The Coburn Mystery: Chapter 50

September 12, 1891 and shortly afterward

Nobody was willing to disagree that the barricaded gate to Pebble Beach had been deliberately ripped open and tossed aside. Not the men who tore it down; not the non-participating witnesses; not the man whose men put the barricaded fence/gate up.

J.C. Williamson, who was soon to leave Levy Brothers and open his own popular, long-lived general store called Williamson’s in Pescadero, testified that the deed had been done. “Certainly…,” he told a jury. “That is the only way we had to get through there.”

Straightforward, bold, self-assured. Echoes of the “wild west.”

The oldtimers didn’t like the unfriendly fences, the gates. Loren Coburn reportedly owned some 10,000- acres and the “keep out” signs seemed to multiply. The Pescaderans were horse-riding folk and  Pebble Beach was part of the town.

The county newspaper added: This case of a united people without a dissenting voice, pitted against a grasping, miserly, avaricious money-bags stands without parallel.

That pretty much summed it up.


(Remember, in Loren’s earlier “life” as the 1850s owner of a horse stable in San Francisco’s financial district, he often encountered American lawyers and was privy to conversatons about “controversial” ownership of the old Coastside ranchos, including the land Coburn wanted. In fact, Loren had a head’s up on acquiiring the beautiful South Coast property. He heard about it from one of his clients an attorney.]


You fence tearing down and building up was very serious business. The day after the gate had been ripped apart at Pebble Beach, Loren Coburn sent his men to rebuild it. Charles Pinkham, in his official role as county roadmaster, personally removed the obstructions.

According to witnesses when Coburn told Pinkham to stop, the roadmaster replied that he was only doing his duty.

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