19th Century Storm: Condition of things at Half Moon Bay (after “the late storm”)


Thanks to John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

From the  January 14, 1862 issue of the Daily  Alta, published in San Francisco

Condition of things at Half Moon Bay

 From a gentleman who arrived this afternoon from Half Moon Bay, we learn that considerable damage was done at that place by the late storm. Three-fourths of the bridge at Spanish Town was carried away by the floods. A man named Ransom H. Wood, recently from Contra Costa, and originally from Vermont, was drowned in an attempt to cross the Creek, on Saturday morning.

 The surf struck his boat and capsized her. He was then carried out by the undertow, and all efforts to save him proved unavailing. Our informant also tells us what the Peruvian bark, the loss of which was narrated in the “Alta” this morning, went to pieces twenty-four hours after she struck. She is a total loss. He knows nothing of the other vesselwhich, it was said, went ashore further south.


 Such a fierce storm deserves an entry in “Wikipedia.” To read, please click here


The bridge mentioned in the above Daily Alta article may very well be the concrete one built in 1900—that’s still there, near the Pasta Moon restaurant. The bridge was said to be the first steel-reinforced concrete bridge in the world.  Before that, it must have regularly washed out during winter storms.


[This story, also published by the Daily Alta, comes from a correspondent in Purisima!.)

The Flood of 1862.


Half Moon Bay District.

We are indebted to Messrs. Miller & Hopkins” Half Moon Bay Express for the following from: Purisima, January 10, 1862

The flood has been most disastrous on this creek, especially to M.N.C. Lane. About two or three acres of ground slid into the creek above the saw mill, overwhelming th barn, and killing instantly tow valuable horses and four oxes. It then struck the Suelling House, completely demolishing it.

Mr. Lane had just completed his house and furnished it with new and costly furniture, which is all a perfect wreck.

The family saved themselves with difficulty, having only four or five minutes notice before the water bore the house away, and dashed it in piece among redwood trees, hundreds of feet long, and many of them six or eight feet in diameter. The most remarkable incident that occurred during the disaster was the saing of the piano forte. While almost every other article was either crushed to fragments, or borne away by the resistless torrent, the piano was lifted on the top of a large redwood log, and deposited unharmed, some distance below the general wreck.

All along the creek, roads and bridges are completely washed away, or much injured as to be impassable, and every hillside bears evidence, in numerous slides, of the devastating power of the storms.


Saturday morning presented a scene seldom witnessed in our quiet community. After Purissima has a fall of about seventy feet over the bluff, into the ocean. Over this cataract, borne by the turbid flood, were hurled in wild confusion the debris of denuded ranches, dwellings, outhouses and fences, mixed with giant redwood trees and logs, and the whole precipitated into the boiling surf and thrown high upon the jagged rocks of this ironbound coast.


Gray Gardner on Where to Watch a Good Coastside Storm

Email Gray Gardner: [email protected]

June-The best place for me was our old Beach House,on the beach below the Distillery,with the Waves breaking against the Reef and the”Pillar”,with the Lights of Distillery illuminating it all. The house was built  on the same lava formation as the Reef,and would shake with the wave hits .If  it was High Tide,the waves would fill the depression in front of the house………we would fire-up the  cast-  iron Fire Place, put Wagner on Bob’s Stereo  (Which was one of the best on the Coastside at that time).Turn the lights off and drink Hot  Spiced Rum until  Dawn!


June: Gray, who’s the “Bob” you mention?


Bob, Was Bob Garretson who I’m sure still has a few friends on the Coastside.We shared the Beach House from 1971 to 1975,

Bob later moved on to live on the North Fork of the Feather River Canyon at the Maple Leaf Inn,Steve Clark,who used to play Guitar  at the Distillery  lived there also. .For those who remember Steve,and his long hair, the last time I saw him in 1985 he had a crew cut.Bob later moved to Tucson,He was the one who saw the former owners of the “Ace of Cups”,I noted a while back.


Best Regards

Gray Gardner

Excelsio Springs,Mo.

Help me out here..Best Windows to Watch Coastside Storms From?

I wish I had been home to enjoy the weekend Coastside storm I heard so much about.

Strong winds, heavy, constant rain. Cold enough for a fireplace, perhaps, or a warm hat, coat and a wool blanket. And a window to watch it all from.

A “window” could be the glass kind we are all accustomed to–but a “window” could also be the view from a favorite sand dune.

Where’s the best place to watch a good Coastside storm?

(I was home on Monday when sheets of rain delighted all of my senses. I didn’t completely miss the first