Meet Alexander Gordon, the man who built Intricate Gordon’s Chute (and was a coastside supervisor)

From Alexander Gordon’s obit, Feb. 1912, Times-Gazette

“The deceased was twice a member of the State Legislature as assemblyman–in 1861 from Marin county and during the 1880s in this county [San Mateo]. He served the county as a supervisor from the coastside, and while a resident of this city was for several years a city councilman. His last years were quietly spent in his home on Phelps street at which his wife passed away in 1909.

“During the stirring Vigilante days the deceased was in San Francisco and saw many of the exciting events that were enacted at that time. He was present at the funeral of Senator Broderick who was shot by Judge Terry in a duel in 1856 and stood closer to Colonel Baker when he delivered his grand eulogy over the dead statesman. Mr. Gordon recalled vividly those memorable happenings and his stories of the old days, graphically told, were intensely interesting………”


[Note: Gordon’s Chute– an elaborate engineering feat that may have some evidence of its short life on one of the Coastside outstanding landmark cliffs– it is said the intricately woven structure was blown away in a wild storm with heavy winds. Whenever we drive north from San Gregorio along Hwy 1, and that perfect example of nature comes into view, I am, frankly, in awe. And with familiarity, the feeling intensifies.

The sculptress Sybil Easterday and her family lived at lonely Tunitas Creek with views of whatever was left of Gordon’s Chute in the 1890s into the 1900s. About 1916 Sybil married Louis Paulsen, who was related to the J.F. Wienke family, early hotel pioneers at Moss Beach, north of Half Moon Bay.

The Wienkes were anxious that the Ocean Shore Railroad build its iron road along the San Mateo County Coastside–with a train station near the hotel, of course. Louis Paulsen probably rode the train from San Francisco to Moss Beach (where the owners organized illegal cockfights) and then on to Tunitas Creek where he was invited to a dinner party hosted by Sybil. As an artist, Sybil loved to design her own menu place cards.

What was called “Long Bridge” crossed the creek and Sybil’s home stood near the bridge.

Tunitas Creek became the end-of-the-line for the soon-to-be-bankrupt railroad, an unpopulated, moody, rural landscape with a few buildings that belonged to the Ocean Shore company, as well as the saloon that Louis and Sybil operated. }

Meet Alexander Gordon, the man who built Gordon’s Chute (3)

From Alexander Gordon’s obit, Feb. 1912, Times-Gazette

“In 1863 Mr. Gordon moved to this county [San Mateo County] and located on the coast where he lived for many years. He acquired large land holdings and farmed on an extensive scale. He owned great warehouses on the ocean shore near San Gregorio and here he built what was known as Gordon’s Chute, a contrivance used in loading deep-water vessels by which the product of his farms and that of his neighbors was carried off to market.


“Mr. Gordon accumulated his wealth while a resident of this county, and when he made his home in this city twenty-five years ago, he ranked among the rich men of this state. Unfortunate investments, however, swept a large portion [including his contraption called Gordon’s Chute] of this away in later years.”

…………to be continued……….

Meet Alexander Gordon, the man who built Gordon’s Chute (and married his schoolteacher)

Alexander Gordon’s obit, Feb 1912, Times-Gazette

“Alexander Gordon was a native of New Hampshire, born in June 1826. He was educated in the public and private schools of his native State. In 1849 he came to California with the gold seekers and followed mining until 1852 when he purchased a hotel near old Hangtown in Placer county and continued in this business until 1853. Mr. Gordon, from his early training, was best fitted for a farmer’s life and in 1853 he moved to Marin county and became a dairyman and farmer on a large scale. It was while living in this part of the State that the deceased was married, this event being the culmination of a youthful romance.

“While Gordon was a boy in his native state one of his favorite teachers was Phoebe Lewis. The friendship between the teacher and the pupil ripened into love and when Mr. Gordon was comfortably situated in California, Miss Lewis journeyed to this state and the couple were married.” be continued..

Meet Alexander Gordon, the man who built Gordon’s Chute (1)

(Images: At left, Gordon’s Chute, at right, Alexander’s Gordon’s home near San Gregorio)

agordon.jpgRead his February, 1912 Times-Gazette obit:

“Another Pioneer Gone To His Rest…Death Ends Long and Honorable Career of Alexander Gordon

“Once more San Mateo County has been called upon to note the passing of a figure prominent in its history. Once more the call of the death angel has been heard among the rapidly thinning ranks of our early pioneers and Alexander Gordon has crossed the Great Divide to the haven of eternal rest with his Maker.

“Born among the granite hills of New Hampshire, deceased was endowed with a magnificent constitution which preserved by a regulated life, withstood the hardships of early combat far beyond the full allotment of three score and ten years. Imbued to the full with the higher attributes of manhood, he enjoyed more than the respect –almost the filial love –of the people of his city, among whom he had made his home for more than a quarter of a century.

“Perhaps no better record of the life work of this truly stalwart figure in the early foundation of this commonwealth can be found than the following sketch, compiled largely from a biographical history of the central section of this state.”

…to be continued…