Double Cone Quarterly
Winter Solstice 2001 -- Volume IV, Number 4

A portrait of George Davidson from Charles Davenport's "Biographical Memoir of George Davidson." The photograph was downloaded from a biographical website.


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Introduced and Edited by David Rogers.

© 2001 by David Rogers

The following is an excerpt from the fourth edition of George Davidson's "Coast Pilot of California, Oregon and Washington," which was published by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1889. The first two editions (1858 and 1862) were titled "Directory for the Pacific Coast of the United States," while the third edition (1869) was titled "Coast Pilot of California, Oregon and Washington Territory." According a biography of Davidson on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Central Library's website:

This publication [the "Directory"] evolved into the Coast Pilot series for all of the United States... "Coast Pilot of California, Oregon, and Washington" became the authoritative list of sailing directions for the west coast mariner, traced the origin of many of the names of features on our west coast, delineated the tracks of early explorers and navigators, and contained over 400 sketches of pristine coastal views prior to the encroachment of civilization. This document is considered one of the great historic works detailing the geography and early exploration of our Pacific margin.

George Davidson (1825-1911) was a very gifted person who led an extremely active life in which he combined his wide-ranging skills as a geodesist, astronomer, engineer, geographer, hydrographer, surveyor, historian, seismologist and teacher. Davidson was born in England in 1825, but his family moved to Philadelphia in 1832. His 50 year association with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (1845-1895) had its roots when one of his high school teachers, Alexander Bache, was appointed the second superintendent of the Survey. In 1845 Davidson was selected as a clerk to Bache, and relocated to Washington, D. C.; in 1846 he was appointed as an aid to Robert Fauntleroy in a field survey in the Gulf of Mexico. Fauntleroy was not only a teacher to Davidson, but also a friend, and during the winter months of 1846 to 1849 Davidson spent time at Fauntleroy home in New Harmony Indiana, a colony of intellectuals and social activists seeking a utopian society. During this period Davidson met Ellinor Fauntleroy; they were married in 1858.

After four years of productive geodesic and astronomical work at the Survey, Davidson was assigned to duty on the Pacific Coast, and arrived in San Francisco in 1850. During his first decade on the west coast Davidson was engaged in many projects, which included numerous field surveys, including those associated with the locating of sites for lighthouses. During the Civil War he returned to the east coast, where he was engaged in engineering projects associated with Union Army defenses, after which he traveled to Europe and conducted transatlantic astronomical and geodesic work associated with the newly laid Atlantic cable. For several years after his return Davidson's primary projects were associated with Alaska.

The Davidson Observatory, built in 1879, was the first astronomical observatory on the Pacific Coast. It was located in what is now Lafayette Park, on the highest knoll in San Francisco's Pacific Heights district. In 1906 Davidson turned the site into a refuge for people rendered homeless by the earthquake and subsequent fire that destroyed most of the city. Reproduced from Lewis (1954).

Beginning in the early 1870's Davidson began assuming more and more roles outside those directly associated with the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. In 1870 Davidson's forty-one year association with the University of California at Berkeley began when he was appointed as an Honorary Professor of Geodesy and Astronomy (in 1898 he was also appointed as an Honorary Professor of Geography at the institution). In 1871 Davidson was elected president of the California Academy of Sciences, and served in that capacity for 16 years. In 1872 Davidson became a member of the Annual Survey Commission of the U. S. Mint, and in 1873 he was appointed by President Grant as a Commissioner of Irrigation for California (a few years later he traveled to China, India, Egypt and Italy to study irrigation and reclamation methods). In 1876 Davidson received an honorary doctorate degree from what is now the University of Santa Clara, and in 1877 he was appointed a Regent of the University of California. After an expedition to Junipero Serra Peak to observe the total eclipse of the sun in January of 1880, Davidson and other members of the expedition founded the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. In 1881 Davidson was one of founders of the Geographical Society of the Pacific (of which he served as president), and also in that year he was elected as an honorary member of the San Francisco Micoscopical Society. In 1886 Davidson was employed by the city of San Francisco in relationship to the sewerage system, and 1887 he was made an associated fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1888 Davidson was made an honorary corresponding member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In 1889 Davidson served as delegate to the International Geodetic Association at Paris, and was made a corresponding member of the American Geographical Society; he also received an honorary Sc.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in that year. In 1890 Davidson was made an honorary corresponding member of the Royal Geographical Society of England, and was also appointed to the Mississippi River Commission. In 1892 Davidson was named president of the San Francisco Board of Engineers, and in 1894 he was made an honorary corresponding member of the Bureau of Longitude of France.

In the mean time Davidson had remained an extremely active contributing member of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, so in 1895 it came as a surprise when, with no reason given, he was dismissed. The decision was made by William Duffield, a political appointee of President Cleveland. The uproar that ensued from the scientific community forced Duffield's resignation in 1897 (Davidson himself was nominated as candidate for the office of Superintendent of the Survey in 1898). Subsequently Davidson opened office as a consulting engineer in San Francisco in 1896, and in 1897 he was elected an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 1901 Davidson was elected as a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of France.

In 1905, due to failing eyesight, Davidson was forced to abandon much of his work, and thus became a Professor Emeritus of the University of California. Davidson survived the great earthquake and subsequent fire of 1906, but this event lead him back into public life, for he served as the first president of the Pacific Seismological Society, which was founded in August of that year.

An early view of Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, Santa Clara County. Davidson played an instrumental role in the creation of this observatory. Reproduced from Lewis (1954).

