Good Tunnel Conversation at Duartes Tavern

Story by John Vonderlin (email John: [email protected])

Hi June,

My friend Meg had dinner at Duartes’ in Pescadero last night, and it gave her a chance to talk with some of the oldtimers about the tunnels we’ve been exploring.

The “Pranksters” tunnel was familiar to several folks. As we had suspected, access was from an opening on the top that has now been filled in. One interesting comment was that the tunnel had a sharp turn just before you reached the now plugged opening in the cliff. Thinking about its intended purpose, that is, to serve as a WWII observation post for spotting possible Japanese planes and submarines on the prowl, I now realized it was a good spot for observers to also protect themselves from sudden strafing or shelling.

There wasn’t a clear consensus about the other tunnel just north of Pescadero Beach. That was the tunnel I climbed through, the one with the “topsy- turvy” sign warning of danger, that I wrote about. One person placed it in the next canyon north from where I was. The others were unaware of it. I’m planning to talk with the older rangers, some of whom were possibly working around there when the warning sign was posted.

Meg and I will also try searching the canyon to the north leading to Keldabeach. I’ve examined the 2002 Picture of that area (#6245) on the California Coastal Records Project (CCRP) and seen nothing. However, if you examine the 1972 Picture (#7218055) in the same spot, there is a large parking lot with more then a dozen cars in it beside Highway 1, just above the canyon. There are also trails on the north side of the canyon that don’t seem to lead anywhere, as well as roads all over the tops of the cliffs. It doesn’t seem to take nature long to erase the signs of man around here, as that’s all hidden now.

Finally, we’re hoping to get the part-time caretaker of the Pescadero Cemetery (Mt. Hope) to show us another tunnel just north of Pescadero Beach. It’s a different tunnel, not the one I visited. He remembers seeing it as a youth almost seventy years ago. He thought it was a tunnel constructed as part of the Ocean Shore Railroad, but the oldtimers at Duartes believed it was a tunnel for storing explosives used in the construction of roads.

I’ve attached a photo of a strange little sunken building I photographed some years ago that turned out to be just that, a place for storing road construction materials.

Hopefully, I’ll have some answers by tomorrow night. Enjoy. John Vonderlin

(Photos, L-R: Depression left where tunnel entrance was filled in; Dynamite storage building; Dynamite Storage Building.)


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