October 1876: What Happened to The Rydal Hall

From the “Alta,”

San Francisco, October 1876

“…We had another continuation of our deep-water arrivals yesterday. No less than sixteen vessels from all quarters of the globe, entered the Golden Gate  [Image of the “Golden Gate” before the bridge was built in the late 1930s, courtesy Deb Wong at Spring Mountain Gallery.]

yesterday, which made things lively around the exchange for a time . Only one American ship in the whole fleet: all the rest British and one German.

“Intelligence reached us yesterday of the loss of the British ship Rydal Hall at the whaling station near Spanishtown (Half Moon Bay). She went ashore on the 17th instant. late in the evening, and the latest news received states that she will be a total loss. Unfortunately, nine men were lost by the disaster, and at last accounts, the Captain was still on board. She was bound from Cardiff for this port with a load of coal, and was a fine iron ship of over 1800 tons, built at Liverpool in 1874, and was owned by the Sun Shipping Company of Liverpool, and she will be a heavy loss on the Underwriters, as she is fully insured.

—–“The crew of the wrecked ship Rydal Hall arrived in town last evening, and in a conversation with the chief officer we gleaned the following facts: The ship was running along with a light breeze, and in a thick fog up to 7 p.m., of the 17th instant, when she was hove to, the Captain thinking himself about twenty miles from the Farallones. At 8 p.m. she struck. The men who were lost were drowned in attempting to land in the gig and lifeboat. No fog whistle was heard until about four o’clock on the morning of the 18th. The men state this fact positively, and it is but a continuation of reports of the same kind that have often been made off this point in regard to this whistle, and it is about time that some attention was paid to it. The ship will be a total loss, as she is already breaking up.

—–“The wreck of the Rydal Hall, recently cast away on the Southern Coast, was sold in the Exchange yesterday; ship and cargo for $850, to Breeze & Loughran, for the divers, Loogee Brothers, who have already gone down to wreck her. If we have fine weather they will realize a good profit on their investment, by saving spars, sails, rigging, anchors, chains and provisions, etc.

—–“The ship Rydal Hall went to pieces on the evening of the 25th inst., without a thing being done toward salvage. Some difficulty occurred between the purchasers and the men they calculated to employ as wreckers, which is the cause of nothing being saved. A large portion of the woodwork of the vessel drifted past the Cliff House on the afternoon of the 26th, and went over on the North Shore. Quite a lot of the cabin fittings were among the wreckage.”

John Vonderlin: Coastside Inventions/The McGlew Ore Extractor

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: [email protected]

Hi June,

I ran into this short article while investigating Purissima. It appeared in the March 17th, 1896, issue of “The San Francisco Call.”  Mr. McGlew invented a machine for crushing and grinding ore, started the McGlew Ore Extractor Company to manufacture them, and made a lot of money off their success. I have found no evidence he was connected to the California Oil Company, though. Not sure where the Bank Ranch was located. Enjoy. John
“Coast Advocate, published at Halfmoon Bay, gives this interesting news: “Mr. McGlew, who is interested in the California Oil Company, believes the prospect for a strike on the Bank ranch is a good one. Judged by the order of the strata passed through the company is on the right track. The presence of oil is certain; the only question is quantity. Another delay in the work has occurred. The well will be lined and the men were laid off Saturday until the casing could be obtained from the City and put into place.”

John Vonderlin: 1890s: A War Not Between MEN but Between Stages

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: [email protected]

Hi June,
A while ago I posted about the phenomena of “opposition stages” in the Old West. Here’s an article from the June 18th, 1892, issue of “The San Francisco Call,” that describes the Coastside’s version of this bareknuckled style of free enterprise. Not surprisingly, it involves Loren Coburn and Pebble Beach. Enjoy. John

