The article in the attached ScreenShots followed the year after the publishing of the sad state of the Purisima Creek in the “La Purisima” story. An earlier posting I sent you had the opposite take of this article as to any difference in spawning dates or the need for special regulation. Wow. People fighting about the dwindling fish supply and what to do about it? Go figure. Enjoy. John
The Fish in the Purissima Creek Spawn One Month Late
The angling community of this city are much exercised as to the proposed closing of the Purissima Creek until May 1. Many Waltonians have been in the habit for years of fishing this creek early in April, and they have always found abundance of trout. Many, however, declare that the fish therein do not spawn until the end of April and it is because of the representations of these atter that the proposed closing is about to be ordered.
William Lambert, a prominent Waltonian, was seen on Steiner street yesterday, and being asked about the matter, said: “I have fished the Purissima Creek now for many years and I think that it should be closed down certainly until May 1. It is really a shame to take out some of the trout which I have seen landed in the early spring. Owing to the peculiarity of the waters of the creek not uniting with the ocean so as to allow salmon or any kind of salmon trout to ascend or descend and spawn, the fish therein, all, therefore, spawn very late in the season.
“If the creek is still allowed to be fished as heretofore it will be altogether depleted and will cost the Fish Commissioners a lot of money to restock the creek and consequently, also a loss of time to fishermen who follow their pastime at the creek. I and a friend fished there the latter part of last April one evening. I caught 25 trout through spawning, and a like proportion of my friend’s catch were in the same condition. We thereupon stopped fishing and rode over to Lobitos Creek, where we found that all the fish we caught had already spawned. The conditions, therefore, of the Purissima Creek render it essential that it should be closed down forthwith before sportsmanlike anglers begin to commit their annual depredations.”
I found this article in the San Francisco “Morning Call,” April 8th, 1891 edition. It fills in very well what was going on in Purissima in its heydays. The OCR version of this had hundreds of errors, but I think I got most of them. To think the stream had already been fished out and polluted by oil wells in 1891 is amazing. It seems like the falls were higher then or he was using fishermen’s measurements. I’ll research some of the folks mentioned in the article and send it along soon. I never knew why they called them anglers, but now I know thanks to this article. Enjoy. John
THE MORNING CALL, SAN FRANCISCO, SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 1891.
A Favorite Resort of Old-
WHERE BIG TROUT FLOURISH
The Beautiful Brook in the Daytime.
The Comfortable Inn at
This is the season for the angler. Every
nook and stream within mi!es of San Fran –
cisco where by any chance a trout has
been permited to lurk till the Ist of April
is now eagerly sought and industriously
fished by old as well as young Waltonians.
“We may say of angling as Dr. Boteler
said of strawberries,” writes old lsaak in
“The Complete Angler.” “Doubtless God
could have made a better berry, but
doubtless God never did. and so, if I
might be judge, God never did make a
more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than
Alexander Pope comes very near de –
scribing the situation in California at this
season of the year, when he sings in his
poem of “Windsor Forest”:
ln genial spring, beneath the quivering shade
When cooling vapors breathe along the mead,
The patient fisher takes his silent stand.
Intent, his angle trembling in his hand,
With looks unmoved, he hopes the scaly breed
And eyes the dangling ash and bending reed.
Pope could not have better pictured one
particular place in San Mateo County if
he had had it in his mind when he wrote
those lines, and to which the thoughts of
many an old angler in .San Francisco re –
vert when the open season arrives. It is
a bright, sparkling little stream, between
Spanishtown (Jim Denison’s theater of action
in his lifetime) and Pescadero,
about thirty-eight miles from the city,
called by the Spanish name, La Puri –
sima, which as everybody knows means
“the purest.” The name was well applied
to its limpid water’s thirty years or more
ago. but can hardly be so now on account
of several abandoned oilwells that con –
taminate the stream and impart; a dis –
agreeable flavor to fish caught near and
La Purisima was a famous trout stream
in its early days. Fish were found there
in great numbers and of a kind not known
elsewhere in California; they were pecu –
liar to the brook itself. This creek was
the favorite resort of anglers from San
Francisco, and when the April winds grew
soft you might find parties of them at Buz –
zell’s—as it was known then—now Dough –
. erty’s comfortable little inn, past which
the waters of La Purisima coursed. Good
fellows always, and jolly enough to in –
spire an American Shenstone to write in
praise of the inn and its tenants. Rising
in the Gabilan Sierra Moreno, now known
as the Santa Cruz range, this creek has but
a short distance to run oceanward. Within
a few hundred yards of the inn the waters
fall into ttie vast Pacific’s arms over a ledge
about eighty feet high. In the rainy sea –
son this fall is a cascade, in the dry sum –
mer months the stream, shrunken in
volume, spreads over the rocks like a veil
hiding their ruggedness, and with a musi –
cal tinkling that is pleasant to the ear.
