[Note: It’s taking me so long to punch out the chapters of this very long story because my original ms is covered with scribbles, etc. ]
By June Morrall
The stages picked up passengers headed for the Coastside at the San Mateo train station. The typical route closely followed present-day Highway 92. [I say that loosely.] There were stops along the way, marked by drinking establishments, and according to legend, the places where the stage drivers downed whiskey to help them finish the first leg of the trip, the Occidental Hotel in Half Moon Bay–then called Spanishtown because of the large population of Spanish-speaking residents.
In Half Moon Bay, the horses were fed and watered, and the drivers consumed more drink at one of the many saloons in town, before delivering the remaining passengers to Pescadero, and most likely to the Swanton or Pescadero House, both bed & breakfast establishments.
By then, again according to legend, the drivers were pretty high on drink, and raced from Spanishtown to Pescadero, along the still-bucolic Stage Road (which had a different name at the time–for example, the main thoroughfare in Pescadero was called San Gregorio Street, a name changed in the 1970s, I think, and not by the locals.)
Like today, when the stage entered Pescadero from the north a hundred years ago, the first building to come into view was the tall spire of the white Congregational Church, one of the oldest in San Mateo County. (I was always look for it when I take that beautiful, still timeless ride.)
Some of the passengers didn’t stop in Pescadero; they were headed south to Santa Cruz, and the stage took them there three times a week.
Most of the visitors and business people who took the stage from San Mateo to Pescadero were regular folks, who couldn’t afford their own carriages—the “well-heeled” rode over the mountains in fancy horse-drawn vehicles of all kinds. At one time the Swanton House was reputed to be the gathering place for the railroad barons and the silver kings, the very wealthy who lived in San Francisco mansions–with names like Flood, Crocker and McKay.