Not Between the People but Between
Rival Stage Line Men.
On the shore not far from Pigeon Point in San Mateo Ceunty and distant about one mile and a half from Pescadero is situated what is known as the pebble beach, which has been visited by thousands during lie past 80 years and is as almost well known to the traveling people as the Yosemite Valley and the wonderful big trees. As previously stated this pebble beach has been visited by thousands of people and each one has carried away from there from two to three cigarboxes filled with pebbles, some of which are really handsome and are turned over to lapidaries and jewelers to be converted into articles of jewelry. Among these pebbles are found opals, cornelians and a sort of milk stone. Notwithstanding the fact that so many of these pebbles have been removed, the supply does not appear to be in the least affected, and any one who saw the beach 30 years ago and goes to it now, cannot notice that a handful had been taken. This beach, and an agate beach close by, a singing beach some distance away, the Pigeon Point lighthouse and some beautiful drives in the mountains on the road to Redwood City, are the chief attractions around the ancient town of Pescadero.
One of the large land-owners in that part of San Mateo County is a Mr. Coburn, and the  pebble and agate beaches are on the border of the land around which he has a fence. For some reason or other he is not on the best of terms with the people, or rather some of the people of Pescadero and not long ago the people who run the regular line of stages from San Mateo station to Pescadero via Spanishtown, and to the same point from Redwood City via Honda, and he had a falling out. The exact nature of the quarrel has not been made public, this much is known, that Coburn is determined to establish an opposition stage line via Spanishtown. Coburn owns a large number of horses, and he procured several light and easy-riding covered wagons, which he placed on the road, and put them in charge of the famous driver, Baldy Green, who for many years was the crack rein-handler on the line between Virginia City and Carson. With a view to knock out the old line, Coburn cut the fare down from the regulation price, $2 50, to 50 cents, and he made the announcement that if the regular line went lower then that he would carry passengers without cost and furnish each passenger a noonday meal at Spanishtown. This action on his part had the effect to make the old-line people come down to the Coburn prices in the matter of fare on the Spanishtown line, and in the Redwood City-Honda line the fare came down to $1.50, although there is no opposition, but travel fell off so that something had to be done to meet the cut on the other route to Pescadero.
Previous to the establishment of this opposition there was a line of carriages that carried passengers from the hotel to the pebble and agate beaches, charging 40 cents for the round trip. Coburn has established a line of carriages there, and cut the roundfare trip down to 25 cents. He is having a new road built by which the distance to these beaches will be reduced, and this will soon be opened. He also declares that no teams except those in charge of his men shall be permitted to cross his lands. This virtually shuts out all others who are engaged in the carrying business, and those who wish to visit the beaches must ride in Coburn’s carriages. On last Wednesday Coburn served written notice on a livery stable man named Farley, the owner of the opposition coaches and carriages, to the effect that no more trespassing would be permitted on the Coburn grounds. Coburn has also declared that he will have his wish respected, and that if it is not he will have shotgun sentries at the gates, and that they will be instructed to keep intruders out.  On the other hand, it is claimed that Coburn has no control over the beaches, and that steps will be taken to reach them by another route than that over his lands, and that if he attempts to prevent people from visiting them, there will be serious trouble. Thus the matter stands at present. The two lines of coaches via Spanish town are not making money, but the people who visit Pescadero are saving some by the reduction in the fares.


John Vonderlin: (1887) The Sweet Cream Rises to the Top in San Mateo County

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,

This article appeared in the January 8th, 1887, issue of the “Pacific Rural Press.” So much milk and so little railroad, such was the Coastside’s dilemma. Enjoy. John
San Mateo County Dairies.
The Redwood Times and Gazette has been out among the dairies and collected the following interesting statements : The San Mateo dairy of Messrs. Kinne & Daley occupies a sightly eminence. To the east it overlooks part of the Potrero, with the bay and a portion of Oakland beyond and the long sweep of the Mission road from St. Mary’s College to the San Mateo county line. To the south rise the rugged steeps of Mt. San Bruno. To the southwest and west unfold the fertile slopes of Colma, rising southward to the hights (sic) which overlook San Pedro valley, and sinking westward to Laguna Merced and the sandy dunes which wall it from the encroaching sea. To the north the land falls rapidly to the irregular pass which forms the business portion of the thriving village of Ocean View, and then rises to the hights which run north across the peninsula in a gradually lessening line until lost beyond Lone mountain in the broad plateau south of the Presidio. In the very teeth of the west wind, and at the northern bastion of the county, so to speak, this little “castle of industry” stands, the first of the many milk dairies which have made San Mateo county the pure-milk purveyor of the metropolis. Within easy rifle shot of the San Mateo dairy is the dairy of Knowles Brothers, who have succeeded their father in the operation of a well-equipped, well-managed dairy, small, but good—a veritable multum in parvo of system, cleanliness and quality of output. Both these dairies feed the best of hay as well as plenty of bran, middlings and oilcake meal. At the Knowles dairy is in operation the first De Laval cream separator used in San Mateo county. This separator is an application of the principle of centrifugal motion to the extraction of cream from sweet milk. The milk is put into a tin tank so fast as milked, and when the required amount is in the tank it is passed therefrom and through the separator, run by a two-horse steam engine. The result is sweet cream, thick or thin as desired, and sweet skimmed milk, suitable for feeding to young calves or for sale to bakeries to bo used in bread-making. Mr. Bart Weeks, of Pescadero, has also one of these separators in use. Mr. Coburn is about to put one in, and other large butter dairies will doubtless do so soon, in situations where the fuel supply justifies. The milk supplied to San Francisco by the two dairies first noticed, by Jersey farm at San Bruno; by the Millbrae dairy and by the Howard dairy at San Mateo, as well, doubtless, as that produced by many other smaller milk-shipping dairies in the county, is of approved excellence. The writer has just returned from a trip along the coast from Half Moon baynearly to Point New Year. No better dairy section exists in the county. The milk product of this entire section readily might be sent to San Francisco by rail —if rail facilities existed. Seven thousand gallons daily might be sent from the section between Pigeon Point and Half Moon bay. Given a coast railroad from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and the problem of supplying this metropolis with pure milk will be solved for all time. We think we do not exaggerate when we say that the coast side of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties can easily supply San Francisco with all the fresh milk it is likely ever to need. The undeveloped dairying possibilities of that section are greater than have been even dreamed of. Rapid, sure and cheap transportation of fodder and of milk must come some day and ought to have come long ago. Let those who have most to gain in the matter —all of us are in some degree interested—do something. A mass meeting in Pescadero, another in Santa Cruz, another in Half Moon bay, addressed by the intelligence and the
public spirit of those three communities, ought to throw light upon the disputed question of how best to secure what is needed. If neither the Atlantic & Pacific nor the Southern Pacific evidence determination soon to build, why not build ourselves? Find out what it will cost and build it! If the coast shows the capitalists of this county and Santa Cruz county that it is in earnest it can have enough stock subscribed for and enough money paid in to begin work within six months from this writing.

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