…1920/1978….Near El Granada


I used the top photo for the cover of my 1978 book, “Half Moon Bay Memories: The Coastside’s Colorful Past.” It’s an advertisement for the automobile featured, a circa 1920 Mitchell. I had a very large copy of the photo produced for the San Benito House, where the classic picture still hangs today.


I’m not certain where, precisely, on the Coastside , the 1920 photo was shot, but in the late 1970s, on a lark, I tried to find a spot that looked like it–and that’s what you see in the bottom photo. The vehicle is a propane fueled Jeep that looked great but never worked properly.

Now we know who lived in the El Granada Bathhouse during Prohibition…

The Bathhouse at El Granada beach


was built during the Ocean Shore Railroad era, in anticipation of serving beach-going visitors, but when the iron road failed, the Bathhouse became home for the Mearini family. This is the first I’d heard of anyone living in the Bathhouse–that no longer stands at El Granada Beach.
From the email I received today:

” Gino Mearini was a teenager, and helped to bring the whiskey ashore [during Prohibition] after it was unloaded from the boats that were anchored out in the bay. He and his family lived at the “Bath House” in El Granada. He can tell you about a high tide that caused waves to slam against the house, and wash away some of the out buildings and chicken coops into the artichoke fields, etc. etc…”

The El Granada Observer looks forward to visiting Mr. Mearini soon!

Ocean Shore Railroad’s “Yard” at Granada

The “yard” at Granada may have served as a third Ocean Shore Railroad station. The other two were located at North Granada, where the much remodeled building still stands, and in central Granada, now a private residence, which was moved several hundred yards from its original location.

Ocean Shore Railroad El Granada: Which House was the Wiegels?

This is the bottom of page 142 where two photos of homes are displayed. Which one belonged to J. Mason Wiegel?


In 1979, after publication of “Half Moon Bay Memories: The Coastside’s Colorful Past,” I received this letter from J. Mason Wiegel. Mr. Wiegel, an attorney, was also the publisher and editor of the Weekly Law Digest, headquartered in San Francisco’s Mills Building on Montgomery Street.

He wrote:

“…I lived in the house in the canyon that you picture at the bottom of your page 142 [see above photo] for a number of years ending in 1920. My father had purchased the wooded hills back of El Granada form the subdividers a few years earlier. I graduated from Miramar Grammar School in 1920, where one teacher taught all eight grades. We moved to S.F. when the railroad service terminated, and he sold the property in 1921.”

My best wishes, Sincerely J. Mason Wiegel

Meet Ron Schmidt, Grandson of Dante “The Artichoke King” Dianda

Photos: at left, Dante Dianda, El Granada’s “Artichoke King” with unidentified woman and Alessio Mearini. Mearini was born in Arezzo, Italy and immigrated to the U.S. in 1914. He ws a partner and cook at Dianda’s ranch. Alessio Mearini stands next to Dianda in photo at right.

Ron Schmidt (RS): My Mother was Dante Dianda’s third child. I am curious about the photo of Dante with the other two people. It is not his son-in-law nor his son.
Where does the picture come from?

HMBM: Hi Ron,

I believe I got that photo from a Mr. Vellutini–I may have the spelling of his name wrong–I interviewed him in El Granada years ago. He is now gone. He said he had worked for Mr. Patroni at the Patroni House in Princeton during Prohibition.

Who do you think the people might be? I want to get it right. Please tell me something about yourself.

RS: I do not know who the two people are in the photo.

I know everyone who was around the farm and the men who worked there.

I know a great deal about Dante; he was influential in my philosophy of life and I have great respect for memories he has left me.

We have found just this year his relatives in Italy. We will be traveling to Italy next April.

If you have specific questions I would be happy to answer them.

Continue reading “Meet Ron Schmidt, Grandson of Dante “The Artichoke King” Dianda”

Granada (2)

Photo: After lunch on the beach, a look at available lots]

[Note: I wrote this story about El Granada in 1977.]

Snuggled against the mountains and facing a bay of incomparable beauty, the isolated hamlet [Granada] offered the best of two worlds: a desirable place to build a home and raise a family while fast commuter trains promised to deliver residents to their jobs in San Francisco.

A real estate agent from the Charles Kendrick Co. told his audience that the Ocean Shore Railroad planned to build a large casino, hotel and bathing pavillion overlooking the gray-blue Pacific.

“And any one you,” he said, “can buy a lot now, at low, low prices, and still enjoy the wonders of Granada while you watch your investment double.”

After listening to such a convincing sales pitch, followed by an unforgettable afternoon bag lunch on Granada’s sheltered, picturesque beach, people were ready to buy building lots.

And by the time these picnickers and lot speculators returned home on the train, they were bubbling with excitement. Before long as many as 1727 lots were sold, a total of $976,779. From that moment on, promoters stepped up publicity of the Coastside paradise on a grand scale.

…….to be continued………

(1)”Granada–the magnificent Burnham City which will be to San Francisco

what Atlantic City is to Philadelphia–what Coney Island is to New York–what Long Beach is to Los Angeles.”

[From 1900s advertisement, Chas. H. Kendrick Co., as it appeared in “The Last Whistle” by Jack Wagner–My story was written in 1977.]

AS the conductor announced the last call for Granada, a family of Sunday picnickers elbowed their way through the noisy crowd. After stepping off the train, the foursome followed other passengers walking toward the lovely new North Granada train station, with its graceful architectural touches– the arches– reminiscent of Stanford University’s Quad– finished off with a fine Spanish red tiled roof.

Many regular train-takers described the North Granada station as the most attractive on the entire Ocean Shore line–there were pretty ones in Moss Beach and Montara, too.

In the middle of the colorful scene at the train station, all heads looked up as a balloonist, suspended high above the ground, scattered a paper shower of pamphlets. One woman wearing a beribboned hat and full, long dress bent down to pick up the booklet which promised to reveal the bright future of Granada: the jewel of the coast.

Sales reps from Charles H. Kendrick Co., who identified themselves as the sole agents for Granada, attracted a swarm of interested home buyers. The men from Kendrick followed a script, warmly welcoming everyone to Granada–quickly advising that few had seen this spectacular part of the coast before. One real estate agent emphasized that the Ocean Shore Railway had chosen Granada as the centerpiece of an ambitious plan including a seaside resort, unlike any seen before.

…..to be continued…