May 1867: What Pescadero Looked Like

From John Vonderlin
Email John ([email protected])
Hi June,
    This is Part 4 of Sigma’s travelogue series about his visit to Pescadero in 1867 as printed in “The Daily Alta.” Enjoy. John
SAN FRANCISCO: Thursday, May 30, 1867. SCENERY. _ Pescadero, May 25th, 1867. Daily Alta. All along the sea coast the scenery is very grand and beautiful, and the climate healthy and salubrious. Long lines of undulating hills and narrow gorges, some covered with green and rich foliage, and others composed of huge banks of drifted wind, while at intervals may be seen deep gulches, which open to the sea; some leading to high ledges of rocks, over which the spray dashes in wild splendor; others to pleasant and attractive sand beaches, along which the excursionist may wander for far miles, gathering pebbles at one point. beautiful algae or moss from another, shells and marine curiosities from others; while at a point known as Seal Rock, one can not only hear but have a view of those monsters, sea lions. The peculiar formation of the coast is observable. A range of table lands extends for miles, compiled of species of clay or sand, and covered with running vines, baring beautiful and fragrant flowers. As the banks slope to the sea, different stratas of c!ay and sand-stone are conspicuous, presenting fantastic forms, arches, pyramids, bridges, etc.. having been shaped or hollowed out by the action of the waves and storms for ages. Far back from the sea are a succession of rolling hills, in clusters, in picture«que groups and fantastic forms, and covered with a rich coat of green, affording splendid food for the dairy stock; and, beyond all these, a belt of mountains, rugged and grand, containing dense forests of timber, where the sound of the woodman’s axe has never yet been heard. The changing forms of the hills, with their varied hues of foliage and rich vegetation; the rugged mountains and splendid forests, extending back as far the eye can reach, with their various marked peculiarities, form an effective aad pleasing picture for the eye, and afford a wide scope for the imagination — but here we will leave the subject for the present, as we pass on our way to PIGEON POINT, So named from the loss of the Carrier Pigeon, which was wrecked on this point some yeas since. It is occupied mostly by Portuguese who are employed in whaling. ” The whale, the brave old whale,’ And lord of the boundless sea,”
   The distance from Pescadero is about five miles; a very pleasant drive, and well worthy a visit, tbe rocks and beach abounding in moss, shells and abalone, the latter of which afford a branch of business to Chinamen at certain seasons of the year. There are two large storehouses for produce and merchandise, it being quite a shipping point for potatoes and dairy produce, as well as shingles, lumber, etc. The swell prevents the possibility of wharf conveniences, consequently all freight has to be conveyed from the bluffs by means of sliding: ropes and pullers, which extend from the shore to high rocks in the bay, into surf- boats below, and from, thence to the schooners, which lie in a place of safety ouside the reef or beach. The process of loading is a peculiar and exciting spectacle to those who have never witnessed the operation. Mr Thos. Alden has charge of the shipping point. 
GAZOS CREEK Is next crossed; a very romantic and favorite spot for the trout-fisher, and where parties from the hotel may find a good day’s sport with ordinary patience. FRANKLIN POINT. This noted spot is about three miles from Pigeon Point, and is memorable as being the place where the “Sir John Franklin” was wrecked some two years ago. Portions of the wreck strew the shore nearly up to the road, which is all that remains to tell the fearful tale. On the point, the bodies that were found lie buried, a simple board marking the graves of the unknown ones, and which last humble tribute was paid by the inhabitants of Pescadero. On the road towards the creek may be noticed a kind of fence composed of peculiar looking wood, some at it of fine quality, made from the wreck of the “Franklin” : and now and then one can discern portions of the cabin furniture. The ship’s name, which once graced her front, as she came sailing to her haven in pride, now adorns tbe front of a.small shop inPescadero; while portions of the moulding may also be seen in various localities in the town. The “Coya” was also wrecked at this point last fall, the memory of which sad disaster it still fresh in the minds of all. Fourteen bodies lie buried in the sand, their monument, like those of the “Franklin,” being a simple board. Sad fate, indeed, for the noble ship and happy souls on board. Tbe morning sun lighted upon the group on deck, their hearts beating with hope and joy at the expectation of home and friends so near at hand: at night their bodies lay beneath the ocean wave, or washed upon the fatal beach, while tbe winds sang a mournful requiem for the departed souls who had gone thus suddenly to meet their God. An appropriation has been at last made, I believe, by Government for a lighthouse near this point, which is one of the most dangerous for vessels on this part of the coast.
