In 1980 I interviewed Marion and Bill Miramontes for the documentary “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay.”
Marion had been the town’s first telephone operator as well as a respected local historian. She penned occasional articles for the “Half Moon Bay Review”. Bill worked for Standard Oil during the time that the company had a large presence on the Coastside.
The history of the Miramontes family reaches back to the adobes of Half Moon Bay, originally known as San Benito. The Miramontes’ were major rancho owners, their property including the present town of Half Moon Bay. In their honor, the southern point of Half Moon Bay was named Miramontes Point
Here are some excerpts from the interview, which, unfortunately—and sadly, did not appear in the final show that aired.
I met Marion and Bill Miramontes at their home on the west side of Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay, located on the original land grant.
Marion: We purchased this property on December 8, 1943. It was originally sold December 8, 1861– and it was owned by John Miramontes, Bill’s uncle… we are living on the original Miramontes land grant now.
My grandfather, P.P. Quinlan came from England in 1868 and had a blacksmith shop here [Half Moon Bay]. In 1870 he sent to Ireland for my grandmother. They were married in St. Patrick’s Church in San Francisco in December of that year. The original Quinlan house still remains on San Benito Street in Half Moon Bay.
Bill: In those days, there weren’t tractors like there are now. All the roads [around here] were made by mules with Fresno Scrapers [earth movers].
Bill: I helped with the section from Pedro Mountain to Montara. They had mostly Hindus that went ahead and cut all the brush by hand. Then, they’d come up with plows and mules.
The first trip they made from Pedro Mountain to Pedro Valley, up to the top of the mountain and back, it took them one whole day to make that round trip with the mules blazing the first trail.
[It was] sure a windy road by car to San Francisco from Half Moon Bay…If you really wanted to go fast—you’d skid ’round those turns. You could make it in an hour, an hour and five minutes.
Marion: Two hours to San Francisco by Pedro Mountain.
…to be continued…
*Photo, courtesy San Mateo County History Museum. Visit the museum located in the historic Redwood City Courthouse, Redwood City.