John Vonderlin: Purissima Falls?

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: [email protected]


Hi June,
As good as any place to start presenting the new stuff I’ve found on Purissima is the falls. This drawing of the Falls -2 with the sailing ships in the background, was in the April 8th, 1894, issue of “The San Francisco Call.” While lack of money has apparently stalled the construction of the Cowell to Purissima blufftop trail, I suspect this year we might be able to stand in the same spot and enjoy the  view the artist did as they sketched.
This second attachment, a ScreenShot of an engraving that appeared in the April 8th, 1893, issue of the “Pacific Rural Press,” was captioned Purissima Falls. It was accompanying an article titled, “Industrial Usage of Waterfalls,” The related text, however, predicted that:
“The smaller engraving on this page is quite in contrast in character and in future with the foregoing (Snoqualmie Falls). It is one of the most retired, unambitious and lonely of the lesser waterfalls of California. It is Purissima fall -3in San Mateo county, in the region of Halfmoon bay, and is the resort of the quieter race of tourists. It is destined to plunge and gurgle in solitude, unvexed by inventors and “utilizers” for all time to come.”
There is just one problem, it doesn’t look like it is right on the coast, Purissima Falls’, greatest claim to fame. I know of only three waterfalls that drop into the surf on the California coast, the Julia Pfeiffer Falls in Big Sur, Finney Falls at Ano Nuevo, and Purissima Falls.
My thought is that the pictured waterfall might be Benton Falls. But, that is solely based on this short mention in the June 15th, 1901 issue of “The San Francisco Call,” in an article titled “Anglers On All State Streams.” It reads: R. Issenbruck and Dr. George Gunn  will leave to-day for Benton Falls in Purisima Creek.”
I haven’t found anything on a Benton Falls locally yet, but will keep looking. There is a small possibility that the Purisima Creek they mention is in Southern California, where the mission of the same name was. The name on the photo, “Dewey Engiclose (?) is another possible thread. More soon. Enjoy. John

New Zealand Tops the indexes for peace, prosperity, economic freedom

To read more about New Zealand’s high standards:  please click here

Excerpt from Wikipedia article: New Zealand is a developed country that ranks highly in international comparisons on human development, quality of life, life expectancy, literacy, public education, peace[11], prosperity, economic freedom, ease of doing business, lack of corruption, press freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.[12] Its cities also consistently rank among the world’s most liveable.

Sat. Dec. 12: Meet some of the Coastside’s local history authors

Story from Edward Anderson

Drop in this Saturday afternoon, at the Coastside a Gallery at 330 Main Street, Half Moon Bay.

A Holiday History Day

The Half Moon Bay History Association Celebrates:

Local Authors

Who Love

Local History

Come talk with four writers who are passionate about the lives and events that happened to make our area special

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JoAnn Semones

“Shipwrecks, Scalawags, and Scavengers:

The Storied Waters of Pigeon Point

Coastal stories centered around disasters and wonderful shenanigans that have happened in and near the waters just south of Half Moon Bay

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Michael Orange

“Half Moon Bay: Historic Coastside Reflections”

Richly illustrated, remarkably detailed history and development of one of San Mateo  County’s oldest communities.

Your browser may not support display of this image. John Edmonds

“The Civil War:

Northern California’s Unrecognized Valor”

The details of California’s little known role in the Civil War.

“Cops, Courts, Jails and Judges: San  Mateo County Criminal Justice”

A personal and strategic overview of 150 years of the local court system.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Dave Cresson

“Turning Points”

Major events and little stories that changed the Coastside – From the natives, to our railroad, subdivisions, war, and threats of city bankruptcy.

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On the Road in New Zealand: I’ve Never Been Luckier

I landed in the big, big city of Auckland on the North Island, stayed overnight and flew to Queenstown on the fantastic, out-of-this-world  South Island. Everything is MORE on the South Island. More of everything and bigger and much more interesting. You go to the beach and it’s not just beach and ocean waves—there’s rocks out there and those rocks are all individually shaped, popping out of the sea forming incredible visions. The same with the mountains–they jut out of the sea, or they brighten the countryside and no two sets of mountains are alike.

Stayed in Queenstown, the hub of activity, a few days.  I was traveling in a camper van and that’s way most locals travel and it’s the best way to enjoy the incomparable gorgeous sights. There are so many beautiful views to look at that they compete for attention: “Hey look at me. No over here.”You will not be bored. Just one beautiful moutain, river, bird, plant, beach, rock, after the other. Definitely visual overload but an extremely pleasant sensation.