   A short ride further brings you to the White House Creek, also a trout stream. Near this Creek is tbe famous WHITE HOUSE, So called from being in its day one of the most expensive in the whole district. It was built in 1851 by Van Houton, of San Francisco, under a lease, at a cost of thousands; dollars, lumber and materials being high at the time. Major Graham, I am told, bought the ranch of the heirs of Simon Castro, in 1852, and subsequently leased it to Van Houtun, who erected the present dwelling. The title afterwards passed from Graham to Clark & Coburn of San Francisco, who subsequently leased it, together with a large tract additional to Messrs. Steele Bros., now the largest dairymen on this coast.
    NEW YEAR’S POINT  This is the next place of importance, after a further ride of three miles, and from Pescadero about twelve miles. This is the main shipping point for the Shingle mills, and the most convenient and accessible, as schooners can come directly to the wharf and load.  The wharf is about 700 feet long, on spiles (sic) and high above the force of the surf at highest tide. By means of a slide, the vessels are loaded rapidly, and dispatched to San Francisco. Schooners also load here for San Pedro and San Luis, as a market may offer. About two million feet of lumber are also shipped from this point yearly.
   A wooden railroad has been constructed from Waddell’s Mill, some five miles distant, to the wharf, and the shingles and lumber are thus transported by four-horse cars, with quickness and despatch (sic). The place is well worthy a visit, and those who desire can enjoy a ride on the train up from the wharf to the mills, an exciting and novel trip, with an opportunity to view grand scenery.    
REDWOOD GLEN is located on White Hou»e Creek, formerly called Spaulding’s Gulch, about ten miles from Pescadero. About one mile from the entrance you come to the Long Bridge. Here the scenery is enticing and the view grandly beautiful. Grand, stately trees rear their heads in air, of most extraordinary height, and straight as an arrow. These trees are of the redwood species, and from one hundred to two hundred and fifty feet in height, free from limbs for seventy-five to one hundred feet.     Around is a perfect wilderness of vines, interlaced undergrowth, beautiful wild flowers and blooming shrubs, delicate and beautiful ferns: and the Creek, running through the whole, over rolling stones adown(sic) banks, and tumbling in fits of foam and spray into the dense ravine some fifty feet below. But we will, for the present, leave all poetry out of the question and come to the GLEN MILLS  Owned and carried on by Messrs. Harrington & Co., (Harrington & Chandler, of Pescadero, and Hawley, of San Francisco. The works are carried on by machinery, and have been established nearly one year. They own a woodland tract of 500 acres, principally redwood, with some oak and pine. Oak bark also abounds in this locality, very valuable for tanning purposes, and at the present time a scarce article in the market, having been sold, I learn, at Redwood City, for $25 per cord. The capacity of the mill at present is about 45,000 shirngles per day, using three machines, and it is their intention to increase it to 60.000 per day. About fourteen men are employed at the mill and in the woods. Messrs. Swanton & Harris are contractors for hauling the shingles to the wharf, and employ several teams for the purpose, who make three trips per day from the mill to New Year’s Point. This is an important branch of business, and is under the management of enterprising men, Mr Chandler superintending at the mill. At the left of the mill may be seen a large stump, some twenty feet in d’ameler, from which tree were made over 400,000 shingles, as well as the covering for all the buildings, flooring, etc., at the mill. The tree was originally about 200 feet high, and evidently the “King’ of Redwood Glen. The Company calculate to ship about twelve million shingles a year. The capacity of the schooners is about 1,300,000 a trip–San Francisco being the principal market, and Messrs. Ackerson & Russ agents for the Glen Mills. The scene in the Redwood Glen is perfectly grand. Nothing could be more so, and those who have visited the spot say that in beauty and savage grandeur nothing can exceed it, and when fully recognized, as it will be in time, will become one of the most attractive and popular resorts for a day’s ride, or picnic, that can be found in the whole district of Pesacadero.  Sigma 
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.