During Davidson's waning years he received more honorary positions and awards, including a LL.D. from the University of California, and got back into his research upon the early explorations of the Pacific Coast of North America that had begun many years before. One of his latter works was "Francis Drake on the Northwest Coast of America in the Year 1579: The Golden Hinde did not Anchor in the Bay of San Francisco" (Transactions and Proceedings of the Geographical Society of the Pacific, 1908). This text was at first controversial, for it had been assumed by many that it was Sir Francis Drake who first discovered San Francisco Bay. Davidson provided ample evidence that Drakes anchorage was at what is now Drake's Bay, immediately east of Point Reyes. Davidson died on December 2, 1911; the legacy of his highly accomplished life is preserved in the huge body of published works produced by his prolific pen.

The life of George Davidson is commemorated by eight official geographical place names, which include San Francisco's Mount Davidson, the highest point in the city. The renaming of this peak (which was then called Blue Mountain) occurred a few weeks after Davidson's death in 1911. The Sierra Club, of which Davidson had been a long-time member, lead the effort to make the name official.

An Easter sunrise service on the summit of San Francisco's Mount Davidson. Reproduced from Lewis (1954).







Figure 1. The southern Big Sur Coast partially obscured by a bank of clouds. 1, "Cape San Martin;" 2, "Outer Piedras Blancas;" 3, "Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, NW. by N. .5 miles;" 4, "Inner Piedras Blancas."


The Landfall. The mountains, which had fallen back behind Los Esteros [Estero Bay], gradually approach the coast north of San Simeon; and about six to eight miles northwest of the Piedras Blancas the rolling lands terminate abruptly at the base of the southern angle of the Sierra Santa Lucia,* which runs to Point Carmel [Point Lobos] and forms the boldest and most compact shore on the California or Oregon Coasts. The range attains a nearly uniform elevation of four thousand feet, with peaks toward the northern end [in the central section] of five and even six thousand feet. From their abrupt faces we have seen cascades falling from heights of forty or fifty feet directly into the sea.

*Named Las Sierra Nevadas in 1542 by Cabrillo, who placed them in latitude thirty-seven and a half degrees. In December, 1602, Vizcaino named them the Sierra Santa Lucia, and says that they are the usual landfall for the ships from China. On his chart he has the legend for this part of the coast: Costa de sierras dobladas de mucha arboleda. In 1769 Father Junipero Serra's party [the Portola expedition; Serra arrived later by sea] came upon this barrier, and Don Miguel Constanzo [Costanso], the engineer, determined the latitude of the southern foot of the Sierra Santa Lucia 35° 45' "; a good approximation.


Figure 2. The portion of the Vizcaino chart that includes the Big Sur Coast. The legend along the coast in the center is Costa de sierras dobladas de mucha arboleda, which I translate as: "Coast of rugged and much wooded mountains." To the upper right is the Monterey Peninsula, and the legend in the bay is Puerto de Monterrey, "Port of Monterrey" (in its original spelling). At the tip of the peninsula the legend is Punta de Pinos, "Point of Pines." The roundish protrusion on the coast between the peninsula and the Costa de sierras is Point Sur, with the accompanying legend Punta q parece isla, i.e., "Point appearing to be an island." In the lower left is a highly exaggerated representation of Estero Bay, with Moro Rock appearing far off shore. Reproduced from Mathes (1968).

The two highest peaks of the range are Cone Mountain (elsewhere referred to as Twin Peak) and Mount Santa Lucia [Junipero Serra Peak], lying north of Cape San Martin. The former is a conical, tree-clad peak, about five thousand two hundred feet in elevation, and lies in latitude 36° 03', longitude 121° 29', and three miles from the coastline. The latter is about six thousand feet in elevation, lies in latitude 36° 08.5', longitude 121° 25', and about nine or ten miles from the coastline. A deep valley, parallel with the coast range, lies between these two great mountains. Mount Santa Lucia has great pine trees on and about its double head, but they may not be readily made out from seaward; nor can this double head be made from seaward, the depression between them being very slight and short. In clear weather the mountain should be seen at a distance of eighty-five miles; but it is not seen by the coastal steamers, as they usually keep about three miles from the coast-line. [Davidson's familiarity with Junipero Serra Peak comes from an expedition he lead to the summit to observe the total eclipse of the sun in January of 1880. His report on this event was featured in the "Past Times" column of the Spring Equinox, 1999 edition of the Double Cone Quarterly].


The [San] Carpoforo is a deep canyon-like streambed at the northern limit of the high, rolling lands northward of Piedras Blancas, and the commencement of the great barrier of the Sierra Santa Lucia. One and a half miles in from the mouth of the creek, Bald Top Mountain reaches two thousand four hundred and fifty feet elevation, and then the crest-line runs northwestwardly nearly parallel to the shore.

After passing the Carpoforo the cliffs become very wild, black and jagged, and rise two hundred to even five hundred feet above the sea; they are precipitous and do not spread out at the water-line, where there is no beach and but a few small rocks visible close in shore. Outside of the shore there is a narrow line of kelp that reaches from three hundred to five hundred yards from the base of the cliffs.


Figure 3. 1, "San Martin Rock, 134 feet;" 2, "Cape San Martin, NW. ½ N., 21 miles."

The first crest-line is less than two miles from the shore, and averages nearly twenty-five hundred feet elevation. It is narrow and sharp, very rough and rocky, and marked in a few places by scattering pine trees. Deep and rocky arroyos are cut from the ridge to the sea, and many of them are absolutely impassable. The main trail is consequently forced to keep along the crest-line. Here and there on the top of the cliffs are small areas of moderate slope, and settlers' houses are seen in every available spot. The steamer captains learn to know the peculiarities of these houses as they skirt the shore in thick or stormy weather.

