Guests Kick Back At Montara Inn (1915)


When hotel rooms were sold out in San Francisco during the famous International Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915), rooms were available at the Montara Inn, built on the hillside overlooking the artist’s colony.

Or–are the guests actually posing outside the publisher Harr Wagner’s Montara home?

“Weevil” Coastside Indian: A Montara Legend?

Fact or fiction?

“Weevil” was a Coastside Indian who lived in a cave in the back of Montara. He always paid for everything in gold. According to local legend, Weevil had a gold mine.

Some locals discovered “Weevil’s” cave by nearly falling into it and took samples of the soil to a geologist who verified that it was a kind of gold dust. ….

Preview: Coming Soon: Map of Montara’s “Haneman Seaside Park”

montaramap.jpg Courtesy Bill Claudino

Reads: “The best located tract in the Montara-Farallone District. Every lot in tract is within three blocks of the Montara or Farallone Depots, with a perfect view of the Ocean and Montara Mountains. Surrounded on all sides by well developed property. Main sewers already laid. Sidewalks, water mains and street grading free of cost to purchaser. Splendid location for Home or Investment. Sold on reasonable terms.”

Reef & Wagner

Phone Douglas 4291 324 Phelan Building, SAN FRANCISCO

Ocean Shore Railroad Stops At Montara

Ocean Shore Railroad at Montara in the early 20th century
rr.jpgPhoto: Marjorie Borda

Marjorie Borda, who sent me this photo, was born in the “Wheeler House” in Montara in 1912. Her father, Willard B. Scott, worked for the Ocean Shore Railroad as a “telegrapher”, first at Montara, later at remote Tunitas Creek where she recalled artichokes as the main local crop.

[Image below: The “Wheeler House” in Montara.]

wheller house


Photo: That’s me, standing beside the jeep…on the old, very bumpy Pedro Mtn Rd, circa 1970s…Guess you can’t see me…but I was there….

And here’s Pedro Mtn Road when it was much newer…1915?


He Lived In Moss Beach: December 1977: “Jimmy The Weasel” Fratianno Arrested In

Connection With Two Gang Murders In Ohio

“James T. Fratianno, who resided at —— in Moss Beach, was arrested in San Francisco on Monday by the FBI in connection with two Ohio gangland killings. He is known as ‘Jimmy the Weasel’.

“Fratianno gave no resistance and was brought handcuffed into the FBI office in the federal building. He was one of eight persons named in the complaint filed earlier in the day in the eastern city.

“‘The Weasel’ was out on bail for nearly two weeks. He gave himself up to the FBI on the day before Thanksgiving after charges were announced aainst him for alleged crimes in the L.A. area.

“A federal racketeering criminal complaint alleges one charge of murder and conspiracy to commit two murders.

“Roy McKinnon, special FBI agent in charge, said a .22 caliber revolver was found in a secret under-the-seat compartment of Fratianno’s car. He had a prearranged meeting at the motel but was alone when arrested.

“McKinnon said the complaint alleges Fratianno was ‘an arranger in the murder of two men in the Cleveland area’.

“The agent said that the slayings were ‘gangland motivated: a struggle for power’ in Ohio. U.S. Magistrate Richard Goldsmith set his bail at $50,000.

“Fratianno, who moved to San Francisco last Friday, said he will post bail and go back to his hometown of Cleveland for a hearing set for defendants Friday.

“‘I wasn’t an actual participant in whatever happened. I wasn’t even there,’ said Fratianno. ‘I understand there is word I talked to someone. I can prove I was not there at the time’.

“The FBI affidavit identified one victim as John Nardi, a Cosa Nostra member from Cleveland and the other as Danny Greene, head of the ‘Irish mob’ in the area. Nardi was killed last May 17 by a bomb in a vehicle next to his car, while Greene died when a remote control bomb was detonated in his car on Oct. 6

“The FBI affidavit alleged that Raymond Ferritto, charged with participating in the Greene murder, told them he was a long time associate ‘of La Cosa Nostra member James ‘The Weasel’ Fratianno, who resides in California.

HMB Review, December 1977

I’ll have more on “Jimmy the Weasel” later….

Local Character “Billy the Kid”

was a competitive foot racer who kept in shape by running up to the top of Devil’s Slide and back everyday. That’s Devil’s Slide in the back of this amazing photo, taken when? I don’t know, early 20th century?

billythekid.jpgPhoto courtesy San Mateo County History Center. Visit the museum at the historic Redwood City courthouse.