I visited Wanaka where I stayed one night with Jo and her loving but terminally ill dog, Badge, at her b&b called “Falling Leaves”. Although Jo was born on the south island, she has lived all over the world and worked as a nanny to famous movie stars. I was mostly staying in  very nice motor  courts and the occasional room with or without a loo at  Te Anau, the classic Globe Hotel at Riverton, Omaru, Geraldine, the big city called Christchurch where I had a lovely room at the Devon B&B and enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Annie’s Wine Bar & Restaurant located in the nearby Art Centre, later we moved on to see the black sandy beaches of Kaikoura, the wineries (including Cloudy Bay) at Blenheim and my traveling companion’s home, Picton, facing the Marlborough Sound.  Here’s the link to the google map of New Zealand

I will post more pix with this story. You must visit New Zealand: this was a healing ADVENTURE for me, a trip not to be missed in a lifetime–but you gotta go in a camper van, or go backpacking. I was transformed into “Nature Girl,” certain that I would not be allowed to leave! And I was ready to run away; I didn’t want to leave this magical country.

John Vonderlin: 1887 Travelogue Mentions all the Famous Coastsiders…

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,

This travelogue was published in the December 10, 1887 issue of the ‘Pacific Rural Press.”   Just about every Coastside notable person I know of from this time and a few new ones are mentioned. This is the first time I have read a description of the location of the mysterious “Singing Sand Beach” of Pescadero. Based on his directions it would be at Fiddler’s Cove, just north of Pescadero Point. However, as there is no two mile long beach there, and he says he didn’t have time to visit it, I can’t be sure. Enjoy. John
On the Coast of San Mateo County.
Editors Press: —It was with some reluctance that your correspondent turned his back upon the charming rural scenes of Woodside, where he was so pleasantly entertained at the residence of Mr. John Winkler, on the night of the 18th inst., but a sense of duty in the interest of your journal impelled him to take leave early on the following morning. Following down the Palarcitos (sic) creek several miles, I observed many orchards and vineyards, which gave evidence of skillful culture and bountiful returns for the outlay, though planted at but comparatively recent date. Finally, when within six miles of Half Moon Bay, more familiarly known as Spanish Town, I cross a low range of mountains and drop into a beautiful fertile valley, and am soon in the midst of a population of about 900 people. Half Moon Bay has an ancient appearance, many of the buildings being moss-grown with age. The inhabitants anxiously yearn for railway connection with San Francisco, and are confident that such an accomplishment is all that is required to make it one of the most prosperous communities in the State. The soil is extremely fertile, and the climate, barring occasional fog, is most inviting, and there is no doubt that with an outlet by rail communication, many would seek homes here in preference to places they now occupy. At present, the hopes of the people are encouraged with the promise of a coast wagon-road, by which the distance to your city will be reduoed from 34 to only 18 miles. On Saturday night I drove six miles up the Half Moon Bay, and stopped over Sunday with Mr. J. F. Weinkie, proprietor of the Moss Beach House. Here we found good treatment, and readily became convinced that the place has many attractions for those seeking rest and recreation from the bustling scenes incident to city life. Opportunities for bathing, boating, and fishing are scarcely excelled anywhere, and guests may rest assured that the proprietor will spare no pains to make them comfortable at most reasonable rates. Contrary to expectation, based upon information regarding the inhabitants of Half Moon Bay, many of whom are of foreign birth and uneducated in our language, I succeeded in extending the circulation of the Press considerably. Among those worthy of special mention on account of their enterprise and public spirit the names of R. J. Knapp, manufacturer of the premium side-hill plows; Levy Bros., merchants; Wm. Pringle, harness-maker, as well as others whose names we cannot now recall, are conspicuous. On Tuesday morning following we proceeded along the coast, passing through a beautiful district of productive farming lands, extending from the water’s edge to the mountain tops, much more of which was cultivated in former years than at present. In earlier times the certainty of orops regardless of rainfall along the coast, together with the high prices of grain, was an incentive for the cultivation of extensive tracts to grain. Now all is changed. Other sections of the State, though far less productive and certain for crops, have on aocount of railroad connection with the outside world superseded this region in the grain-raising industry, and the country is now devoted principally to the dairy business. Six miles down the coast I arrive at Purissima, a small village, though graced with a few good residences, among which is that of Henry Dobble, and a creditable school building. Further on we pass the thrifty farms of Andrew Osterman, John Schleef, and at noon we accept the hospitalities of H. Friy and family. Mr. Friy here owns a good farm of over 300 acres well improved and stocked with fine cattle, horses and hogs. He shows a colt, McLellan stock, but two years old, whioh measures 16 hands and weighs over 1000 pounds. Proceeding along the coast, the first raindrops of the season commenced to fall, and I concluded to raise the top of my buggy. Soon after doing so all indications of rain vanished. Notwithstanding that less rain is required along the coast than inland, it would prove a most welcome visitor. Dairymen are compelled to depend upon hay, pumpkins and beets principally to maintain their herds until new grass comes, which oannot grow without rain.