Salmon Creek opens through a deep gorge three miles from the Carpoforo. It is the deepest canyon thus far, and is notable as breaking down the crest-line from twenty-five hundred feet to less than one thousand. On the east-side of this depression is Mount Mars, and on the west-side is Silver Peak. At the west-side of the mouth of the canyon is the rocky butte called Salmon Cone; through the depression of the coast line is seen Lion Peak. A large body of water tears down the canyon with torrential force, and at several hundred feet above the sea the descent is so sharp that the broken water presents from seaward the appearance of a high, narrow waterfall.

Salmon Peak [Cone]. This landmark is well known to the navigators. It is a bold, rocky butte, only two hundred yards from the shore, and is situated on the [north]west side of the mouth of Salmon Creek. It rises to four hundred and forty-one feet elevation with a low neck immediately behind it. It is, however, projected boldly against the higher mountain mass behind it. On the west-side of the butte there was an old Chinese fishing camp and landing. The butte is nine and a half miles north forty-two degrees west (N. 42° W.) from the lighthouse at Piedras Blancas.


Figure 4. 1, "Rock [San Martin Rock], 134 feet;" 2, "Cape San Martin, N. 31° W., 17 miles," 3, "The Twins [Cone and Twin Peak], 5,100 feet, 25 miles."

White Rock No. 1. Nearly half a mile outside the slight projection just west of Salmon Creek this rock lies out in comparatively deep water. It is thirty-nine feet high and has a slight patch of kelp on the shore side. One hundred and ninety yards to the westward of this rock there is a rock awash at lowest tides. There is no kelp around it. The kelp along the cliff shore extends about half way out to White Rock. This rock lies nine and half miles north forty-four and a quarter degrees west (N. 44¼° W.) from the lighthouse on Piedras Blancas.

White Rock No. 2. This rock lies close under the cliffs, which are here two hundred and fifty feet high. It is two and one-eighth miles northwestwardly from Salmon Creek, and eleven and a half miles north forty-four and a half degrees west (N. 44½° W.) from Piedras Blancas lighthouse. It is well inside the line of kelp which here extends out about one-third of a mile. No height is given for this rock.

It is dangerous to go inside the kelp along this shore. Between White Rock No. 1 and White Rock No. 2 there are hidden dangers in the outer edge of the kelp, and also one rock awash at the lowest tides.

Mars Mountain. This is one of the peaks in the crest-line north of the Carpoforo [Creek]. It is a bare-topped butte about three-quarters of a mile eastward of the Salmon Creek depression and one mile from the shore. It is twenty-five hundred and eighty-eight feet high. From the lighthouse at Piedras Blancas it bears north thirty-three and a half degrees west (N. 33½° W.), distance nine and a half miles.

The geographical position of this landmark is: latitude 35° 48' 38" north, longitude 1214° 20' 30" west.

Silver Peak. This is another peak of the outer crest-line of Sierra Santa Lucia. It is chaparral covered, and lies two miles to the [north]westward of the Salmon Creek depression and two miles inside the coast-line abreast of White Rock No. 2. It rises to a height of thirty-four hundred and ninety six feet, and deep gorges run from its summit down to Salmon Creek, to the ocean and to the northward. It lies eleven and a half miles north thirty-four and a quarter degrees west (N. 34¼° W.) from the lighthouse at Piedras Blancas.

The geographical position, as given by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, is: latitude 35° 50' 46" north, longitude 121° 21' 35" west.

Lion Peak. This is a well-known landfall in the second inner crest-line of the Sierra Santa Lucia, and is more particularly noticeable when seen through the depression of Salmon Creek on a north-northeast bearing. It lies three and one-third miles from the mouth of Salmon Creek, and rises to an elevation of thirty-six hundred and eighty feet.

The geographic position of the peak, as determined by the Coast and Geodetic Survey, is: latitude 35° 50' 59" north, longitude 121° 19' 20" west.


Figure 5. 1, "Pico Blanco (has just disappeared) 3660 feet, NW., 39 miles;" 2, "The Twins, 5,100 feet, N. NW., 18 miles;" 3, "Plaskett Rock, 84 feet;" 4, "Cape San Martin, N. NW., 10 miles;" 5, "San Martin Rock, 134 feet." At the far left is Point Sur (6), and the two high points on the ridgeline (7) may represent Marble and Anderson Peaks.

The Twin Peaks. This is the name given to Cone Mountain [Cone Peak and Twin Peak] by the navigators on this coast. As seen from certain directions it presents but one peak, and from Mount Santa Lucia [Junipero Serra Peak] there is no appearance of a second peak. But from the shore to the northwest and southeast and from seaward a second peak is clearly made out, and the Twin Peaks have become a noted landmark that is frequently visible when the lower mountains and shore are hidden by thick haze or smoke, or moderately low shore fogs.


Figure 6. 1, "The Twins and Cape San Martin, N. by W. W., 19 miles."

The Twin Peaks lie almost exactly halfway between Piedras Blancas and the Sur [Point Sur], and only three miles from the sea. The outer peak is slightly the lower, and is half a mile west of the principal cone. Vessels approaching them from the southeastward on the usual course, passing a mile outside of the Piedras Blancas and two or three miles off Cape San Martin, first make them out over the shoulder of Cape San Martin when four or five miles northwest of the Piedras Blancas, bearing nearly north thirty-nine degrees west (N. 39° W.) distant twenty-one and a half miles.

The two peaks are then estimated to be about two degrees apart, and the eastern one is apparently the higher and slightly more peaked. The depression between them is about one degree. When they are [seen] bearing northeast three quarters (NE. ¾ E.) (or abeam on the usual course up or down the coast) they are still well separated, but the western peak has its distinctive front [blocked?] by a lower rounded peak coming in front of it. In this position a vessel sees Lopez Point, a small tableland about eighty feet high, on the coastline under the Twin Peaks. When running to the northwestward of the Twin Peaks they appear as one when they bear about east by north one-third north (E. by N. 1/3 N.) with a shoulder of the range curving from Cone Peak to Lopez Point almost hiding them. From the summits of the peaks nearly to the shore, the face of the range is cut by great chasms and presents a wild and terribly broken aspect. As the steamers on schedule time always pass the Twin Peaks in the night it has been difficult to observe details.


