearings.

Captain Doane little realized then that a strong current was swiftly luring the Carrier Pigeon north toward some six miles of dangerous, rocky shoreline….and despite the captain and his crew’s outward confidence, they probably concealed a shared eerie premonition on this, their maiden voyage from Boston to San Francisco.

They should have paid attention to their inner dialogue because while they thought they were far out at sea–the ship with a figurehead resembling a finely carved gilded pigeon–steadily sailed toward the rugged coastline…closer, closer, closer….

And seconds later, the Carrier Pigeon lurched wildly and the crew reeled forward as the vessel crashed into the claw shaped rocks. Fifteen minutes later, a rush of salt water streamed into the hold, 7 feet high. Half-an-hour later, tremendous waves smashed over the lower deck. The captain and her crew drowned. By dusk, the Carrier Pigeon lay fatally wounded, stranded on a rocky ledge, her bow pointed 500 feet from shore.

The American pioneers who recently settled at nearby Pescadero couldn’t erase the memory of those who drowned from their minds. So when the first shipload of Pescadero-grown potatoes reached San Francisco, someone reported that the cargo arrived from Carrier Pigeon Point. Before long, the name was shortened to Pigeon Point–the place where locals lobbied for a lighthouse on the deceptively beautiful, semi-circular bay.

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