In the lumber mill business, in the 19th century, fires were extremely common, in a single day wiping away buildings and trees and stacks of shingles and railroad ties. A typical example was the burning sawdust pile that destroyed Henry Wurr’s shingle mill on Pescadero Creek.
Wurr rebuilt, only to have another fire, this one undetected for hours as it smoldered on the roof, sweep everything away. This didn’t stop the determined Henry Wurr who started all over again and this time there were no more fires. He also helped rebuild the wrecked chute at Pigeon Point.
The hotel business was hit hard as the fancy Sulphur Springs Hotel, owned by San Francisco businessmen, burned to the ground. Then the Pescadero House was sold. And then Sarah Swanton’s husband, Charles, was determined to have something like Alzheimer’s, and he was moved to the well known sanitarium in Napa. Sarah continued to operate the famous Swanton House on her own but everybody said, with Charles gone, it just wasn’t the same anymore.
In 1885 the county surveyor rode out to the South Coast to lay out a new road near Pigeon Point. (On November 17, 1885, a severe southeast gale blew away the chute and warehouse at Pigeon Point.)
And despite the blinking presence of the new lighthouse, the slim white finger in the sky, there were more shipwrecks. In April 1887 the barque J.W. Seavey went ashore and her shipwrecked sailors passed through Pescadero on their way to San Francisco.