John Vonderlin: Blocking Power of the Waddell Bluff

Story from John Vonderlin

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Hi June,

This is the earliest description I’ve found of the beach passage below the Waddell Bluffs, that helped to sidetrack development of the Coastside.  This is from the Coast Dairies document I’ve posted about previously.  Senor Veytia wrote the book , “Viaje a la Alta California,” from which this excerpt was taken. Enjoy. John

In 1849, Justo Veytia, a Mexican citizen, set out on horseback for San Francisco via the Nort Coast. Neither of the local residents (both born near Santa Cruz) accompanying him had ever taken this route before, a testimony to the fact that in the 1840s the route of choice was either over the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains directly north of Santa Cruz, or out through the Pajaro River gap and then north up the Santa Clara Valley. Passing the bluff at present-day Waddell:

“Two days of this expedition were the most difficult. The second day on the road one has to travel along the beach very close to the water and this can only be done when the tide is low. The day we passed the sea was quite choppy. Neither Arana nor I knew the road so when we went onto the beach we figured it was all right because when a very big wave came up, it only reached the horses’ hooves. So we rode on about 300 varas 10, experiencing two very bad spots because of some rocks, when the very rough sea began to wash over us up to the pommel of our saddles. We didn’t deliberate in making a decision—to go back was clearly dangerous because the rocks were now under water and we couldn’t see the openings between them so we resolved to continue forward to look for some pass where we could go up, for the waves had us pinned against a fairly high cliff. We went on walking for about 200 varas until we found a foot path to ascend and assoon as we were safe we undressed completely to put our clothes to dry because the waves had knocked us down three times, horses and all, so we had to dismount and pull them forcibly. We got out at ten in the morning and as soon as we finished stretching out our clothing and the saddles, we sat down naked on the grass to lunch on the supplies we brought which were now also soup.”

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