Passing up San Gregorio creek five miles, I halt in front of J. W. Bell’s residence and pass a pleasant night with the proprietor and his kind companion. Mr. Bell has an excellent farm here —very productive —but he finds dairying more profitable than any other branch of rural life. William Watkins, one mile above, has also a fine scope of land well adapted to fruit-growing and for the production of grain and vegetables. Though the oountry along the oreek is somewhat rugged, yet on account of the excellent land, pure water and romantic surroundings the section has many attractions for those who have a taste for oountry homes. Wednesday night I spent at the homestead of R. H. Brown, Esq., I 1/2 miles north of Pesoadero. This is a model dairy-ranoh of 1250 acres. He keeps 160 head of cows, from whioh he makes an average of one pound of butter per day to eaoh animal. Arriving in the town of Pescadero on Thanksgiving Day, I was pleased to find it so pleasantly situated between Pescadero and Butano creeks. The streets are regular and wide, and, though the place boasts
of no extremely costly buildings, the residences of many denote taste and thrift. Pescadero, it is claimed, was 20 years ago one of the most lively towns of its size on the coast. Many large sawmills, which have ceased operations, employed many men; besides, farming and gardening in those days employed much help. But long sinoe the land-owners have turned their attention to dairying and stock-raising, which requires but a limited amount of laborers. As a consequence, the solitude of the place is almost painful at times, and is only occasionally broken by the visit of a traveling agent canvassing for books, newspapers, etc., or a company of tourists, for whioh the vicinity affords solid attractions. One mile below the town is a beach, two miles in length, of singing sand. The singing sand-beach of Manchester, Mass., was formerly supposed to be the only one in the world. I had not the time to spare to pay the beach a visit, but was authentically informed that the music arising from the sand when treading over it is similar to that of the sound produced by walking upon hard, frozen snow. There are also pebble and agate beaches near the town, where are found opals, agate, carnelian, onyx, turquoise and many other precious stones. There is fine hunting and fishing in the neighborhood. The redwoods lay but a short distance to the rear, and taken all in all, it can well be claimed that in seeking a resort, Pescadero should not be wholly overlooked. Those visiting the place will find two hotels, the Swanton house and the Pescadero house. The former is long established, while the latter is new and newly refitted. The proprietor, Mr. Jno. McCormick, seems specially adapted to the position he holds, and spares no pains to make his guests comfortable at very reasonable rates. Mr. Chas. Wm. Swanton, who had owned and managed the Swanton house for 26 years, died on the 23d inst., and was buried under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity, of which he was a worthy member, on the 25th inst. The obsequies brought together a large number of people for miles around to pay homage to one they highly respected and esteemed. The town and vicinity boasts of a number of men whom it is not only an honor but a pleasure to know. Among these are B. V. Weeks, Esq., dairyman; Mr. Alex. Moore, one of the oldest settlers of Pescadero, owner of a large tract of land, and is engaged in dairying and fruitgrowing. Eli D. Moore, his son, is distinguished as having been the first white male born in California, the date of his birth being Deo. 12, 1847. Mr. M. has been a constant reader of the Rural Press sinoe the first day it was published and still “staya with it.” Pescadero is well represented by fraternal societies as well as the other concomitants of civilization, such as schools and ohurches. The Masonic Order has long been established and is in a prosperous condition. The Odd Fellows have a thriving Lodge of 41 members. Their Noble Grand is Mr. Henry Dearborn, and secretary, A. G. Ghoulson. The Druids boast of a membership of 35, with Mr. A. C. Maxey, N. A., and A. Levy, secretary. Saturday morning I wended southward along the coast and by evening found myself in front of the pleasant home of I. C. Steele, Esq., where I was courteously received and entertained until Monday morning, when I was reminded that another week’s experience of travel lay before me, and I must gird on the armor of battle. Before taking leave of our host and his estimable family, a few observations regarding the lovely homestead they occupy may not be out of place. Mr. Steele’s south line runs within a short distance of the northern boundary of Santa Cruz county. Looking to the westward from the site of his residence there stretches out before our eyes a large scope of grazing lands, while just beyond may be seen the foaming waters of the Pacific, whose roar, though some miles distant, may be plainly heard every hour. Gazing eastward, a magnificent panorama is thrust upon our vision. The evergreen Coast Range presents a beautiful contrast with the brown hills that intervenes between them and the Pacific ocean. The comfortable residence, fine gardens of flowers, vegetables and fruits of nearly every variety known to our soil and climate, the pastures stocked with some of the finest cattle and horses in the State, large and commodious buildings for every requirement, including barns and dairy buildings for the prosecution of butter and cheese making on the most approved plans—all these advantages and more we might enumerate, conspire to make this the typical home of a true Patron of Husbandry, an Order with which Mr. Steele has been long and prominently identified, and to which he has, with a self-sacrificing spirit, devoted muob of his time and considerable money. F. B. L.

