A Short History Of The Ocean Shore Railroad (Part II): Read The DEJA VU

“There were landslides from time to time. The Pedro Pt/Devil’s Slide area was a particularly bad section. On one occasion, I think around 1915, as a result of some fairly torrential storms, about a mile-and-a-half or two miles of right-of-way track just suddenly dropped from right under and fell into the ocean…”

As told to me in 1980 by Randolph Brandt, whose father was an investor, a stockholder, in the Ocean Shore Railroad:

“In 1907 they got a train into Rockaway, no Vallemar. I think the first train rolled into Vallemar around 1907. They sent an engine down there with two coaches—and a load of people, a lot of promotion and activity.

“People were assured that this was going to be the new ‘Coney Island of the West’. All sorts of grandiose plans and promoters were springing up. And these communities along the way which were yet unnamed—were coming to life like Granada.

“…The depot in San Francisco was located at 12th & Mission Streets. …

“They even invited people to go down on weekends to give ‘em a free ride down there—and a free lunch—and then when you got off the train down there, all these salesmen were there busy. Sales slips, you know, sign on the dotted line to buy lots.

“They assured people the railroad would be finished within a year or two—and have wonderful rapid transit right into the heart of San Francisco. Business was so good for awhile that they didn’t have enough coaches so they dragged out a bunch of flat cars and put benches in them, you know, and people rode flat cars with benches down there.

“If any of you have eer driven in an open car along here [Devil’s Slide] when it’s pretty windy, you can imagine how some of the ladies must have felt having their hats blow off—and I don’t know what else especially when they’re going around Pedro Point and Devil’s Slide.

“It gets pretty windy—especially looking over the edge of a flat car and seeing the ocean down below on the edge of the cliff.â€?

Randolph Brandt smiled and laughed.

“Must have been quite an experience.

“There were landslides from time to time. The Pedro Pt/Devil’s Slide area was a particularly bad section. On one occasion, I think around 1915, as a result of some fairly torrential storms, about a mile-and-a-half or two miles of right-of-way track just suddenly dropped from right under and fell into the ocean.

“Luckily, there were no trains in the area at the time.

“It disrupted service for awhile. They ran trains as far as they could go to where the right-of-way caved off—enough space left, apparently, and then brought in a train from the south and passengers got off the train, walked along the edge of cliff ‘til they got to the other train—and then ran the train backwards all the way to Tunitas [south of Half Moon Bay]

“Another problem—the boulders came off the cliffs every once in a while onto the track….â€?

…To be continued…

A Short History Of The Ocean Shore Railroad (Part I)

train.jpgA Short History Of The Ocean Shore Railroad (Part I)

As told to me in 1980 by Randolph Brandt, whose father was an investor, a stockholder, in the Ocean Shore Railroad:

“He, like a number of other people in the days when the stock was being offered to the public market, thought it was a good thing and it apparently was.

“There are a number of banks and prominent people—quite a number of people, well-heeled financially that invested money in it. Mr. Downey Harveyt there, was one of the original promoters of the line and he dropped, I think, around $2 million in it. Of course, he was one of those people that inherited the money, you know, didn’t have to work for it.

“And another man who was pretty well-off financially, too, was Mr. Foelder of the well known Foelger Coffee Company, and he dropped quite a bit of money into it—somewhere between a million and a million-and-a-half.

“In those days, a million was not considered pennies.

“When they got this thing started—it was just before the earthquake, well, 1905, well, railroads were springing up all over the place, up and down the state—from one end to the other they were starting to build…

“Why not a line down the coast to Santa Cruz?

“One of the reasons was tht they figured if they built the line through to Santa Cru they could take a lot of the business away from the SP [Southern Pacific], which had the monopoly up ‘til then by going the other way.

“Look like a good proposition. No one else was in there. They started work from both ends with one crew working from San Francisco south, another crew starting from Santa Cru, working north.

“Got along fine until a certain day in April 1906 when they had an earthquake. One of things they didn’t’ anticipate was a good deal of construction equipment, particularly in the area around Mussel Rock tumbled off the right-of-way and down into the ocean.

“A considerable financial loss.

