1898: The Half Moon Bay-Pescadero Tiff: Part I


In February, 1898, the villagers of Pescadero had had enough of the stream of unrelenting criticism dished out by a visiting contingent from Half Moon Bay. What was the problem? It was about everything in general, but specifically, the poisonous word darts were aimed at the fence surrounding the local cemetery where some of the gravestones were artfully decorated with stones gathered from nearby famous Pebble Beach.

As soon as the offending party from Half Moon Bay left on the stagecoach, the Pescaderans met and decided to forgo sending a formal thank you along with freshly made olallieberry pies–and instead offered a caustic serving of what was on their minds.

The timing of the visit was unfortunate. The tug-of-war over who owned tiny, precious Pebble Beach had made its way through the courts, subjecting the Pescaderans to ruthless scrutiny in the press. That fiasco had been instigated by the village’s best known resident-villain, the litigious millionaire landowner Loren Coburn.

He said he owned Pebble Beach, treasured as one of the village’s family jewels–an 1898 one-of-a-kind beach attraction that brought horse and buggy tourists and prosperity to quaint Pescadero. Coburn planned to charge an admittance fee and that did not sit well with the locals who were used to roaming about everywhere freely.

To demonstrate his power, Loren Coburn closed the beach sending Pescadero’s fragile economy into a tailspin. Depending on which newspaper you read, the press either wagged a disapproving finger at the Pescaderans or at Coburn, sometimes both, but the upshot of the testy affair was that tourists stopped visiting and spending money in Pescadero.

…To be continued…