Early South Coast Conservationist: Theodore Hoover (4)

At some point it became clear to many that Herbert Hoover was destined for greatness. He fulfilled that expectation by becoming a post-World War I international hero and later the 31st president of the United States.

By contrast, brother Theodore’s future appeared more modest, although he did become the dean of the School of Engineering at Stanford and traveled extensively with wife Mildred.

Theodore never had high political ambition but when something caught his fancy he could become willful and tenacious.

By 1898, he was enthralled with the sight of the beautiful Waddell Canyon near the San Mateo-Santa Cruz county line. Describing the stunning natural grandeur, he wrote of the “fern-carpeted redwood forest,” the “polychromic blue Pacific” and the “little Waddell river with its still pools and singing ripples running through the meadowed valley into the wide lagoon…”

The scenery was unforgettable, a setting of incomparable beauty, bursting with energy. “The Waddell” became an indelible image, forever a part of Theodore Hoover’s life.

…to be continued…

The Earthen Corral


(Photo: Home that belonged to Vic Guerrero, son of Francisco. Later it was used as a small hotel).

Francisco Guerrero continued to spend a great deal of time in San Francisco. In 1850 he was murdered as he stood near the corner of Mission and 12th Streets. The fatal injury occured when a man following him on horseback struck him about the head with a slingshot.

On April 12, 1863 as Tiburcio Vasquez was seated near a window in a Half Moon Bay saloon, a volley of gunshots rang out. When it was all over, Vasquez was found dead, and the elusive murderer escaped.

At the time both Vasquez and Guerrero were witnesses for the prosecution in the famous Santillian land fraud case.


The Earthen Corral

pablo.jpg (Photo: In better times, this is what Pablo Vasquez’s barn looked like. Located near the Main Street Bridge in Half Moon Bay, it was demolished in the 1977s).

This left the northern 7,766 acres of the Corral de Tierra to Francisco Guerrero. Throughout his career, Guerrero held various political jobs in San Francisco. The common dividing line between the two halves of the Corral de Tierra was determined by the Arroyo de en Medio Creek in Miramar.

Guerrero built a ranch house known as te Guerrero Adobe on a hillside near a creek about one mile northeast of Princeton. Until 1906 the house was in fair condition, and included four rooms on the ground floor with an attic above. A porch extended across the entire front.

Tiburcio Vasquez constructed the first adobe in Half Moon Bay. Consisting of five small roms, it stood on the north bank of Pilarcitos Creek, northwest of the bridge in Half Moon Bay. His youngest son, Pablo, built a frame house nearby (now headquarters of DelMar Properties, a real estate firm). Pablo loved horses and he opened a livery business in an old barn near his home. The barn, erected in 1846, and which had fallen into severe disrepair, was demolished on February 18, 1977 as ordered by the City of Half Moon Bay.

…to be continued…

The Earthen Corral

In the 1840s the Corral de Teirra was divided intow two Mexican land grants. Tiburico Vasquez (sometimes confused with his nephew, a notorious bandit hung in San Jose in 1875) ran two thousand head of cattle and 200 horses on his 4,436-acre rancho.

Vasquez didn’t just fall from the sky; he had been the supervisor of the Mission Dolores livestock in San Francisco when he applied for the southern portion of this immense land grant.

…to be continued…

The Earthen Corral

Festive rodeos lasting several days were commonplace around Miramar in the 1840s. Accompanied by much merry-making and feasting, the round-ups included scores of “rancherosâ€?, or owners, and their cowboys or “vaqueros.â€?

These exciting occasions were highlighted with spirited competition among the vaqueros to excel in horsemanship and use of the lasso.

Cattle chosen for later slaughter were lassoed by the vaqueros; thrown down and burned with owner’s hot brand. Otherwise the wild animals were released and allowed the roam another year on the Corral de Tierra.

The Corral de Tierra [encompassing the present day communities of Montara, Moss Beach, Princeton, El Granada, Miramar, stretching to Pilarcitos Creek in Half Moon Bay] means earth corral. It was so named because the surrounding geographical features form a natural enclosure for cattle.

Up until 1840 Mission Dolores used the land for grazing. The Coastside was isolated territory, cut off from civilization by mountainous barriers, and the hills concealed a considerable population of mountain lions and grizzly bears.


St. Matthew’s Land by Coastside artist Galen Wolf (Part X)


It [the sea] strewed beach wood everywhere and created the aquarium-like pools flowering with anemone and garnished with kelp and sea urchins.

Big-faced capazoni, like Chinese fish-kites, prowled the reefs. Swift cod of many colors swam deep, and flashing silver schools awoke the sea birds and fishermen to intense activity.

The sea held the fog and the coolness, and never were the coastland people unaware of its pervasive presence.

The mountains, the sea, the indifferent access, kept this slender coastal plain apart in time and in ways of life for years. It acquired a serene and unspectacular beauty.

Houses and barns turned weather grey. Moss formed golden green patina on the roofs and fences. Thick hedges of cypress and eucalyptus, intended as windbreaks, helped compose pictures so lovely no artist could pass them by.

Glimpses down steep gullies to the blue or the froth of waves intensified the color. The warm greens of the varied brush was dusted in gold by yellow flowers–the lupin, the wormwood and the primrose.

With a sad heart one sees the change. A new day cannot be denied. Old shingles are replaced with tin or corrugated roofing. Trees are ruthlessly cut. The lovely curves of old roads are lost. A painter feels a desperation to record what is left, what is passing so fast.

This San Mateo, this Saint Matthew’s land, was rich and old when most of California was raw and unknown. The Spaniard had here achieved a courtesy, a hospitality, a serenity almost without historic compare.