Figure 7. 1, "The Twins, 5,100 feet; NE. ¾ N., 6 miles;" 2, "The Twins Cove;" 3, "rock [Harlan Rock?] 3 miles." As will be seen, Davidson has the location of his "Twin Peaks Cove" confused, for in his text he places it immediately northwest of Plaskett Rock and the Pacific Valley Landing.

Twin Peaks Cove [Sand Dollar Beach]. This is the name of the cove immediately under the southwest flank of the Twin Peaks Mountain [As depicted in figure 7, above, Davidson is confused about the location of his "Twin Peaks Cove"].

Plaskett Rock is eighty-four feet above the high water; it is at the southeast point of the Pacific Valley Landing in Twin Peaks Cove.

Pico Blanco or the Sur Peak, for a description of which see landmarks at Point Sur, pages 135, 136.

Mount Carmel, lying north thirty-three degrees east (N. 33° E.) seven and quarter miles from Point Sur, rises to an elevation of four thousand four hundred and fourteen feet above the sea, and is visible seventy-five miles from seaward. It lies in latitude 36° 26' 01" north, longitude 121° 47' 18" west. In the Coast Survey triangulation it is called Boulder Mountain because the rounding, treeless summit is covered with great boulders.


Figure 8. 1, "The Twins, 5,100 feet, N. NE., 10 miles."

Description of the shore-line. A detailed description of the shore-line immediately to the northward of Point Piedras Blancas, as far as Arroyo San Carpoforo, has already been given. The stretch from San Carpoforo to Cooper's Point, just south of Point Sur, has been reconnoitered, and therefore a reasonably close description can be given.

From Point Piedras Blancas the coast trends northwest three quarters west (NW. ¾ W.) for fifty-seven miles in an almost straight line, this course passing three miles outside Cape San Martin at sixteen miles. From Point Piedras Blancas to Point Sur the course is north fifty-four degrees west (NW. 54° W.), and the distance forty-eight and three quarters miles.

Salmon Head. Following the coast nine and a half miles from Piedras Blancas is the mouth of the Salmon Creek Canyon, which is very deep and crooked, and opens upon the coast close under the south side of Salmon Head. The latter is a precipitous head forming a slightly projecting point rising fifteen hundred feet above the sea in one quarter of a mile, with still higher, rocky mountains rising close behind it. This head lies north thirty-five degrees (N. 35° W.) six and a quarter miles from Point Sierra Nevada [which is located between Ragged Point and Piedras Blancas; and named for a ship that ran aground there].

One mile to the north-northwest from it [Salmon Head], Soda Mountain rises to twenty-five hundred feet only one half mile from the shore; Silver Peak, two and one third miles to the north, reaches three thousand three hundred and seventy-five feet, only one and one-third mile from the shore.


Figure 9. 1, "The Twins, 5,100 feet, N. 2/3 E., 13 miles." In the foreground are the Lopez Point headlands.

Two white rocks lie half a mile off the shore abreast Salmon Head. They are each about fifty feet high. The southern one lies almost three quarters of a mile south of the head, and five and a half miles north thirty-nine degrees west (N. 39° W.) from Point Sierra Nevada. There are smaller rocks stretching out from it towards the northwest for half a mile; the outer one of these is about twelve feet above the water, and has a knob on the top, suggesting the idea of a gigantic bird. The second, or northern, white rock lies a little over one mile to the northwest of the former and about half a mile off shore. It is estimated to be about fifty feet high, but not quite so large as the southern rock. It lies off the face of the terrifically precipitous mountains from Salmon Head northwestward. From Point Sierra Nevada it bears north forty-one degrees west (N. 41° W.) distant six and two thirds miles.

Between Salmon Head and the southern part of Cape San Martin there are three short mountain streams that enter through deep canyons: Buckeye Canyon, Villa Creek and Alder Creek. Close under the shore on the south side of Alder Creek Canyon there is a white rock about fifty feet high. There is a ranch house on the north side of the canyon. The stream heads up under Alder Creek Mountain [Alder Peak], which rises to three thousand five hundred feet at two and one-third miles in a straight line from the mouth of the canyon. The canyon is full of large redwood trees.

One mile to the northwest of this canyon is the southern part of Cape San Martin, twenty seven hundred and six feet above the sea.


Figure 10. 1, "The Twins, 5100 feet, NE. by N. 2/3 N., 9 miles." Although Davidson states the vantage point for this illustration at nine miles, it appears to me to be much farther offshore than the view in figure 9, which is at 13 miles.


Fourteen miles northwest from the Piedras Blancas the southern part of the bold headland of Cape San Martin* makes out a wild, precipitous spur of the mountains. It presents a front of three miles in extent, and the middle part is sixteen miles north forty-four degrees west (N. 44° W.) from the Piedras Blancas, and thirty-three and one-quarter miles south sixty degrees east (S. 60° E.) from the Sur [Point Sur]. At its southern angle this headland rises to twenty-seven hundred and six feet elevation at less than half a mile from the shore. It is a massive, broad shoulder of the coast range crowding down upon the ocean.

*Formerly called Punta Gorda. This head is not the Cape San Martin of Cabrillo, 1542, although named in commemoration of his discovery. The point he so named was the northern extremity of the Sierra Santa Lucia ending at Point Carmel or Point Pinos.