The usual plan adopted by the stalwart
fisherman who had made up his mind for a
day’s sport in the creek was to leave tbe
Dougherty inn—the name “inn,” or, as
the country pnople had it, “tavern,” is to
be preferred because thirty years ago the
place had not attained the dignity of a
modern hotel—in the cool gray of the
early morning and walk up the valley,
“brushing with hasty steps the dews
away,” like the young man in Gray’s
Elegy, a distance of about four miles to
where ex-Supervisor Lane, one of the City
Fathers who in the sixties looked after
the municipal interests of San Francisco,
had erected a sawmill. Some who loved
their ease made the distance by a vehicle,
but your true-spirited angler always footed
it. The walk was just far enough
to warm a vigorous man up for
the creek work to follow. Lane’s mill
was at the base of the Santa Cruz range,
among the redwood, from which the
creek emerges and goes on its way down
through the meadows to tbe sea. Here’s
where a fisherman out for a day’s work
always began it, facing toward his point
of departure In the morning. If you went
up beyond the sawmill into the redwoods,
you had hard climhing, besides a compara –
tively slender thread of water and only
fingerlings to reward the toil. One of the
desirable features as a fishing-place of the
Purislnia is, by the way, the location of
Dougherty’s inn, in relation to the route
the angler has to traverse. Starting in at
the old sawmill, and fishing down stream,
he has tbe satisfaction of knowing that
every step takes him nearer his hostelry,
and by the time be has made his last cast,
when the sun is westering behind the
Gabilan mountain, and his creol has be –
come heavy—wlich was more often the
case in the days of which I write, when
the fish were plenty and tbe fishers few,
than at present—it does not need a walk of
more than 100 yards to make the Inn, to
disembarrass himself of the pleasing load,
which the angler of average industry
nearly always bears in the shape of a well –
filled basket, and rest from their whole-
some tire his strong and sinewy limbs.
One of the most skillful and at the same
time most ardent anglers of tlie period and
the place was Harlow S. Love, father of
John Lord Love, ex-Attoruey-General of
this State. Mr. Love often made Dough –
erty’s cozy little inn on the banks of the
Purisima his home for a month or two in
the open season. He was a lawyer of
much reputation in that day, as his son is
at present, and conducted The Call as
the earliest legal adviser of its then pro-
prietors through many perplexing and
tortuous lawsuits. Mr. Love in his Wal –
tonlan pursuit treated the elusive trout
pretty much as in court he did the
wary witnesses he examined—he had them
in the creel, as the Scotchman calls our
trout-basket, almost before they felt they
were hooked. It was a sight to see this
lover of rod and reel, in his fishing equip –
ment, pushing on through clumps of
shrubbery, regardless of poison oak or any
other baneful plant, to reach a quiet pool
under a gnarled root that jutted out over
tne stream from an ancient redwood, and
where he generally basketed a couple of
pounders. He was a model American dis –
ciple of old lzaak, fully able to cope with
the rougher conditions under which the
“gentle art” has to be plied in California.
Gideon J. Denny, the painter, was
another of those sport-loving cits who was
often beside this stream; but much as he
loved trout-fishing he loved his pictorial
art more. Like Alfred Jingle, the poet,
who, when hunting, varied his banging of
the fieldpiece by twanging the lyre, “Gid,”
as his familiars used to call him, dropped
his rod for a sketch when a good bit of land –
scape caught his eye, a pretty swirl in the
water of the creek, or a knot of cattle ofl
in the meadow that reminded him of a
Cuyp he had seen somewhere. He was a
marine painter, as a general proposition,
and many of his sea pictures are yet on
the walls of private dwellings and public
places in this city, but he had a painter’s
eye for the beautiful in nature on land as
well as on sea. He never made a good
showing as an angler; he was not indus –
trious enough. Where he shone brightest
was in the great room of the Dougherty
inn when the “ev’en had brought it’ hame,”
and the anglers, the flagellants of the
brook, narrated their adventures of a day.
