The Ocean Shore Railroad’s “Paper Cities”

From the San Mateo County History Museum

Wave Crest, December 18, 1905

Arleta Park, January 15, 1906

Miramar, February 19, 1906

Grandview Terrace,  April 9, 1906

Farallone City, June 2, 1906

Lipton-by-the-Sea, September 27, 1906

Manhattan Beach, March 18, 1907

Venice Beach, May 6, 1907

Montara, June 3, 1907

City of Naples, September 10, 1907

El Granada, November 18, 1907

Redondo Beach, December 2, 1907

Moss Beach, May 4, 1908

Princeton-by-the-Sea, September 8, 1908

Marine View, July 6, 1909

Please enjoy the Kai-Tunes…..Xmas Music to put you in the Mood…

Story by Kai Tiura

Email Kai: [[email protected]]

This is a very cool little flash app that anyone with a web browser should be able to get. It was sent to me by a friend, and I’m forwarding it to my friends. It’s very well done. Click the link and enjoy, and happy holidays to all of you!
Please click here

PS To my newest friends in the geocaching community (you know who you are), the link, if you’ll notice, is from “” (which has, since it was put out, changed to ) a total coincidence, I assure you, but you can click that link also and it’ll take you to a website that looks to be full of GPS unit and firmware/software reviews and notes. Might find something of interest there…

Give a man a fire and he’s warm for the day. But set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.

images-11Terry Pratchett, Discworld

1893: HMB, isolated, with the finest beach in CA

From John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
This is from the 1893 book, “A Memorial and Biographical History of the Central Coast Counties…” by Henry D. Barrows and Luther Ingersoll. It is available on The text contains errors because of the type recognition system.


Of all the towns in San Mateo this most
wears the air of the pre-American regime.
It is a quaint, rambling place with as much
variety in its architecture as there is in the
patois of its people. Situated in the beauti-
ful and fertile Pilarcitos valley, on the border
of that serai-luna of water, from which it
takes its name, it is one of Nature’s chosen
spots, but unfortunate in its isolation. The
valley spreads out into thousands of acres,
through which the Pilarcitos creek makes its
way to the sea. The climate is not excelled
in its loveliness by any on the ocean side, not
excepting the much vaunted Santa Barbara
channel. From the town there stretches
away to the north for miles a clean gradually
shoaling beach, the finest without exception
in California. From Pilar point, the north-
ern headland, a reef of rocks. Just discernible
at low water by the break of the waves, ex-
tends southward for two miles, forming a
natural breakwater and rendering the beach
absolutely free from undertow, high rollers
and every possible danger. Here is the
grandest bathing place in the world, prepared
and protected by Nature. The building of the
coast railroad will deflect the great army of
people who annually flock to Monterey and
places farther south. Half moon Bay will
be rediscovered and the borders of the cres-
cent be ornamented with summer hotels and
villa residences. There is room for all in the
spacious waters of the bay and the most ele-
gant sites for hotels or summer homes to be
found anywhere on tlie coast.

This valley was the seat of the Miramontez
and Vasquez families long before the appear-
ance of the American settler, and by all old
residents the town is still called Spanishtown.
The old adobe homestead is still here, but
before many years will have yielded to the
assaults of time and become an unnoticed
tumulus. There is something in the atmos-
phere of Spanishtown that breeds a spirit of
independence. The people believe in them-
selves. Not that they consider that they are
the salt of the earth entirely, but they love
the valley where they have made their homes
and cling to it as to a family tie which they
are loth to sunder. The business of the
place is drawn mainly from dairymen and
farmers. At Amesport, a short distance
north of town, there is a wharf and warehouse
where coasting vessels call and take away the
butter, cheese and beans.