From the shore, the rugged and almost inaccessible mountains stretch northward from the southern point of the head, rising to thirty-one hundred feet in one and two thirds miles from the shore. There is said to be an anchorage under the south side of the cape, but it is only a lee for small craft against heavy northwest winds. The north point of the cape forms the southern limit of the Pacific Valley Cove.

The geographic position of the middle of the cape is latitude 31° 53' 45" north, longitude 121° 26' 10" west, and from the cape we have the following bearings and distances to important points. Piedras Blancas Lighthouse: S. 44° E. distant 16 miles; Point Sur N. 60° W. distant 33¼ miles.

San Martin Rock. Off the cape, and for two or three miles along the shore to the northward, there are numerous rocks close under the shore. But San Martin Rock lies two-thirds of a mile broad off the northern part of the cape. It is a small rock, sharp pointed, somewhat conical in outline, and reaches a height of one hundred and thirty-four feet above high water, from a base of about fifteen yards. It is the Great White Rock.

In the vicinity of Cape San Martin the northwest winds, following the trend of the shore, blow with terrific force, and the smaller coasting steamers, bound northward, are compelled to hug the rocky outline of the coast very closely, generally keeping about three-quarters of a mile out. Even with these strong winds the swell is not heavy, and the water is very bold.

Danger near Cape San Martin. In May, 1885, a rock was reported about five miles northwestward of Cape San Martin, and one mile (but probably less) off shore. This would place it at the southern part of Coxe's Hole. It was at the time of ordinary low water, and the top of the rock was visible a foot above the water as the large swells would roll in from it. It is a small black rock, and the break upon it was at first mistaken for a whale spouting. Many of the coasting steamers keep close in here to avoid the force of the wind and sea, and this reported rock is therefore a danger to them.

Coxe's Hole or Pacific Valley Cove. This is a bight lying to the northward of Cape San Martin, and between it and Lopez Point. From Cape San Martin to Lopez Point the bearing is northwest by west (NW. by W.) and the distance is six and half miles. The shore retreats two miles to the eastward of this line and forms an anchorage in strong northwest winds. The shoreline is formed by the base of the cliffs which border a narrow tableland at the base of the steep mountains. This mesa is from sixty to one hundred feet above the water. Nearly in the middle of this bight is the mouth of the deep "Redwood Canyon" [probably Plaskett Creek or maybe Prewitt Creek] which heads high into the mountains. Off the mouth of the canyon there is summer anchorage in six to eight fathoms of water, with a good boat landing on a sandy beach [Sand Dollar Beach]. There are a few houses and a schoolhouse here. The remains of an old chute were still standing in 1885. The canyon is densely wooded with fine redwood trees, ranging from six to four feet in diameter and two hundred feet in height.


Figure 11. 1, "The Twins, in line, 5,100 feet, E. ¼ N., 14 miles." At this angle Lopez Point is at 2, and the mouth of the Vicente Creek is at 3. The sharply pointed peak in the far distance (4), behind the ridgeline, is a mystery to me.

Lopez Point. This is narrow tableland or terrace, eighty or ninety feet high, forming the northwest point of Coxe's Hole. It projects from the base of the mountainous ridge which curves hence to the northward and then sweeps east to Cone Peak or the Twins. This ridge attains twenty-six hundred and twenty-six feet elevation within one and one-quarter miles behind the point, and reaches five thousand one hundred feet at the Twins.


Figure 12. 1, "The Twins, 5,100 feet, E. NE., 11 miles." The Lopez Point headlands are in the foreground.

Lopez Point lies north forty-seven degrees west (N. 47° W.) twenty-five miles from Point Piedras Blancas. Under it there is a good northwest lee and anchorage in six fathoms, but there is no boat landing nearer than Redwood Canyon, three miles to the east-southeast. The geographical position of the point is latitude 36° 00' 15", and longitude 121° 31' 22".

Lopez Rock. This is an isolated rock lying half a mile off shore, and one and a half miles northwest of Lopez Point. It is estimated to be sixty feet high with a base about ten yards in extent. This rock, lying close under the shore abreast the Twin Peaks, was noted as having four caverns in its side as we passed within a one mile of it in 1873.

The Devil's Canyon [Big Creek]. Five miles along the shore to the northwest from Lopez Point is the mouth of a deep canyon, with a slightly projecting point one mile to the northwest of it. This point reaches an elevation of thirteen hundred and eighty feet within one-third of a mile from the shore. The canyon heads under the crest-line of the range only two and a half miles back from the shore.


Figure 13. With the exception of "The Twins, 5,100 feet, 6½ miles" (1), Davidson's legends for this figure are erroneous. At station 2 he has "Lopez Rock, distant 1 mile," but this is Square Black Rock. At 3 Davidson has "Cape San Martin, SE. by E. ¼ E., 14 miles," but it should be the much nearer Lopez Point. At 4 he has "San Martin Rock, 134 feet," but it should be Lopez Rock, which Davidson estimated to be about 60 feet high. In the center is the opening of the Big Creek Canyon.

Anderson or Hot Springs Landing. This open and unprotected anchorage is half a mile broad offshore, and about one-mile to the west-northwest of Hot Springs Canyon. It is eight and a half miles northwestward from Lopez Point, and seventeen and a quarter miles southeastward from Point Sur. The usual anchorage is just outside the kelp, in seven fathoms of water over a rocky bottom. The boat landing is on a rock lying one hundred and ten yards from the shore. Freight is then moved from this rock to the shore over a wire rope. The small coasting steamers land freight here.

The anchorage is marked by the mouth of the Hot Springs Canyon, and the landing obtains its name from four or five jests of steam rising from some warm springs in the canyon. They are visible from the seaward when a vessel is close in. A [triangulation] station on the north side of the canyon, only three-quarters of a mile from the mouth, is fifteen hundred and sixty feet in height, and Rock Slide Station, only one and two-thirds miles to the eastward, is thirty eight hundred and fifty feet above the sea.


