La Peninsula: How Maverick’s Works by Montara resident Bruce Jenkins

& The Many Sides of Pigeon Point by JoAnne Semones

Review by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])


Hi June,
I was just reading the Winter issue of “La Peninsula,” the Journal of the San Mateo Historical Association. The cover and first twelve pages are devoted to an excellent article about Maverick’s by Bruce Jenkins, a Montara resident. Bruce, the advisor to the History Museum’s interactive Maverick’s exhibit and author of several big wave surfing books, knows his subject really well and so do we after reading the article. He’s got good inside stuff, covers the history well, and also delves into the spirit of the unusual group of surfers who risk their lives challenging the monsters that can build, collapse and explode at our local, world famous surf spot. With sponsorship secured, invitees picked, all we need now is for Mother Nature to co-operate, and we’ll once again be exposed to one of the most daring sporting events anywhere.

With the great low tides over the next few days, if I can arrange it, I might try to make a circum-Pillar trip and get some pictures of Maverick’s, Mushroom Rock, etc. from the foot of the Point, something impossible during the event.

The other article completing the issue is “The Storied Waters of Pigeon Point,” by JoAnne Semones.” JoAnne, the author of “Shipwrecks, Scalawags, and Scavengers,”  an excellent chronicling of a century of the tragedy-filled Maritime history of the treacherous waters the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was built to neuter, has added new material from rare oral histories and personal interviews with the keepers’ families and local residents. She has included historic smuggler stories that should be great background for some of the tales I’m hoping Rob Tillitz will share about his experiences in these waters. Enjoy. John


Hot New Mavericks Exhibit Will Make You Feel Like You’re Surfing…

…When, in fact, you’re standing in a historic Redwood City courthouse 40-feet up from the street outside.

Mitch Postel, top man at the San Mateo County History Mueum in Redwood City, explains:

Dear June,

……Next up is a permanent exhibit with Coastside interest. We are going to create a computerized, interactive display on the big Maverick’s surfing contest at Pillar Point. The exhibit will include an outlook from one of our windows, 40 feet above the plaza, as high up as a surfer gets when riding that most fearsome wave. Surfing artifacts, videos, and, of course, a virtual ride will be part of the fun. Internationally regarded surfer, Grant Washburn, is our advisor on the project.

I bet you know people on the Coastside who will be interested in this one!


Mitch Postel

Purisima, The Town That Could Have Been Half Moon Bay: Part I

Purisima, The Town That Could Have Been Half Moon Bay: Part I

(Town of Purisima, circa 1870s, as depicted in the book, “The Illustrated History of San Mateo County,” Moore & DePue, publishers [1878]; reissued by Gilbert Richards Productions, Woodside, California in 1974)
Click on the image to get a bigger picture!

By June Morrall

[I wrote this in 1977, using resources at the San Mateo County History Museum, Redwood City County Courthouse.]

As the first Americans reached “La Costa,” [the coast] in 1853, some purchased land, some lived a simple existence on rented soil–and still others, called “squatters,” ignored the formal rules of land ownership.

When a group of these squatters descended upon the Rancho Miramontes in Half Moon Bay on Sept. 24, 1853, they found Mr. Miramontes’ friends waiting to run them off the land. Unable to defend themselves in the face of strong opposition, the squatters drove off to drum up support.

And–soon, the Americans returned with reinforcements, boosting their number to 40 or 50. During the heated confrontation, the squatters, who caught the Spanish off guard, managed to seize even more land than before. [But, apparently, their victory was short-lived.]

Within a year, some of these Americans–sensing confusion over a narrow strip of disputed land, located between the Canada Verde and Purisima Creek, headed straight for the controversial territory. Merchants, who dreamed of developing a prosperous business district on the north side of Purisima Creek, followed behind.

And in this magnificent rural setting, four miles south of Half Moon Bay, the new village of Purisima rivalled Spanishtown.

Continue reading “Purisima, The Town That Could Have Been Half Moon Bay: Part I”

New Book by County Museum Director Mitch Postel

I’ve known Mitch Postel, executive director of the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City since “we were kids.” Initially I met Mitch when he was the fundraiser for the museum when it was located at the College of San Mateo.

I was doing two things: researching the history of the Coastside via the museum’s extensive files and working as a part-time clerk, helping people choose books to buy, etc.

Mitch, who is very smart and a scholarly historian, quickly caught the eye of the board of directors who hired him to head up the museum, including the complex move from CSM to the organization’s gorgeous new home in the old Redwood City Courthouse–a must see architectural gem.

Mitch Postel has authored many books and papers on the history of San Mateo County–and his new one is available in the museum’s bookstore.