Gid never boasted of his basket, nor
mentioned any striking work by the
brookside; but he had experiences in other
directions that were equally interesting,
and he told them racily, like the man of
the world he was.
On one occasion a member of the fishing
party caught a three-pound trout—said to
be the largest fish taken out of the Puri –
sima’s waters since the American occupa –
tion, or in the memory of the oldest in –
habitant. There was a howl of disgust
wheu the fortunate angler exhibited his
prize to the assembled fishermen in the
evening, and decided doubts were ex –
pressed that it was ever caught by a. hook
“Some chap has a trout preserve on the
creek, and that fish was caught with a
silver hook. How much did you pay for
it?” Such was the kind of chaffing that
parsed round the circle.
Gid saw a chance for his pencil. The
big trout was laid out to the best advan –
tage, and measured 18 inches from tip to
tip; then be made a handsome drawing of
it, which was hung up in the barroom of
the inn. with all the data connected with
its capture. Everybody living in the coun –
tryside round about came to see the pic –
ture of the great trout, to talk about
it in a way more or less nonsensical. The
main point was that there was a good deal
of whisky drunk by the visitors during
the debate, and it is said the landlord de –
rived enough money from this source to
pay his taxes for that year. It is needless
to say Gid was made free of the bar while
his picture was on exhibition. The fish it –
self was speedily transferred to the hand
of the best cook in San Francisco, who
served it up au gratin, the mushrooms and
truffles plentiful, and it was discussed in a
more material way by two or three epi –
cures of the fishing party, who bathed its
firm, pinky flakes in choice sauterne.
Many other names occur to the writer,
and he turns with a sigh from the recollec –
tion, for they are all dead, while La Pu –
risima is still singing Tennyson’s song of
the brook, “Men may come and men may
go, but I go on forever.”
There are several mesa-like islets lying
a short distance off shore in the vicinity
of Dougherty’s inn that were objects of
great interest to visitors thirty years ago,
and are so yet, probably. When evening
drew on all the space on their surface,
many acres in area, was covered by enor –
mous sea-lions, packed as closely together
as sardines are in a box, and they fought
for their respective places all the live –
long night and roared so loudly that the
combined noise reached the inmates of the
inn like the “sound of many waters” or of
a Niagara in the distance. At one time
these animals were killed for their oil, and
the beach would be lined with monstrous
specimens of dead phocae, some weighing
upward of a thousand pounds. The slaugh –
ter, however, proved unprofitable and
was finally discontinued.
The pursuit of the California black fish
was also made a business by Buzzell, the
predecessor of Dougherty. It was hazard –
ous and he lost his life by it. He didn’t
happen to have a good boat-steerer with
him at the time he was fastened to a
fish, and when it fluked and stove the boat
in the old man, even while his people were
looking on from the shore, sank out of
sight into the ocean witn a bubbling groan.
Here’s a story from the July 24th, 1897 issue of the San Francisco Call about the death of the supposed first “white” settler in the Half Moon Bay area, G.R. Borden. Enjoy. John
SAN MATEO PIONEER GONE.
G. R. Borden Passes Away at His Home
REDWOOD CITY, Cal., July 23.— G. R.
Borden, a wealthy pioneer resident of this
county, died at his home at Purissima, on
the coast side, yesterday. Borden landed
in this section in 1853, locating near Half –
moon Bay, and had the distinction of
being the first white man to cross the
Santa Cruz range of mountains and make
his home in that place. Tie late James
Peace, who deserted his vessel in San
Francisco Bay some years previous, was
undoubtedly the first white resident.
Borden was born near L.ttie Falls,
N. V., in 1812, and during bis boynood
was a schoolmate and intimate friend of
the late Senator Stanford. Borden was
one of the builders of the Erie canal, hav –
ing had charge of the construction of fifty
miles near Utica City.