Figure 14. 1, "The Twins, opening, E. S., 18 miles."

From the anchorage the high peak named Anderson, only two and quarter miles inside the shoreline, rises to four thousand one hundred and forty feet, and bears north; Rock Slide bears east by north (E. by N.).

Partington and West Landing. This open anchorage is nine and a half miles from the Sur, and three and a quarter miles southeast of Pfeiffer's Point, which forms somewhat of a protection in breaking the heavy northwest swell. There is a small indentation in the shoreline of about two hundred yards in breadth and depth, into which the small coasting schooners are hauled under a chute from the cliffs. They lie here in five fathoms of water to receive tanbark, etc. But the anchorage is half a mile outside in twelve fathoms of water over rocky bottom. The anchorage and landing are considered good during the summer months. From the anchorage Pfeiffer's Point bears about west three-quarters north (W. ¾ N.), and Olmstead [triangulation] station [Michaels Hill or a high point to the southeast], on the coast range, lies about northeast half north (NE. ½ N.), distant two and a quarter miles from the shoreline and rising to about four thousand feet elevation.


Figure 15. Although Davidson is correct with "Pico Blanco, 3,660 [3709] feet, N. by W. ½ W., 12 miles" at station 1, at 2 he is mistaken. Here he has "Mount Carmel, 4,417 feet, N. 2/3 W., 15 miles," but it should be the 4,853 ft. Ventana Double Cone. To the left of the Double Cone (3) is The Window and Kandlbinder Peak. The higher points of the central ridge represent Post Summit (4) and Manuel Peak (5).

Pfeiffer's Point. This is quite a high and precipitous point, lying north fifty four degrees west (N. 54° W.), forty six and three quarters miles from Piedras Blancas, and south sixty degrees east (S. 60° E.) six miles from the Sur [Point Sur], but this last course passes just over Cooper's Point, one and a half miles to the west-northwest. The point faces the sea with a front five hundred feet in height and runs back as a great ridge, curving to the northeast and then east, for five miles to the summit of Station Olmstead, four thousand feet above the sea. This ridge rises to two thousand feet about one and a half miles northeast (N. E.) from the point.

On the north side of the point is the opening of a deep gulch [Sycamore Canyon] with a stream. Under the southeast side of the point there is a good northwest lee under the steep cliffs. The anchorage is in from seven to ten fathoms over clay bottom at the outer edge of the kelp. There is no boat landing, on account of the precipitous cliff. There is no kelp outside.

Over Pfeiffer's Point the Pico Blanco, or Sur Peak, rises to thirty-six hundred and sixty feet on the bearing north by west three-quarters west (N. by W. ¾ W.), distant five miles.


Figure 16. 1, "The Sur [Point Sur], NW. ¼ W., 26 ½ miles." 2, "Pico Blanco."

Cooper's Point. This slightly projecting cliff is four and two-thirds miles southeast by east one-quarter east (SE. by E. ¼ E.) from the Sur, and one and a half miles west-northwest (W N W) from Pfeiffer's Point. It lies just inside the course from Piedras Blancas to the Sur. It is a sharp, narrow point with precipitous cliffs, and rises over one hundred feet above the water. It stretches out to the west-southwest. Behind it the rugged hills rise to twelve hundred feet in three-quarters of a mile, and to about three thousand feet in three miles.

Hidden Danger off Cooper's Point. On the prolongation of Cooper's Point, at two hundred yards distance, is a black, rocky islet (the outer one of three) one hundred yards long, with foul ground and breakers beyond. Outside of this lies a sunken rock with seventeen feet of water upon it, which is not marked by kelp but generally breaks. There is a depth of from six to ten fathoms close around it, and ten fathoms midway between it and the rocky islet inside. It lies six hundred and twenty-five yards west by south (W. by S.) from the point, and is outside the line joining Point Sur and Cape San Martin. From Point Sure it bears south fifty-eight and a half degrees east (S. 58° ½ E.), distant four and a half miles.


Figure 17. 1, "Pico Blanco, 3660 [3709] feet, N. by W. ¼ W., 10 miles." In the foreground is Pfeiffer Ridge, which ends at Cooper's Point (2).

One mile outside the point, the depth of water is twenty-five fathoms; at two miles, sixty fathoms; and at two and half miles, one hundred and twenty-five fathoms.

The geographical position of the extremity of Cooper's Point, as determined by the triangulation of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, is: latitude 36° 14' 58" north, longitude 121° 50' 16" west.

The [Big] Sur River is a small mountain steam emptying to the south under a point of land lying parallel with the coast, and therefore marking the mouth from seaward. It is two and a half miles south sixty-eight degrees east (S. 68° E.) from Pont Sur. Off Sur River, to the southward of the kelp field, three is a fair anchorage with good boat landing during the summer months. Some tanbark is shipped from there, and occasionally an otter-hunting schooner anchors there in the latter part of the winter and early spring. To reach the anchorage, pass through an opening in the kelp from which the mouth of the Sur River bears northeast (NE.); when inside the kelp anchor in seven fathoms. The boat landing is under the north point in a small cove on a sandy beach. Freight and lumber have been landed here.

False Sur. One and one-eighth miles east by south half south (E. by S. ½ S.) from the Sur there is a hillock on the shoreline rising to about one hundred and eighty feet elevation, and the captains of the coasting steamers say that in approaching it from the southeast, in thick weather before they see the Sur, this hillock sometimes deceives them on account of its resemblance to the Sur. The height is deceptive when everything is seen through the fog and mist, and especially if the mist or fog lies low on the water.