“And part of the right-of-way, likewise, followed the equipment into the ocean—more financial loss—and additional expenditures the promoters hadn’t figured on.

“Recovered from that somehow and they pared down the project a bit as a result of that. One of the shortcomings of the original promoters was that they were a little too grandiose in their ideas. They started out—it was planned as a double-track electric, actually, to run from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, via Half Moon Bay.

“Better off if they’d started out with a single-track steam line. Then as business justified it, then extending to double-track, they might have succeeded. When you grade for a double-track along the line it actually costs you more than if you grade for a single track, so it means more money out. Since they never used the double track, well, it was just money wasted…”

Photo: Randolph Brandt

…To be continued…

Coastside Has History Of Shuttle Buses


The Coastside has a history of shuttle “buses”. This one shuttled passengers from San Gregorio, Pescadero and Swanton to Santa Cruz and back. Note the conductor sitting on his perch.

I wonder if our new shuttle be as colorful.

Photo: Randolph Brandt

Ed Bauer Talks About Growth In 1980


Ed Bauer moved to Half Moon Bay in 1960 where he became the publisher and editor of the Half Moon Bay Review for about 25 years.

(In 1980 I interviewed him for my documentary, “The Mystery of Half Moon Bayâ€?. Here are some quotes that did not air).

On Growth:

“The community was essentially rural [when Ed arrived in 1960]. A rural community with an emphasis on agriculture. And it was just beginning to change from an agricultural area to a commuter or suburban area.

“When I came here they were building 9-10 houses a year on the whole Coastside—that would be from San Gregorio into Montara.

“And the cost of lots in Montara was from $300 to $400 which was less than the sewer assessment for the lot. So it was still pretty much…I’d describe it s a rural area in transition….

“…In the 1960s I made a statement that I didn’t want to see Half Moon Bay become another Pacifica. We wanted balanced growth. We didn’t want to see ultra-high density population and rows and rows f houses with no open space.

“What we were looking for was balanced growth. There’s enough area over here for a balance in the growth.

“I think this is what the City of Half Moon Bay has been attempting to accomplish—of having a balance between open space and housing.

“One of our biggest concerns was the people of San Francisco—we could see them pouring into Pacifica which had this ultra-high population density. And, with this came problems in schools, crime, and traffic, public activities and taxes.

“You get what’s called a ‘bedroom community’ which has an economic imbalance.

“We want to have some agriculture. We wanted to have some fishing. We wanted to have jobs for people who live here…â€?


On the Coastal Commission

“Parts of coastal communities in California are exempt from the Coastal Commision: L.A., Santa Cruz, San Francisco, exempt. By political pressure they were able to get special concessions because they have more political muscle.

“The Coastal Commission is one law for one group, another law for another group.

“Half Moon Bay, because of the lack of political muscle, couldn’t stand up to the Coastal Commission the way other cities could on the coast.

“Frenchman’s Creek is a typical example. Quite a few homes were bought by people who lived in the area, then they made a return on their houses at Frenchman’s Creek. Some of
the very same people have gone to the Golf Links.

“…I don’t think Montara Mountain is going to be packed with house side-byside. I think even if the Coastal Commission hadn’t been in effect, there are certain pressures operating, just like they operated against the Ocean Shore Railroad.â€?

Hwy 92: “Unofficial” Survey Results Are In

Half Bay Memories & the El Granada Observer has commissioned an unofficial survey of the number of big commercial trucks and big rigs traveling to and fro on Highway 92.

And the numbers from this unofficial “eye countâ€? are in.

“Approximately every sixth vehicle,â€? according to the ‘eye count’ survey, “is either a large commercial vehicle or big rig sandwiched in between commuter and passenger cars and smaller working trucks traveling to and from the Coastside during daylight hours on the weekdays.â€?

Well, there you have it. Every sixth vehicle is a large truck or big rig.

Are they all going to Devil’s Slide, to help fix the broken road?

Are they going to the dump?

Where are they going?

Should they be on the road during daylight hours while Devil’s Slide is closed, making life miserable for commuters and almost impossible for those who would come to shop and visit the Coastside?

Playing At El Granada Beach 1930s

Follow the 1930s bathing beauties at El Granada beach–see the bountiful sand dunes? Today this beach is better known as “Surfer’s Beach”. You won’t find any sand dunes, though….