The deceased was extensively engaged
in the manufacture of shingles and was
associated with G. P. Hartley of this city,
forming one co-partnership, and with
R. H. Hatch of the coast side in a similar
enterprise. His real property consists
of a valuable tract ol timber land in
Purissima Canyon which is worth $100,000.
He leaves one son. The burial took place
today at Halfmoon Bay, under the aus –
pices of the Masonic fraternity.
I read some posts on your site about fishing for trout in the coastal streams. I have fished almost all of them and have fond memories of picnics among the redwoods and the a camp fire at dusk. That reminds me of an old, true, family story of fishing in Purisssima Creek back in about 1949. My uncle Lyle who lived in San Francisco and worked at Stanford University spent a great day fishing in Purissima creek and had scored a limit of trout. I belive it was 15 fish then. He was at the family home cleaning his catch when his brother Robert (Uncle Bun to us, as he was born on easter) came to admire the efforts of a day on the creek. Bragging about the big one that got away “right under the old log bridge” and stating “WOW, it muust have been 14 inches”, poor uncle Lyle bragged a little too much, for the very next afternoon, in the very same sink, stretched out next to a metal tape measure was “Big Ned” as Uncle Bun named the wily giant that eluded Lyle the previous day. Uncle Bun jokingly teased Lyle, who pretended to be happy that someone caught the fish, by stating “just for the record Big Ned was only 13 inches.”
Hello, June. I found an article a while back in TIME online***. It originally appeared 7/5/37 and is titled: New Road Old. It tells of the dreams of two men. One was Dr.John Lorenzo Dow Roberts (an interesting tale in itself), who successfully fought to get a paved road from Carmel to the Hearst Ranch so he could better serve his patients. The other was J. Downey Harvey, president of the Ocean Shore Railroad, who dreamt of a passenger line from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. (Of course, we know that nightmare!) Had I known in 1937 that Mr. Downey was still living in 1937 in my youthful naivete and enthusiasm that the Ocean Shore was soon to be rebuilt, I undoubtedly would have attempted to contact Mr. Harvey. From the tone of the interviewer’s article, I think my reception would have been doubtful…
Incidentally, when J. Harvey Downey was in So. Cal. before the Ocean Shore days he was involved with removing an Indian tribe he regarded as squatters on his property. The Indians claimed long-held rights to the land. Finally, a CA Supreme Court decision bolstered later by the U.S. Supreme Court found for Mr. Harvey. A good Old California story for you there, June. Angelo Misthos
June to Angelo: Do you know which California tribe?
June, the tribe was the Cupenos. Even Wikipedia has an article on it, but if you look under J. Downey Harvey and Cupeno Indians I’m sure you’ll find plenty of info.
The doctor whose dream came true was John Lorenzo Dow Roberts (aka John L. D. Roberts); you may look him up under that name. Angelo
In 1906, the rolling hills of San Mateo seemed an unlikely site for an English fox hunt, replete with traditional riding regalia, fine horses and a full complement of hounds. All that was missing was the fox. This did not deter the resourceful Peninsula aristocrats. If local foxes were scarce, coyotes weren’t.
From a distance, the men and women astride galloping horses looked like specks of red and black, impressionistic figures on the San Mateo landscape. Attired in red hunting jackets, white breeches and black caps, they were members of the San Mateo County Hunt Club.
As “master of the San Mateo Hounds,” John Downey Harvey, the 46-year-old president of the Ocean Shore Railway, gathered around him the “regulars.” Thesemembers included Harvey’s daughters, Anita and Genevive, his friend, attorney Francis Carolan, banker Richard Tobin and polo players Captain Seymour and Walter Hobart. The Burlingame Country Club was the meeting place for the “drag hunt,” which resembled a fox hunt, except the hounds were trained to follow an artificial scent.
As the riders and their hounds nervously awaited the start of the meet covering 15 miles, none of them dreamed that a month later, the San Francisco earthquake and fire would change many of their lives. The Peninsula’s great water mains would collapse as San Mateo County sustained wide quake damage.
On the Coastside, boulders would tumble over Devil’s Slide into the foaming surf, followed by the twisted remains of the Ocean Shore Railroad’s freshly laid track and expensive rolling stock.
