Angelo Misthos: More on Montara’s “Dangling Rails”

Story by Angelo Mithos


Hi, to all.  Yes, John Schmale., I did receive a copy of the email you sent to John Vonderlin.  On Pg. 120 of my copy of THE LAST WHISTLE  are the ruins of the trestle where the Wurm group once posed for a picture. I remember the trestle looking like that in the 1930s when I took pictures of it with my Brownie camera, which photos I still have. The best I can recall is that the trestle was somewhat South of the Montara station, and was removed later when the road was widened.  My pictures are very much like the Pg. 120 picture. My copy of THE LAST WHISTLE is a second printing, December 1974, with changes on Pages 16, 35, 56 and 75.  I cannot find any picture you mentioned of “the Ocean Shore Railroad tracks at Montara following a flood caused by a very intense storm.”  Is your copy the same as mine?  If so, what page?  If not, what printing do you have and what page number?  I can check out out the Sonoma County Library system which has a couple of the books and see if they have the picture in their books. I figure this is probably the McNee trestle listed in the book, but the McNee Ranch is to the North–maybe this was the extreme South end of the ranch at that time.  One troubling thing is that the Trestles list in the Appendix shows no trestle at either Montara or Farallone; another thing is that Ted Wurm who was quite knowledgeable about the OS called it the Montara trestle. Also it seems to me the trestle wasn’t far from the Montara lighthouse, though I don’t completely trust my memories of those times since we’re talking of 70 or so years ago.
Pretty chilly here this morning–down to the high twenties. Keep warm. folks.   Angelo

On the South Island in New Zealand there’s a Half Moon Bay Scenic Reserve Stream Walk


A few weeks ago, my New Zealand guide, silver jewelry designer Paula Martin visited the reserve and enjoyed the sight of baby seals playing in the misty falls. They had somehow gotten way upstream to this dreamy place. When we revisited the falls a couple of days ago, the baby seals were gone, probably to join their family at the sea– but please join me now on the beautiful walk…





Dr. Eric Z. Shapira Autographing “A New Wrinkle” at Harbor Books….


Luckily, I ventured into a very busy Harbor Books at Princeton-by-the-Sea this afternoon in time to pick up an autographed copy of Dr. Eric Shapira’s book: “A New Wrinkle: What I learned from Older People Who Never Acted Their Age.”

Many of Dr. Shapira’s fans were there, prominent among themIMG_0709 Sally Benson and Dr. Shapira’s  wife, SusanIMG_0711

Angelo Mithos: On Montara’s Dangling Rails

Story by Angelo Mithos


The Montara washout (dangling rails) is a puzzlement.  When I first  read about and saw a picture of the suspended track over  Montara Creek, I thought the trestle had washed away.  Now not so sure.  I searched all my OS material and couldn’t find the original article. In an Arcadia Publishing  book , San Mateo Coast by Michael
Smookler, Pg. 50, appears the same photo that June sent to John V., except more of the landscape appears to left and right.  Caption reads: “Montara Creek flooded and washed away the ground underneath the railroad tracks some time between 1907 and 1919, as shown in this westward-facing photograph. Point Montara Lighthouse buildings are on the shore side of the tracks. A trestle was later built to support the tracks. (Courtesy F. Bezek.)”
In another Arcadia book, Ocean Shore Railroad by Chris Hunter, on Pg.89 is a picture of a woman sitting on a trestle support. The caption reads: “Ted Wurm’s mother is shown perched here on the Montara trestle in 1916. The late Ted Wurm had a lifelong love affair with the Ocean Shore Railroad.”  ( Note: no Montara trestle  appears in the Trestle list in Wagner’s OS book.) It is obvious there’s no roadway immediately to Mrs. Wurm’s right. I mention this because on Pg. 126 is a photo showing Mr. Wurm Sr. (holding a single barrel gun), presumed Mrs. Wurm, another woman, and a small child all posing atop the trestle.
I have a photgraph of the same people, posed the same way, given to me in the late 1930s by Ted Wurm along with several other OS pictures, The only differences between it and the book’s picture is that in the book picture everything is reversed–the people are posed in exactly the same way, but Mr. Wurm Sr. is on the left of the picture and presumed Mrs. Wurm is on the right.  Also in the photgraph that I have, Mr. Wurm Sr.’s cap is not cut off and there are a few more railtoad ties in the foreground.  And it shows the roadway in its proper place–to Mr. Wurm Sr.’s left, i.e., just East of the trestle. The party was facing South; the photographer North. This agrees with my recollection and with the 1930s Brownie photos of the trestle I still have. It’s also evident in the Wurm photo that only every other tie was spiked to the rails and no guard  rails next to the main rails, in keeping with the OS’s “on the cheap” construction practices.  Incidentally, does anyone know anything about F. Bezek or when the aforementioned Montara flood actually occurred?   Angelo