In the romantic canon of the San Greg-
orio, where giant redwoods cast their elon-
gated shadows and the murmuring waters of
the stream sing a ceaseless lullaby, Mr. John
H. Sears, one of the pioneers of San Mateo,
is passing the afternoon of his life. Here
he has built a hotel and store and does not
lack for company. During the summer sea-
son the woods ring with the merry voices of
campers and the hotel and cottages are
crowded to repletion. No more charming
place can be found anywhere in the State.
It is reached by stage from Redwood City
over a fine road, but so strong is the impres-
sion of a primeval wilderness when once in
the heart of the forest that even the rattle of
the daily coach and the receipt of diurnal
messages from home does not suffice to break
it. White tents peep through the bushes at
every turn, but that serves to highten the
illusion. You are out of the world when
you know you are in it. The days are spent
in eager angling after the elusive trout with
which the stream abounds. In the evening
there are concerts in the camps; bear stories
to be swapped with the landlord; compara-
tive fish yarns by young men, who could’nt
catch three trout in a week, but who love to
talk about it; a championship game at crib-
bage with the drummer, who knows it all
and then to be abed for seven hours in
deepest oblivion. It is a joyful place, un-
conventional, unaffected, but unexceptionable
in the. personnel of its patrons. A writer in
one of the many visits to this favorite spot
was introduced to a camp, where the party
was almost entirely composed of ladies.
“When out of hearing of the camp he asked
the lady who acted as chaperon of the party
how they managed to enjoy themselves with-
out the aid of the sterner sex. ” Enjoy
themselves?” said she in a burst of enthus-
iasm, ” oh, yes; they do! We have plenty of
horses, wear divided skirts, ride astride like
men and have such lots of fun.” Of course
they did. It was harmless, healthful fun,
and they were free to throw their souls into
it. It was an active exercise of body and
mind in a pure air, and with such surround-
ings as induced joyful hearts, consuming ap-
petites and refreshing sleep. Every day so
spent added a year to their lives. It is not
strange that when the sun dips to the south
they look forward with eager anticipation to
the June days when they shall again set up
their tents at La Honda.

Before you put the fish back in Purissima Creek….

I’ve changed my mind, says John Vonderlin.

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
Thanks. I’ve had a change of mind though about the site of the Dougherty’s inn. When I was researching Purisima I read your and other’s stories on HMB, but I missed the continuation of your 1977 story. After reading that I realized only a nut would have built a hotel on the spot I was theorizing was the site after the great flood of 1862 you described. It is just way too close to the creek. It would be a great place to have a cabin though.
There is a new article about Purisima on Wikipedia that links to your website. It’s pretty good.
If you go to Picture 6159 on California Coastal Records Project (CPR), and hit the Comparison button you’ll find 199300128008 between the 2002 photo series and the 1987 photo series. Enjoy. John

John Vonderlin: How did the fish get into tiny Purissima Creek anyway?

Story/Photos John Vonderlin
Email John ([email protected])

[Image: Town of Purisima (also spelled Purissima), circa 1870s.] purissima10

Hi June,
I think you’ll find this an interesting addition to the handful of excellent stories you have posted on HMB concerning Purisima (Purissima). This is an article from “The San Francisco Call,” of April 12, 1900.

Legislation on Fishing in San Mateo
Necessity of Closing Streams Another Month Questioned

On the last day of March, in an article on the trout streams of California the fishing expert of “The Call” commented adversely on the action of the Supervisors of San Mateo in passing an ordinance closing the fishing season until May 1. It was held that as all the fish have spawned by April 1 the closing of the season will be but of little benefit. As none of the adjoining counties have such a law, confusion to the anglers is sure to develop. The editor of “The Coast Advocate” of Halfmoon bay (sic) comes valiantly to the aid of the Superviors. (sic) Unfortunately, for him his argument is weak, as his various premises are not accurate.

The controversy was submitted by The Call to John P. Babcock, chief deputy of the California State Fish Commission and an authority on the game and food fish of the coast. Mr. Babcock supports unqualifiedly the statements of The Call in an interesting communication. He says:

The Coast Advocate is in error in saying that the “Purissima Creek is the most important trout stream in San Mateo County, and that it is not surpassed as a fishing ground by any stream in California.” The Purissima Creek does not compare favorably as a fishing stream with the San Gregoria, (sic) the Pescadero, or Butana, (sic) or their main tributaries.