John Vonderlin: (1873) The Eggs of Farallone

Story from John Vonderlin
Email John: [email protected]
Article from the June 7th, 1873, issue of the “Pacific Rural Press
Farallone Eggs
Hitherto the Sea-Island eggs have been plenty in May. Now May is passed, few eggs have appeared in this market. June is here and still they are very scarce. They sell at 35 cents a dozen, when hens’ eggs are 25c. The cause is wanton and extravagant destruction. The birds have abandoned the rocky isles for more peaceful homes. We have pursued the same course with salmon in our rivers. The Fish Commissioners have just and wisely issued a prohibition against wanton destruction of salmon. If this is enforced, their threatened desertion of our rivers will be postponed. In our bay, all fishermen empty the small fish on the shore to perish. They should be compelled to return them to the water. We are introducing shad and other Eastern fish. Their capture should be prohibited for two years from this date. And we want guardians of the rivers, who know their duties and who will devote their time to diligent supervision. ” Gentlemanly Politicians ” are out of place in that avocation.

Railroad Author John Schmale: On Montara’s dangling rails/washout

Story by John Schmale, author of the “Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad”


Hi Angelo Et al,

I will try to clear up a few details of the Montara-Farallone washout. The photo showing the Ocean Shore Railroad mainline track suspended in air was made after the fill was blown out from beneath it. There was no trestle over that creek. It was a fill. A list of trestles made before 1916 would not show it, because it did not exist.  The drain tunnel under the fill became  plugged with debris during the terrible storm of January 1916. This created a lake (flood ) behind the fill.  The county highway bridge was ten feet under water and the water was over 40 feet deep at the railroad fill. A hasty decision was made to blast the fill. On January 13, 1916, setting off a large a charge of dynamite, a crew blew out the center of the fill. The tremendous rush of water took out the entire railroad fill and much of the county road and bridge, but saved the Montara Light Station. A few days later the decision was made to replace the railroad  fill with a trestle. The trestle was called the Farallone trestle and was in the “Farallone City” sub-division which is just south of Montara. The original Farallone City map extended into Montara and near the Montara Depot. I think it is now all Montara. I will post some photos as I find them.

John Schmale


From John Vonderlin

Hi Guys,

Here’s another small bit from the “Pacific Rural Press,” to flesh out the “strangerails” story. Thanks for all the help everyone. Looking forward to the pictures. Enjoy. John P.S. Looking at the ScreenShot and where the rain totals were so far ahead of average, it looks like this was an El Nino year.

[Image below: California Weather Record for week ending January 17, 1916.]


Email John ([email protected])

Cold Weather Reports from Oregon and Marin County

From Marin County

Lynn McCloskey says: Snow on Big Rock behind the house.
It’s still here from yesterday.  It’s now in the low 30’s…..brrrr


From Southern Oregon

Katie Dryden says:

Up earlier than usual and had to break up the ice on top of the sheep’s
water.  The ground is frozen and crunchy even though the sun shines
bright.  Global warming my a–.  It rarely freezes here, as we mostly get
rain, maybe hail and a little snow that doesn’t last.

John Vonderlin says:

My brother Larry says they’ve been the coldest (24, 24, 25) since he moved to coastal(about as far from the ocean as you are) Oregon and Dahlias and other flowers in their garden are ruined.