John Vonderlin: Great Inventions of HMB: Mr. Downing’s Portable Hay and Feed Rack

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: [email protected]


Hi June,

While Mr. Knapp’s sidehill plow (known as a “Half Moon Bay” according to articles I’ve read) is probably Half Moon Bay’s most famous invention, with one ending up at the Smithsonian, I thought Mr. Downing, deserved a nod of recognition too. Enjoy. John
Portable Hay and Feed Rack.
Good arrangements for field feeding are generally known to be of great advantage to the stock – grower in saving feed from waste and aiding in its distribution among the animals entitled to it. The engraving on this page shows a device for feeding both hay and vegetables and grain, invented by W. S. Downing of Half Moon Bay, San Mateo county, and patented through Dewey & Co.’s Agency by O. H. Walker (1910 Filbert street, S. F.) and Mr. Downing. The plan adopted for introducing this rack is to sell the right to construct, accompanied with full specifications of material cut to specified sizes, so that any one handy with the saw and hammer can easily do his own building. A circular is issued, which gives a full account of the advantages claimed for the rack, the number of animals they will accommodate, also the benefit of rack feeding generally, which will interest stock-growers. These circulars can be had by addressing the inventors as above.

John Schmale: On Viaducts

Story by John Schmale

John Schmale is the author of the “Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad”

Email John Schmale: [email protected]

Hi John, Angelo, June,

Years ago I went through all of the newspapers that I could find day-by-day,  wishing that there was a database that could show me only what I need and not have to search the entire paper. How wonderfully the internet has changed the way we do everything. I checked my files and I indeed had the same article. The via duct was built in 1905 by the Ocean Shore Railway to cross over the Southern Pacific tracks at Florida & Division Streets in San Francisco. The approaches were  very steep and the Ocean shore crews had a hard time holding the trains on the steep grade. In 1908 the trestle was eliminated  and a regular grade crossing of the SPs old mainline was installed. The SP had completed their Bayshore Cutoff line through Brisbane and South San Francisco thus allowing the routing almost all of their traffic over the new route. The OSRY tracks had just reached Tunitas Creek. The trestle was built using the surplus timbers and material from the Viaduct. I do have photo, I will locate it.

John Schmale

This is what a field of tussocks looks like in New Zealand


On my drive through New Zealand’s South Island this sight never hurts the eyes. They look like grasses, and we who live in Half Moon Bay might have one or two or three grasses in the garden but these tussocks come in masses and their golden color, texture and shape never bores. The tussock covered landscape reminds me of one huge mural, as big as you can imagine.

Some people say there are great similarities between the bucolic scenery of the Coastside and New Zealand’s remote South Island–and it’s true, if you visit, many sights will seem familiar. You will think, gee, that reminds me of back home. It definitely does. But here there is just so much more of everything,  and it seems to be designed by an artist who was a perfectionist. There are no natural flaws here. I’ve commented before that the color of the water is dazzling, call it turquoise, aquamarine, opal or eggs nest blue. The colors will call to you, draw you in. It’s also freezing cold.

Lakes are everywhere, so pretty and blue they must have inspired the authors of old-fashioned fairy tales. There are thousands of cows, black and white, brown and white, deer, Elk, sheep, white and merino, and heaps of stunning rocks that come in as many shapes and sizes as do the endless mountains, some with what appear to be hanging gardens. Along one stretch of road someone began the tradition of gathering rocks into a small pile and every few feet this has been replicated. I stopped the car and made one of these piles myself–it’s kind of like leaving a tiny bit of yourself in the midst of the giant-sized scenery.

Having recently finished an Arcadia book on Moss Beach, I was handling many photos of the early 20th century beach landscape, very different from what it looks like today. In the early 1900s there were many “natural curiosities” (caves, spouting rocks and elegant arches) to see at Moss Beach–it seemed to be in a more primitive state which reminds me of the South Island beaches I’ve had the pleasure of seeing during the past week.

Kiwis are very proud and protective of their South Island with its massive collection of landscapes, one spectacular painting after the next.