The fish in the Purissima are numerous, but small. An eight-inch fish is a big one in that stream, and one of ten inches a “whale.”

The Purissima, however, is one of the best known streams in San Mateo County. The wayside inn established some forty years ago by Richard Dougherty upon its bank near its mouth gave it its reputation. “The Purissima House” has no equal of a stopping place on the coast, but it was “Dick’s” care for travelers and his wife’s cooking that made it so attractive. The fishing for small fish was good. They were of fine flavor and Mrs. Dougherty knew just how to cook them and just what to serve with them. Any one who was so fortunate as to eat a meal prepared by Mrs. Dougherty talked of its excellence for days after.

As time went by it was noised about that you must have fished the Purissima to know the real joy of angling, so that at any time in the early part of the season you were sure to find congenial sports there, and even though there were no fish over eight inches in length your catch from the Purissima, you came home,  well convinced that fish do not contribute all of “fishing.” It is curious how the fish did get into the Purissima and how they maintain themselves there, for they cannot enter from the sea, and up to the time of Dick Doughtery’s death a few years ago as far is known the stream was not stocked with fish from any other water. Yet year after year fish continued to multiply and furnish creel after creel of small trout to the anglers who visited its water. As to the spawning period of the fish in the Purissima the writer is not as well informed, but they “do not entirely cease spawning until after May 1 and not a third have completed their work by April 1st” as the Coast Advocate says. The wonder of them maintaining themselves in such a limited water course is more the mystery.

In all the thirty odd years Dougherty lived there the stream was fished each year by hundreds. When a stream will stand such a strain for such a length of time one may well believe that Dick was right when he said, “You can’t fish ’em all out.”

So far as the writer knows the spawning season of the trout in the Purissima does not differ materially from those other streams in the county, namely, December to April. There may be a few who have not deposited their spawn by April 1, but they are the exception. The embryo of the next season’s spawn is large enough in April to be noticeable. This is true ever of trout that have just spawned.

If the present close season was observed there would be no necessity for a longer season in San Mateo county. It is commonly stated that little or no attention was paid to the closed season this year in San Mateo. It is even stated on April 1 there was a well-beaten track on both sides of San Gregorio and Pescadero Creeks. If the peace officers and Supervisors of San Mateo County would take steps to enforce the closed season under State law it would be of more benefit to the streams and the anglers who go there.


While I’ve been unable to locate any further information about “The Purissima House” or Mr. and Mrs. Dougherty,  I believe I have a reasonable answer to how the fish got in the creek. The answer is glaciers. The present sea level that makes the Purisima Falls an obstacle to fish wishing to return to ancestral spawning grounds from the ocean, has only existed for a blink of an eye in geologic terms. As you can see from this map I’ve attached 91 that even ten thousand years ago the sea level was still about 100 feet lower then it is now with the shoreline several miles west of where it is now.  The Falls themselves were still covered with softer rock and soil that was washed away by waves as the waters rose to their present level. My guess it was probably only in the last five thousand and possibly much more recently that the falls became an impassable obstacle to the returning fish. It might even have been in just the last thousand years, after the sea level became stabilized, that the forces of erosion, both the stream’s flow lowering the creekbed’s level and the receding coastline caused by the unrelenting pounding of waves, created this wonderful waterfall and gave the stay at home trout genetic dominion over this watershed.