As owner of 13,000 shares of the railway, Downey Harvey was the driving force behind the first railroad to promote a 5 ½ – hour trip as a moving picture ride down the San Mateo County Coastside, featuring views of cliffs, bluffs, beaches, rocks, redwoods and marine scenery.
While the San Mateo County Hunt Club met, Downey Harvey didn’t have earthquakes or any dark thoughts on his mind as his horse “Fawn” jumped the five-foot fences. On the contrary, the railway president felt a burst of energy as the small pack of hounds led the hunters at a galloping speed across familiar terrain: fields bordering banker W.H. Crocker’s home called “New Place;” millionaire executive and future Hillsborough mayor Robert Hooker’s estate; the gate of Francis and Harriet Carolan’s Crossways Farm; the back of the Tevis place, later Jennie Crocker’s home; the golf links of the Burlingame Country Club and the shade trees of “Howard’s Woods.”
Born in Los Angeles on April 17, 1860, J. Downey Harvey was the son of Colonel Walter and Eleanor Harvey. His uncle, John G. Downey, was the seventh governor of California, later a business partner of Alvinza Hayward, whose mansion once stood near Ninth Avenue in San Mateo.
When Downey was 10-years-old, his father, Harvey, died. With his mother, Eleanor, who had married banker Edward Martin, Downey moved to San Francisco. Dubbed “Queen” Eleanor, Downey’s mom became the undisputed leader of San Francisco society for decades, and her home was known as a “fortress of respectability.”
As a youngster, Downey Harvey displayed a “genius” for acquiring friends. In school, he befriended the son of Pio Pico, the last governor of Alta California, who, with his family chose to reside in Los Angeles. Harvey also knew John C. Fremont, a popular, nationally known figure, and a promoter of railroad projects in the West.
In 1883, 23-year-old Downey Harvey married Sophie Cutter; the couple raised two daughters, Anita and Genevive. Sophie Harvey loved music and a full social calendar, yet she managed to run her large household with efficiency.
Along the way, Downey collected all types of friends. from artists and entertainers to business and military men. His aspiration was to become a “clubman.”
By 1895, Downey, an avid sportsman, reportedly laid out Northern California’s first golf course for the San Francisco Golf and Country Club. When he learned that San Mateo County, because of its “undulating pasture without pebbles,” was the best terrain for the hunt, he focused his efforts on helping develop the San Mateo County Hunt Club.
Polo player Walter Hobart had a place in the hunt club’s lore. In 1897, he purchased 38 foxhounds, shipping them from New York to San Mateo for the first “authentic” chase. The San Mateo County Hunt Club members pursued Hobart’s hounds across the fields in a “drag hunt,” the animals chasing a sack of anise seed, a flavoring used in alcoholic drinks called “cordials.” The hunt ended when the hounds surrounded the aromatic sack. Disappointed that their quarry was not alive, the hounds had to be rewarded with stewed beef. As for the hunt club members, they rode back to the Burlingame Country Club for cocktails and dinner, followed by a big party.
Their aristocratic English fox-hunting cousins would have found many deficiencies in the San Mateo club’s version of the hunt. One one occasion the “clever huntsman” Jerry Keating unleashed a large pack of hounds, so many that they were in every field, in every direction.
Making matters worse (or perhaps more exciting), so-called “unauthorized horsemen” (folks who “just” enjoyed riding) put themselves between the hunters and the dogs. Foiling the scent with their steaming horses, they tested the patience of the master of the hunt, ruining the chase.
Ocean Shore Railway President J. Downey Harvey learned from Jerry Keating’s mistakes, and he never brought along too many hounds.
Harvey also did not like to be called by his official title, “master of the San Mateo Hounds.”
“His democratic ideas,” explained a friend, “coupled with his modesty and his kindliness will not allow him to bear the honorable title which means so much to European sportsmen.”
Harvey had always displayed an interest in horses, as did his close friend San Francisco attorney Francis Carolan. Married to Harriet Pullman, heiress to the railroad car fortune, Carolan loved his equine friends, but it was more than just a hobby. Offered top dollar for Vidette, one of the best jumpers in the country, the attorney repeatedly refused to sell his favorite hunting horse at any price.
