South Coast & Hank Bradley’s Beach Kingdom

Email John Vonderlin ([email protected])

Email Russell Towle ([email protected])

John Vonderlin (JV)

Yes, the jeep road Hank Bradley would access his beach kingdom from still exists. It suffered some damage from the spectacularly high tide/big wave event we had this Spring, but it looks easily repairable. I suspect the old jeep one of his family member uses to this day to patrol the beach is the same one you were talking about. I also believe that jeep road you mentioned he would drive down to access the beach is the same one used by the “Cape Horn/Alligator Rock” travelers to get off the beach, back on top of the bluff, over a century ago.

I think this is so, not only because there is no sign of there ever having been any other road to the beach in this stretch of cliff south to the county line, but it fits the historical evidence. The jeep road is about the same distance from Alligator Rock as Waddell Creek is from Alligator Rock, just as Harvey Mowry’s book description states. (Cape Horn midway in the beach transit stretch) Secondly, the photo on the back of his book, that I’ve attached, shows some of the the Steeles in a buggy crossing the Finney Creek Bridge headed towards the Green Oaks Ranch in 1895. It is Finney Creek, just a few hundred yards north of the jeep road, that is the only waterfall, besides Julia Pfeiffer Falls, that I know of, that drops right into the ocean. (attached photo) Was that so in the 70s? Did Hank ever mention the jeep road’s history?
A pillar of the local community once told me Hank had rescued him from the top of Wilson Falls, just south of the jeep road, when he got stranded there while high on LSD back in the 70s. Did Hank ever tell that story?  Enjoy. John

Russell Towle (RT)

Yes, that makes sense. That little road has the look of an old road. But for a loaded wagon to traverse that beach … I don’t know …maybe if a horse-drawn scraper went over a route at the base of the cliffs and got rid of some of the sand … they wouldn’t have had the benefit of the constant shedding of rock debris from the cliffs above, as they had farther south … those rocks make a viable surface …

It actually begs the question, when the ranchers of Año Nuevo needed tonnage of supplies or farm equipment, how did they get it? Via the ocean? Or via a road or roads?

I don’t recall the LSD story. Maybe it was after my time. I still have a kayak Hank pulled off his beach back then, in 1971 I think. It just washed up empty, with a couple of its wooden ribs broken. We used to idly speculate on who abandoned it, where, under what circumstances. I used to take that kayak into the ocean, but it was scary.

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