(From a Chamber of Commerce Promotional Film, 1930s that appeared in my 1981 documentary, “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay”)

1913: Pedro Mtn Rd Called For Coolest Heads, Firmest Hands & Strongest Brakes

In 1913 a “See America Firstâ€? travel campaign captured the imagination of new car owners, and hot on the trail of the trend, the California-based editors of “Motoringâ€? magazine recommended that readers “see Half Moon Bay firstâ€?.

What they called the “Kings Mountain to Half Moon Bayâ€? tour caught on quickly. “Motoringâ€? advised “camera fiendsâ€? to brings rolls of film to capture “the picture primeval and beautiful, as it is restless and wild.â€?

Clutching the steering wheel of the latest model Kissel Kar, the driver and his party of motor enthusiasts sampled the much talked about 1-day tour from Kings Mountain to Half Moon Bay.

For the jaunty motorists in the Kissel Kar, the Kings Mountain “roadâ€? resembled not a rocky brown trail but rather verses from an 18th century poem: “a long green lane canopied overhead with interlacing boughs.â€?


Traveling west over Tunitas Creek Road, they paused to contemplate an abandoned sawmill, overgrown with ferns. The Kissel Kar passed through the shadow-filled canyons bordered with vibrant green ferns and Redwood trees. The canyons opened up as the Pacific Ocean and the rolling hills came into view. The air felt cooler and the color of the landscape changed from green to earthy brown tones.


The new Kissel Kar swung north toward Half Moon Bay—then better known as “Spanishtownâ€?. The town’s mood was sleepy, compared with the wheeling and dealing that had dominated the area during the Ocean Shore Railroad real estate boom.


But when the automobile continued heading north to enjoy the spectacular views from Pedro Mountain Road near Montara—the editors of “Motoringâ€? magazine discouraged readers from following in their tire tracks.

“Even with a thoroughly reliable driver and trustworthy car,â€? advised the magazine, “Pedro Mountain road is in such poor condition that anyone going this way is simply inviting disaster.â€?


Underscoring the danger was a large sign that read: “DANGEROUS FOR AUTOMOBILES—TAKE ROAD VIA SAN MATEOâ€?

If they chose to ignore this sign, motorists encountered grades as steep as 25 percent in some places. The hairpin turns called for “the coolest heads, firmest hands and strongest brakes that a car can have.â€?

But while the driver and his passengers in the Kissel Kar warned others not to drive Pedro Mountain Road, they took the risks—and as a result, we can enjoy the photographs they took more than 90 years ago.

Montara Bob Responds To The Shuttle Futtle: “Mad As Hell, Not Gonna Take It Anymore” Devil’s Slide Email

Hello June,

Thanks for running the SF Examiner piece on the shuttle bus.

I used to read the Examiner regularly but these days the only place I can get reliable information about Devil’s Slide is online, mostly from you.

Maybe I’m a bit dim but I don’t understand what this shuttle is supposed to do.

Does it run just north and south, on highway 1? I thought we already had buses that do that (the ones I see are always empty).

One thing’s for sure. May the Good Lord protect us from any organization that’s called the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance. It’s bound to cause more trouble than any good.

And who, in heaven’s name, ever heard of the Parking Company of America? Just what we needed– another entity sucking up taxpayer money.

Well, I hope these shuttles are well marked so at least we’ll know who these folks are that are making traffic even worse.

Why didn’t they just take the $160,000 and apply it to fixing the Slide? Maybe that would help get Devil’s Slide open an hour sooner.

Montara Bob

Devil’s Slide: “Mad As Hell, Not Gonna Take It Anymore” Email

So the politicians have a “solution” to the Devil’s Slide Crisis:
an expensive government shuttle, with the dough going to
the Parking Company of America (how appropriate).

It will enable Coastsiders to sit in a dirty
bus for hours, and then drop you off in inconvenient locations
on the Coastside and elsewhere, so you can take more
socialist buses.Talk about time-wasting, money-wasting baloney.
Let’s put the bureaucrats and politicians on the bus permanently,
and Open Devil’s Slide, Now.

Lew From Far Away