There are times, moments, when we still may feel this enduring magic. Try it. Walk in the warm deserted canyons as October sun makes Indian summer. You will feel the spell, more tangible than dream.

In glades that have not changed at all, the centuries drop away. The day and the mood of Spain are here.

Quail leap up and take flight. The muted thunder of their wings becomes the mutter of Spanish drums. Along fence rows the pomp and glory and hope of a vanished empire stand in its bannered colors.

In purple and gold, the dusty ranks of aster and goldenrod ask remembrance of the birthday of our homeland. With joyful hearts we answer and celebrate and a strange benediction is ours and a renewed love of our heritage.

[The End]


St. Matthew’s Land by Coastside artist Galen Wolf (Part IX)


The galleons had long given way to a new ship, the clipper. These now came in an endless stream to San Francisco. The ocean that fought these fast ships for the months-long voyage of the Horn, sometimes seized them on the very doorstep of their arrival.

The cargoes of these wrecks became a part of the sea-bordering life. Pescadero folk salvaged so much white lead from the stranded Columbia that the town was known as the whitest in California.

from the wreck of the Sir John Franklin, extravagant furniture for the gaudy hotels of San Francisco’s tenderloin district, fell into the hands of the Steele family. The New York provided tea and ginger, the Ridal Hall silk thread.

In a happier mood the waves cast countless thousands of sea shells upon the sand. They ranged from ponderous abalone to fragile translucent fan shells. The sea polished myriads of pebbles and left them in shoals at Pebble Beach and Columbia Beach.

…to be continued…

St. Matthew’s Land by Coastside artist Galen Wolf (Part VIII)


A brief-lived port at Pigeon Point terminated in a gun duel and bloodshed sharp and ugly as western literature can provide.

Power on land was generally horses. The plowing, hauling, stages and buggies all needed them. Hay growing turned the fields sweet with harvest.

In logging, however, it was the powerful and calm ox that was used. He could pull and he could not be easily upset by the crash of trees and the vicissitudes of timber cutting. These beasts weighed a ton apiece, and though gentle, were terrible to behold.

Portuguese, mostly from the Azores, came early. Some were fishermen, some whalers. At Beluta’s Beach and at the Old Landing they dragged their many-oared boats ashore and relaunched them at the cry “Thar she blows!”

Farming was the mainstay of these gentle people. They were flower lovers and no home had the awful desolation of many midwest houses of that period. Instead they were embowered in over-running roses, nasturium, geranium and fuchsia. In the fields they planted the horse bean and the pea.

The harvests went on in the wet fogs of summer. If the palaces of the eastern hills had much of the Renaissance and the baroque about them, these harvesters, standing or kneeling in wet, glistening oilskins, recreated the tableau of Millet’s “Angelus”. This was a humble land and a gentle folk.

….to be continued…

St. Matthew’s Land by Coastside artist Galen Wolf (Part VII)

A salute to the flexible and heroic people of the new age, who seemingly are not obviously discouraged.

Let us return to a land whose semi-isolation is taking longer for the fairy wand of progress to bring its ambivalent magic.

Over the western ridge lies the narrow coastal shelf, the land of the sea. It is green always and cool forever. And its ways have been paced and slow.

Its people look out on the sea. The sea and the sea world are never apart from them.

Long before the brothers of St. Francis had worn the Camino, the coast had known of the Spaniard.

Indians, crouched about a smoky clam bake or mussel feed had seen strange apparitions pass in the mist to seaward. High awkward shapes, but buoyant as sea birds. They were the Manila galleons of Spain.

Before Drake and not long after Magellan, these ships were taking short-circle route, making landfall near the Columbia’s mouth. Hence to La Paz, to take on Loreto’s pearls and tranship at Panama.

They skirted the coast closely, but with the Spanish distaste for fog, they did not land. A century would pass before they would come to California.

It was the Franciscan brothers, Serra, Palou and Lasuen, who came, with conversion of the heathen Indian as their intention. Missions were started. The Camino became well marked and well travelled long before these sun lovers accepted the coast as a home.

Spanish grants were allotted. Many passed intact through the Mexican days.

Presently disappointed gold diggers moved to the coastal land, and then the Scots, irish and occasional German. Mostly from Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska and Kansas, sometimes Kentucky and Tennessee, they were imaginative and enterprising folk.

Roads of a primitive sort soon were built. Sawmills were set up, stores opened and steamer landings constructed. A very active period began. San Francisco was hungry–for everything. Lumber, grain, potatoes, cheese and butter.

Little steam schooneers landed at the Old Landing (Princeton), at the New Landing or Amesport (Miramar) or lay to anchor at Gordon’s Chute (Tunitas). Just beyond the county, and used by Pescadero ranchers, was Davenport.

…to be continued…

St. Matthew’s Land by Coastside artist Galen Wolf (Part VI)

galenwolf.jpg (Photo: The Coastside artist Galen Wolf posing somewhere on his property at Frenchman’s Creek, north of Half Moon Bay).

The War and the Korean War suddenly overflowed the bay area. A new, almost unrecognizable county swiftly came to overlay the quiet fields and hills. It was marked with every facet of today.

Immense roads, overpasses, crowded traffic, tract homes and supermarkets were jammed alike with the crowds and tensions of a swarming life.

We will invoice only its assets. Many good and prosperous people, living in a gentle healthy climate. Fine schools, libraries, parks, dustless roads and well-kept lawns everywhere. Houses furnished with immaculate plumbing, formica drains, television and two-car garages. Often too a plywood boat with outboard motor hanging to its square transom.

Busy endless goings and comings in glistening automatic cars. Nearby industries, mostly electronic and often quite secret. The five-day week with its long weekend. A truly volcanic stream of traffic going to the crowded places.

…To be continued…