Upon completion of the Carolan’s Crossways Farm, a Burlingame residence with stables and a private polo field, the couple celebrated with a spectacular party held inside the stables. Flower-draped chartered Pullman cars carried guests–the men attired in red hunting jackets–from San Francisco to the Burlingame farm. Thousands of Japanese lanterns (perhaps to show support for Japan, then at war with Russia) and electric lights lit up the grounds, and a multi-colored chandelier had been installed in the stables, according to the archives of the San Mateo County History Museum. To get a powerful boost of illumination, including a string of lights outlining the house, wires were strung all the way from Burlingame to Redwood City.
Cocktails and supper were served at tables placed near the brightly lit stables; entertainment included a Japanese ballet and Spanish dancers.
The Carolans became famous for the renowned French chateau they built in Hillsborough in 1915 — abandoned by them seven seven months later — when the rattling windows and other annoyances undermined their shaky marriage, causing them to abruptly leave the Carolans and each other.
As a major shareholder of Ocean Shore Railroad stock, it was natural that Downey Harvey would think about the railroad’s difficult construction near Devil’s Slide, north of Montara on the Coastside. Building a railroad along the coast route from San Francisco to Santa Cruz had been strewn with obstacles.
Forty years earlier in 1865, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company surveyed the possibility of a Coastside railroad, creating an air of excitement in Pescadero and Half Moon Bay. Thousands of workers were slated to fell trees, excavate cuts, string bridges and bore tunnels. Suddenly land prices doubled….but the bubble burst, and the railroad was not built.
Millionaire miner Alvinza Hayward, who built a mansion [later turned into a hotel] in San Mateo, spent $17,000 surveying a railroad, doing some grading and securing rights-of-way. His plans suddenly were dropped because of bad investments.
Other planned railroads failed as well. In 1905 the San Mateo Times, fearing interference from the Western Pacific Railroad, called for their choice, the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) to take action.
The San Mateo Times implored the SP to spend money encouraging a Coastside railroad from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. If they did this, the San Mateo Times held, the SP would shut out “dangerous competition and forever make the counties of Santa Cruz, San Mateo and San Francisco the exclusive territory for the construction of the Southern Pacific railroads.”
The SP'[s engineering department responded that a surveying party had begun, and the company was acquiring the rights-of-way. The SP’s efforts came too late, for Downey Harvey and his independent group of Ocean Shore Railway investors had outmaneuvered the competition.
Inviting guests to his new home, San Francisco Mayor Eugene Schmitz [Image: San Francisco Mayor Eugene Schmitz]
proudly showed visitors a $1,250 Persian rug–a lavish gift reportedly from Downey Harvey, thus greasing the skids for the Ocean Shore Railway being awarded the coveted San Francisco franchise.
In 1906, a month before the earthquake struck, the San Mateo Hunt Club members, hot on the trail of the hounds disappeared into the tree-lined Howard Woods where a “coyote was liberated and killed by the pack.” The hounds backtracked over the same course while Downey Harvey and the other hunters rode to the Burlingame clubhouse where they enjoyed luncheon on the verandah. The day of sport had not ended for polo players Captain Seymour and Walter Hobart; these men galloped off for a polo match at Francis Carolan’s nearby private polo field.
A month later, on April 18, the San Francisco earthquake struck.
(Image from a book called: “Complete Story of the San Francisco Horror,” Memorial Edition. 1906)
As president of the Ocean Shore Railway, Downey Harvey convinced San Francisco’s mayor to form a Committee of Fifty to provide relief for the homeless, but his own losses were beyond calculation.
Author Gertrude Atherton wrote that her friend Downey Harvey had invested the greater part of his fortune in the Coastside’s scenic railway–but after the earthquake there was little interest in scenic railroads and new resorts.
The Ocean Shore limped for4ward but the Harveys had lost so much money in the railroad they were forced to live in a sort of retirement for awhile. For the Downey Harveys, such a retirement meant living at Del Monte, the exclusive resort built by the Southern Pacific Railroad at Monterey.
Upon his return to San Francisco, Downey Harvey faced lawsuits resulting from the tragic death of an Ocean Shore train conductor. The OSRR finally closed down about 1922.
J. Downey Harvey, whose affiliations included the Bohemian, Pacific Union, Olympic and San Francisco Golf Clubs, was “the most human of human beings,” said a friend after his death in 1947. “He had the wisdom of a fox and honesty of a sunrise.
