John Vonderlin: A Visit to Pescadero Valley on May 15, 1867

Story from John Vonderlin
Email John ([email protected])
Hi June,
   The OCR version of this story is poor quality, but if you want to post this series (I think I sent you ScreenShots of the other parts) let me know and I’ll do the corrections necessary. Finding this article was not easy as its title was not the same as the latter parts and the Search system leaves a lot to be desired. I just lucked out. I had delusions for a while that Sigma was Mark Twain, but don’t believe so now. Still, I like the guy’s writing style and there is virtually nothing like this from so early in Coastside history. . Enjoy. John— 
SAN FRANCISCO: Wednesday, May 15, ’67. (From An Occasional Correspondent). NO. 1.  Pescadero May 11, 1867   Editors Alta: Rainy winter, balmy and beautiful spring, have passed, and the dry, disagreeable winds of summer, with their clouds of dust, sweep through the streets of San Francisco. For some months to come the worst season of the year has to be endured by those who are compelled perforce to remain in town; while those who think of going away for the summer months naturally ask themselves: Where shall I go? Now, to my mind, the question is easily answered, as it depends entirely upon the feelings and habits, or custom. To those who know the ropes, as the saying is, I need say little, for there are plenty of resorts in our State for the tourist, naturalist or botanist, the invalid or pleasure-seeker, the quiet or the gay, the lover of fashion, those who desire to live a feather-bed life and loaf luxuriously, or those who crave comfort and recreation in tbe good old-fashioned way. Each has his individual tastes, and it requires no advice what direction to take when so many avenues lie open. From the flower-carpeted hills around San Francisco, the shady nooks ard ravines of Contra Costa, the regions of Napa County and the charms of Calistoga. the magical and life-prolonging waters of the Warm Springs, the rolling surf and seas are luxuries of Santa Cruz, the medicinal waters and fashionable life at Saratoga, the wonders of Nature and magnificent scenery at the Yosemite, or the big trees of Mariposa— [l must not forget Newport, whose fame has already reached the Atlantic shores] — to the quiet country, and some retired spot near the sea shore, where the charms of Nature may be enjoyed by day, and the roar of old ocean, heard, as a lullaby, at night; in short, to where rest and recreation may be enjoyed to their full extent—where we may inhale the pure air from the mountains, drink in the fresh ocean breezes, and enjoy Nature in her most agreeable form; to see, think, study, rest and benefit health, and live free and unshackled from the killing restraints of the society of fashionable watering places. Hearing casually of the great charms and attractive resorts of tbe Pescadero Valley, and it being a region yet unvisited by me. besides possessing many inducements to the tourist, I determined to make the trip and satisfy myself by actual observation. At this part of Santa Cruz County has. been but imperfectly known to the travelling public, and  many may desire to know of its many charms, perhaps I may favor your readers with some of my experience, should I deem it of sufficient interest, after a rumble I intend to make through the valley, examining its various resorts and places of interest, dairy farms, agricultural improvements, and look into matters generally, as I am told there is much to see, and seeing will be believing.
How to get there? 
   This is not only a matter of some importance, but will serve of convenience to all who wish to enjoy magnificent scenery, and a day’s ride from the city to the sea shore: those – ” Who love to steal awhile away From every mortal care,” etc. Take the early morning train from the San Jose depot, and a pleasant hour’s ride lands you at San Mateo, where you will find stages in waiting for Half Moon Bay and Pescadero, which latter place you will reach about 8 o’clock P. M., after a pleasant, though, perhaps, to some, a fatiguing journey of four to five hours. The stages are driven by careful and experienced drivers, among whom there is some rivalry, I learn, as there generally is in most all branches of trade. But havng no particular choice at the time, except to get an outside seat by the driver (on purpose to ask questions) I took tbe first which presented itself, which, as I afterwardi learned, belonged to the San Mateo Stage Company, the reins being handled by the veteran driver. John O. Moore. This line carries the Express of Kennedy & Co., connecting with WeIls, Fargo & Co. Express of San Mateo: and without any intimation to partiality whatever, I must say that it was the mosl expert and careful driving I have seen for many a day, which, from the wild and peculiar character of the mountain roads, requires those requisites to make tbe trip not only pleasant but safe.
Scenery, Etc.
    Leaving San Mateo, a drive of five miles, over a pleasant and romantic road, brings the traveller to Crystal Springs. The road is lined on either side, and even extending far back towards the foothills, with dense shrubbery, and varieties of beautiful native trees, sucb at the laurel, oak, sycamore, bay, and groves of tbe beautiful ceanothus, witb its delicate blue flowers; the green turf is covered with patches of wild flowers of every hue and variety, their sweet odor filling tbe air, while tbe warbling of feathered songsters makes, sweet music to tbe ear. Boats. A word or two in regard to the road. It is, like all mountain roads from the city to the sea shore— l may say, like life, it has its ups and downs. Many there are who grumble unceasingly in travelling, because they cannot have all they wish. Such people are “born with a pewter spoon in their mouth;” they want to see the country, but can’t stand a little rough riding, and curse tbeir luck because they are not provided with splendid city equipage, with velvetcushioned seats, on patent springs, ready to glide along smoothly, as if over a macadamized turnpike. Such people, generally, are fools, and they had better stay at home. The ride from San Mateo is a delightful one for over one-half the distance, the only annoyance a little dust, etc.. in some places. Good, comfortable four and six-ho-se Concord coaches and wagons, and the most careful and experienced drivers in the State. If you are only half as good-natured »nd agreeable as they are, who have all the risk, care and fatigue of such a life, you will get along very well, for with a little patience half the trouble ends, and when at your journey’s end, feel doubly repaid at the magnificent scenery you have enjoyed, the cool breezes from the Pacific on the mountain heights, a view of the smiling valley, and the general scenery which meets the eye at every turn ; and last, but not least, know that you are in comfortable quarters at Swanton’s Hotel, with a good home table, plenty to eat, and a desire for a good night’s rest, which you can enjoy all the better if you have an easy conscience.” And here I must close for the present, until I can take a look around the Valley, visiting the different points of interest, for I am told there is much to see, and as I intend to see all I can, I may in my next tell you something about it, but for the present I will take a little rest. I noticed that the Alta, has quite a large circulation all along the road, as well as in this neighborhood, it being the only San Francisco paper I have seen. The driver told me that it was considered by the residents along the road and through the country as quite a home institution. I should think so from the big package distributed. The weather is cool and delightful. Plenty of enjoyment in prospective. The people generally are very pleasant and sociable. Yours truly, Sigma.
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