My understanding is that the Cowell/Purisima Trail won’t be open until Spring because of the need to build three substantial bridges, but you can check out this area and the progress they’d made as of Oct by checking out California Coastal Records Project (CCRP) Pictures # 20080795 (Cowell Beach Access Point) south to #200809829 (Poppy Point viewing area)   CCRP has recently added two series of looking-straight-down high altitude photos, of which Picture #199300128008 is of the Falls and the nearby area, which certainly must include the site of “The Purissima House,” that the Doughertys made famous. My guess is the bare brown oval just above the Falls was the site, but that’s just because I would have put it there if I was building it. Enjoy. John


Hi June,
This is a Screengrab of  California Coastal Records Project (CCRP) Picture #199300128008 11that I added a P to indicate where I think “The Purissima House” was. This leveled spot with the to-die-for view, is somewhat lower then the surrounding land, giving it some shelter from the wind, easy gravity flow water to it and the sound of the stream and falls nearby to soothe you. With all the land on the flat above I can’t think of any other good reason they would have bothered to level this tiny, isolated patch otherwise. Enjoy. John

John Vonderlin: Maybe we better bail out the stagecoach companies of 1909

Story by John Vonderlin
Email John  ([email protected])
Hi June,
As I’m typing this out I’m listening to the latest chapter of the Big Three’s economic problems being played out on the cable news channels. This 1909 article from “The San Francisco Call,” is another reminder that there is nothing new under the sun.
October 12, 1909
Tells of the Passing of the Historic Stage Line Between San Mateo and Pescadero, Which Was Made Unprofitable by Railroad Competition After Less Then Fifty Years Operation
Motor Cars Replace Six Horse Coaches
Scant notice, if any, was given by the San Francisco press of the passing of one of the historic stage lines in this state. A few weeks ago all the coaches and livestock of the stage line plying between San Mateo and Pescadero, via Halfmoon bay (sic), Purisima, and San Gregoria, (sic) were sold at auction. For a little less then a half a century the line had been in existence, but the advent of the Ocean Shore railway introduced a competition that could not be met, and so, like the other stage lines, it passed into history.
Before Del Monte was thought of, and Santa Cruz was dreaming of its future, Pescadero, with its famous pebble beach, was one of the most popular seaside resorts in the state. Every morning in the summer the big Concord coach with its six well groomed horses left San Mateo for Pescadero, loaded to capacity. Often there were two or three coaches. The route was through the Crystal Springs Canyon, across the Canada de la Raymunda, up the mountain and down to Halfmoon bay, (sic) and thence along the coast to Pescadero. A more beautiful ride can not be found in the state.
The elder Swanton, whose son Fred is now the big gun at Santa Cruz, ran the hotel at Pescadero and his fame as a caterer was established by the bon vivants of the San Francisco clubs.
Not a few of the drivers who piloted the big coaches had seen service on the great overland stage lines and when the locomotives put them out of business they drifted to the coast line, where the war whoop of the redskin was never heard and the road agent made no profit.
The rumble of the road coach is stilled, and in its place is heard the whirr and whiz of the motor driven vehicle.
I wonder what would have been the response of the newly unemployed stage drivers if I could have nursed a few beers with them at the Swanton and told them of the things to come and go along the Coastside in the next hundred years? Enjoy. John

1949 Half Moon Bay High Reunion at Mezza Luna Restaurant

1213 Elaine Martini Teixeira joined her good friends for a very special Half Moon Bay High School reunion at Mezza Luna Restaurant, Princeton-by-the-Sea. Mezza Luna is located in the Princeton Hotel pian excellent example of Ocean Shore Railroad-era architecture.


Who’s Who?
Elaine says:
Top – on the left: Jack Bettencourt, Dick Picchi, myself, & LaVerne Pacheco, across on right: Sally Lea, Ugo Lea and Fred Cunha.

Next line, left side: Jack B. Dick P. ET, LaVerne P. Wilbur Azevedo, Cecilia Madonna and across table, backs to camera, Frank Ramacciotti, Guido Santaini, in red is Bobbie Pacheco.

Skipped a line, same people, except in one, next to Azevedo’s, the couple are Lina and Kenny Ormonde

Last line, I think, (as find, as I started to write this, can not keep going back to photos and coming back to this email), is Franka Ramacciotti, Loretta Santini, Stacy Teixiera and across table, Frank Ramacciotti and Guido Santini (backs to camera).