1913: Pedro Mtn Rd Called For Coolest Heads, Firmest Hands & Strongest Brakes

In 1913 a “See America Firstâ€? travel campaign captured the imagination of new car owners, and hot on the trail of the trend, the California-based editors of “Motoringâ€? magazine recommended that readers “see Half Moon Bay firstâ€?.

What they called the “Kings Mountain to Half Moon Bayâ€? tour caught on quickly. “Motoringâ€? advised “camera fiendsâ€? to brings rolls of film to capture “the picture primeval and beautiful, as it is restless and wild.â€?

Clutching the steering wheel of the latest model Kissel Kar, the driver and his party of motor enthusiasts sampled the much talked about 1-day tour from Kings Mountain to Half Moon Bay.

For the jaunty motorists in the Kissel Kar, the Kings Mountain “roadâ€? resembled not a rocky brown trail but rather verses from an 18th century poem: “a long green lane canopied overhead with interlacing boughs.â€?


Traveling west over Tunitas Creek Road, they paused to contemplate an abandoned sawmill, overgrown with ferns. The Kissel Kar passed through the shadow-filled canyons bordered with vibrant green ferns and Redwood trees. The canyons opened up as the Pacific Ocean and the rolling hills came into view. The air felt cooler and the color of the landscape changed from green to earthy brown tones.


The new Kissel Kar swung north toward Half Moon Bay—then better known as “Spanishtownâ€?. The town’s mood was sleepy, compared with the wheeling and dealing that had dominated the area during the Ocean Shore Railroad real estate boom.


But when the automobile continued heading north to enjoy the spectacular views from Pedro Mountain Road near Montara—the editors of “Motoringâ€? magazine discouraged readers from following in their tire tracks.

“Even with a thoroughly reliable driver and trustworthy car,â€? advised the magazine, “Pedro Mountain road is in such poor condition that anyone going this way is simply inviting disaster.â€?


Underscoring the danger was a large sign that read: “DANGEROUS FOR AUTOMOBILES—TAKE ROAD VIA SAN MATEOâ€?

If they chose to ignore this sign, motorists encountered grades as steep as 25 percent in some places. The hairpin turns called for “the coolest heads, firmest hands and strongest brakes that a car can have.â€?

But while the driver and his passengers in the Kissel Kar warned others not to drive Pedro Mountain Road, they took the risks—and as a result, we can enjoy the photographs they took more than 90 years ago.

Nancy Maule: Notable Coastside Environmentalist




In 1980-81 I interviewed Montara environmentalist Nancy Maule at her Montara home for “The Mystery of Half Moon Bayâ€?. I don’t know what I expected but she looked like a stern schoolteacher. As soon as she began talking it was obvious that she was not only passionate about her beliefs but she knew the history of environmentalism on the Coastside.

A proposed freeway helped fuel Nancy’s activism (she didn’t drive a car when I met her). She recalled hosting a meeting in her living room organized to fight the freeway, with the preservation of open space the objective.

Nancy’s group considered the possibilities of a federal reserve stretching from Milagra Ridge to the north all the way south to Highway 92, encompassing some 40,000 acres.

“When we first arrived in the 1950s,â€? she told me, “there were no development plans. It was quiet until the early ‘60s. Then we heard [Henry] Doelger had huge plans to develop.â€?

[Doelger was eyeing Princeton-by-the-Sea for what he envisioned as a “Polynesian Villageâ€?, with all the “tropicalâ€? trappings you can imagine].

There’s a local legend, Nancy said. “Doelger brought the president of the Bank of America to one of the hilltops, waved his hand, and said: ‘Eureka! We’ve found it! Here’s my new city’. The Bank of America president thought it was a great idea.

“….The only plans effectively carried out can be seen in Half Moon Bay—which delineates the philosophical attitude between Half Moon Bay and the rest of the Coastside,â€? Nancy said, adding that “All growth comes to pass in Half Moon Bay.â€?

Note: Nancy Maule’s group of activists successfully picketed Henry Doelger’s project at Princeton. The big developer’s plans for a “Polynesian Fishing Village” fell through but he did construct a housing subdivision across the way, on the east side of Highway 1.