The Ocean Shore Auto Stage company’s route was from Tunitas, in San Mateo County, to Swanton in Santa Cruz County. The franchise for the route was granted to them by the State Railroad Commission to connect the railheads and bridge the 26 mile “Gap.” The buses (two 12- passenger “Stanley Steamer Mountain Wagons” with convertible tops) ran to San Francisco only when the Ocean Shore Railroad was shut down by mud slides and washouts, which was fairly often. When the two Steamers operated to San Francisco and towns other than their assigned route they were really in violation of their franchise. However, the Railroad Commission looked the other way. Beginning in about 1914 several auto jitney and bus lines began competing with the Ocean Shore Railroad including the “Coastside Transportation Company” and the “Red Star Stage Line” which operated along the coast in San Mateo County. They used conventional gas-powered vehicles and served Moss Beach, Marine View, Salada, Vallemar, Rockaway, San Pedro, Montara, Half Moon Bay, and other towns. The Coastside Transportation Company had its northern terminal in San Francisco. The Red Star line traveled along Market Street in San Francisco and went as far as Pescadero. The Photo is the Red Star Stage Line Bus at the Moss Beach Hotel.
The Spirit Of The Road : One Hundreds Years of the California State Automobile Association by Tom Turner & John Sparks. Coffee table book. Great photos.
——————– A Love Affair with the Automobile
by June Morrall
Seeking to promote the exhilaration that comes with motoring, automobile club enthusiasts drove a fleet of horseless carriages from San Francisco to the San Mateo County countryside in 1902.
After a hearty luncheon, the caravan of more than two dozen strange-looking vehicles putt-putted along scenic Crystal Springs Road, leaving spectators aghast. The memories of the magical trip were captured forever on film as they paused for photographs in the beautiful setting.
It was a historic moment. The pioneering motorists demonstrated that they could move about the countryside at their own pace with no need to feed any horses or check the Southern Pacific railroad’s schedule.
The automobile rally at Crystal Springs was a smashing success, but it was 1902, and the horse was still king. The many critics of the motorized vehicle denounced them as highly unreliable, noisy and smelly “Whizz-wagons” with no future, just a passing fad.
One hundred years ago the owner of a new motor car was considered an adventurous type, but he still required a book of instructions to operate the vehicle.
“It won’t start,” was a common complaint.
Automobiles had to be hand-started, a frustrating process that involved checking the gears, the brakes, the switch-plug, and making adjustments to the spark and throttle. While three to five cranks were usually needed to start the car, the risk of a backfiring engine could send the crank handle spinning around counter-clockwise, bruising or breaking the automobilist’s bones.
There were other lessons quickly learned, or you suffered the consequences.
Motorists had to remember not to accidentally fill the gasoline tank with water or to strike a match when inspecting the carburetor. When driving after dark, the vehicle had to be stopped to turn on the headlamp, another procedure that could easily go haywire.
Mud on the primitive roads was a constant problem, as were blowouts of the weak, fabric tires then in use. Automobile breakdowns plagued almost every sojourn, and stranded motorists had little assurance that help was on the way. They could only hope that a fellow automobilist would happen by and rescue them.
The automobile was gaining popularity, and the problems screamed out for solutions. It was not surprising that the trials and tribulations of motoring motivated the rugged early pioneers to seek out one another.
Thanks for posting the Stanley Steamer article. Your readers my have knowledge of the “Ocean Shore Auto Stage” bus line that operated beginning in 1914 and continued even after the railroad folded. I would be most interested in hearing form anyone with more information. There may still be some people who remember seeing the steamers. Folks who remember the Ocean Shore Railroad or the April 18, 1906 Earthquake are few. During the 1970’s, when I started my quest for Ocean Shore Railroad history, I interviewed several people who recalled riding the railroad. Some were in grammar school when the whole class rode the train to San Francisco and toured the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition.
Thanks again, John [Schmale]
June: Here’s the Half Moon Bay Auto Stage that ran between Half Moon Bay and San Mateo in 1910. At the wheel is Tony Marsh. The stage car “lamps” used acetylene gas. The bumpy ride took two hours with a stop at Burns Store near the present day site of Skylawn Memorial Gardens (Lifemark)