Dangers south of Point Sur. From Cooper's point to the Sur River the coast is bordered by broken kelp fields for a width of half a mile out to twelve and thirteen fathoms of water. From the Sur River a great field of kelp begins and runs hence to the Sur, extending over a mile from shore.

Very foul ground begins three miles southeast (SE.) of the Sur and extends even outside the limits of the great kelp-field, which reaches out to fifteen and even to eighteen fathoms of water.


Figure 18. 1, "The Sur NW. ½ N., 11 miles." 2, "Pico Blanco, 3660 feet, N. by W. ½ W., 12 miles."

The fist shoal spot, with three and a half fathoms upon it, lies three-quarters of mile off the Sur River. It has deep water, ten to twelve fathoms, close around it, and eight fathoms on the south edge of the kelp which does not embrace this danger. There is foul ground and breakers between it and the shore. From Point Sur this danger lies south fifty-three degrees east (S. 53° E.), distant two and two-thirds miles.

The second shoal spot, with four and a half fathoms upon it, lies outside the limits of the kelp-field, but with straggling kelp about. This spot lies almost two miles south twenty-nine degrees east (S. 29° E.) from Point Sur, and one and one-eighth miles broad off the coast. The depths around it are five and six fathoms to ten and fifteen fathoms, indicating [a] very broken bottom with [a] possibility [of] bayonet rocks. A vessel would clear it by keeping on the very edge of the compact field of kelp, if she were compelled to do so.

Inside the kelp field there is one rock awash and four or five breakers, and between the kelp field and the low, sandy neck behind the Sur there are four or five other breakers having as little as six feet on the rocks and a very foul bottom through the kelp in the vicinity. So the locality is a very dangerous one, although we have come up through these dangers when the weather was clear and the wind was blowing so heavily that all the breakers were insight. Outside this rocky area the water deepens quickly, and there is a depth of thirty fathoms at two miles from the shore, and forty fathoms at two and a half miles, but the bottom is not regular.

The steamer Senator, bound north from San Diego, reported a narrow escape from total wreck three miles south by west (S. by W.) from the Sur. One of the paddle-wheels grazed a sunken rock, and close to the stern-post the vessel struck heavily enough to cause her to leak badly. The bearing and distance must have been reported erroneously, because even if the bearing be assumed south by east (S. by E.), there is forty fathoms at that distance. It is probable she was near this broken ground or inside the kelp on the rock awash, which is one and two thirds miles south fort-three degrees east (S. 43° E.) from the Sur.

The dangers immediately under Point Sur are mentioned in the description of that head.


Figure 19. 1, "The Sur, NW. by N. 2/3 N., 7 miles."

Shipmasters assert that between Piedras Blancas and the Sur there is something which attracts the north end of the compass needle half a point towards the land, but as this is only experienced occasionally, the cause is more likely to be with the unknown direction and force of the currents, or with uncorrected compasses.

Magnetic Variation. For January, 1885, the line of equal magnetic declination of sixteen degrees east cuts the coastline in latitude 36° 12', eight miles south of the Sur, and moves annually one minute of arc to the northward.


Fifty miles northwest three-quarters west (NW ¾ W.) from Point Piedras Blancas, and thirty-one miles north fifty-six degrees west (N. 56° W.) from Cape San Martin, is Point Sur (formerly called Los Lobos; Tebenkoti calls it Point Lobos in his atlas), making out two-thirds of a mile from the steep mountain side. This headland breaks the general straight line of the coast between Point Pinos and Cape San Martin, as is a well-known point of departure for vessels going north or south. From the north it is the first point made after leaving Point Año Nuevo.


Figure 20. 1, "Lighthouse site, 240 feet." 2, "The Sur, N. 65° E., 2½ or 3 miles." 3, "Pico Blanco, 3,660 feet, 7 miles." At this angle Pico Blanco loses its sharply conical appearance.

As seen from the north or south, at a distance of ten miles, Point Sur appears as a high, large, round-topped islet, but upon approaching it a low neck of land is seen connecting it with the main. This is a very notable feature. This neck consists of sand dunes, which are formed by the sand drifting from the northwest, and it not over twenty feet above the sea. The extent of the rock is about six hundred yards nearly east and west and four hundred yards in width. Its height is three hundred and fifty-eight feet, and the lower part is extremely broken and precipitous for sixty feet above the sea, with many rocky patches uncovering close under it to the westward at low water. It is particularly black at night and can not be mistaken.

There is a boat landing close under the Sur at the south side of the neck, where the kelp ends, and the coasting steamers sometimes land freight there. The three-fathom curve keeps close under the southeast shore of the head, but inside the six-feet line there are two visible rocks, of which the larger one under the cliff breaks part of the swell. The other is close to the east of the landing. The low-water beach is twenty-five yards wide at the joining of the beach and head.

There is one known hidden danger off the head. It is a rock with twelve feet of water upon it, and lies four hundred and fifty yards outside the Sur, with eight fathoms of water inside and fifteen fathoms close outside of it. There is no kelp to indicate its position, which is seven hundred yards south sixty-four degrees west (S. 64° W.) from the highest part of the Sur.

The depth of water at one mile broad off the Sur is twenty-seven fathoms, and at two miles it is thirty-six fathoms, with a regular bottom.

Tides. The times and heights of the high and low waters under the Sur can be taken the same as at Monterey. The greatest range of tides observed during the progress of the hydrographic survey as seven and nine-tenths feet.


Figure 21. 1, "Pico Blanco, 3,660 feet, E., 8 miles;" 2, "The Sur, SE. ¾ E., 5 miles;" 3, "The Twins, 5,100 feet, E. SE., 29 miles." I think Davidson may be mistaking "The Twins" for nearer peaks, perhaps Anderson and Marble Peaks.


A whistling buoy of first class, having black and white perpendicular stripes, has been placed off Point Sur in twenty-three and a half fathoms of water, south forty-two degrees west (S. 42½° W.) distant one mile (less one hundred yards) from the highest part of the head. It can be passed closely on either side. The whistle is sounded by the action of the sea and gives from twenty to thirty continuous blasts each minute. With a heavy sea and fresh wind from west-northwest we heard the sound of the buoy one-mile to leeward and half a mile to windward of it. In December, 1884, we heard it from a distance of nearly tow miles, giving frequent blasts from one-half to three-quarters of a second duration.

The geographical position of the summit of Point Sur, as determined by the Coast and Geodetic Survey, is:

Latitude	   36 18' 13.3" north.
Longitude	   121 53' 58" west.
Or in time	   8h 07m 35s. 87.

In January, 1885, the magnetic variation was 16° 00' east, and decreasing annually one minute.

From Point Sur we have the following bearings and distances to prominent points:

Point Arguello bears                    S. 45° E. distant 121 miles.
Point Buchon bears                     S. 55° E. distant 80 miles.
Piedras Blancas Lighthouse         SE. ¾° E. distant 50 miles.
Cape San Martin                        S. 58° E. distant 31 miles.
Point Cypress                             N. 28½° W. distant 16¾ miles.
Point Año Nuevo Fog-signal       N. 40° W. distant 53 miles.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse              N. 4½° W. distant 58 miles.

On the latter course the lighthouse on Point Pinos will be abeam at eighteen miles from the Sur, at distant six and a half miles from the ship.


Figure 22. 1, "Pico Blanco, 3,660 feet, SE. 2/3 E., 17 ½ miles;" 2, "The Sur."

Landmarks. There are two notable peaks close behind the Sur on the crest-line of the Sierra Santa Lucia.

Pico Blanco, the Sur Peak of the coasting captains, is a short-pointed, white-topped mountain, lying four and a quarter miles north sixty-five degrees east (N. 65° E.) from the Sur. It is about thirty-six hundred feet above the Sea. When the Sur itself can not be seen on account of low fog or dense haze under the shoreline, the tops of the mountains are frequently discernable, and the Sur Peak becomes one of the special landmarks. In running along the coast from the northward, from Point Año Nuevo, and the Sur being invisible, the course is continued until this peak is abeam when the Sur has been passed one mile, and then the course is changed for Piedras Blancas. And in running to the northward from Piedras Blancas the course must be continued until the peak bears north sixty-five degrees east (N. 65° E.), directly over the Sur, when it is changed for Point Año Nuevo or for Point Cypress.

The second peak is Mount Carmel, or Boulder Mountain, which has a round-topped, treeless summit, and lies seven and one-ninth miles north thirty-three degrees east (N. 33° E.) from the Sur. It has and elevation of forty-four hundred and seventeen feet, and is visible from seaward about seventy-five miles.


Figure 23. 1, "Mount Carmel, 4,417 feet, SE. by E. ½ E., 19 miles." 2, "Pico Blanco, 3,660 feet, SE. ½ E., 20 miles." 3, "The Sur, SE. 2/3 S., 19 miles."

This peak is used by some of the captains when coming from the southeastward. They continue their course until the mountain is abeam when they will be half a mile past the Sur, and the course is then changed for Point Cypress or Point Año Nuevo.

Little River Hill is a low mountain under the flanks of the coast range, it is one and a half north fifty-one degrees east (N. 51° E.) from the Sur, and is thirteen hundred feet high. It will sometimes be made out when the higher and more distant mountains are in the clouds.

Lighthouse at Point Sur. A first-order light will be established low down upon the face of the seaward slope of Point Sur, and the lighthouse is now being erected. The need for such an aid to navigation is particularly great at this place because there is no first-class seacoast light nearer than Pigeon Point, fifty-eight miles to the northwest, and Point Piedras Blancas, fifty miles to the southeast. At the point selected, the light will be about one hundred and twenty feet above water and be visible close under the north and south shores.

The geographical position of the lighthouse is:

Latitude         36° 18' 18.7" north.
Longitude      121° 54' 08.9" west.
Or, in time     8h 07m 36.6s.

In the position of the Sur, Vizcaino's chart (1602) has a slight projection to indicate this notable feature, with the legend "Point appearing like an island." In his narrative he says the high mountains four leagues south of Carmel Bay are the landfall which ships from the Philippine Islands usually made. ["Landfall," as used here, corresponds to the first two of three definitions in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary: "a sighting of land from a ship at sea" and "the land sighted," and not to "a landing by ship or airplane." After the long voyage across the Pacific, the Manila Galleons (which were laden with valuable cargo from China), reached North America off the coast of northern California (in the vicinity of Cape Mendocino). Here they encountered the south-flowing California Current, which helped make the last leg of the voyage to Mexico rather quick].

Vancouver, in passing down the coast in 1793, thought this "small, high, rocky lump of land, lying nearly half a mile from the shore," was detached and that it formed an island. But he gave it no name.

The point received its name from the Mexican grant of land embracing it, which is known a "El Sur."

Deep-sea Soundings off the Sur towards the Southwest. Two lines of deep-sea sounding were run broad off the coast, under the flank of the Sierra Santa Lucia, by the U. S. steamer Tuscarora in 1873. We note here first line which was run on the 24th and 25th of December:

Miles from shore. Latitude
Surface.    Bottom.
Character of bottom.
36° 13'
36° 10'
36° 06'
36° 02'
35° 52'
35° 40'
121° 50'
121° 56'
122° 06'
122° 12'
122° 29'
122° 52'
Greenish-black sand, with shells.
Very hard greenish-black sand.
Hard grayish-black sand.
Greenish mud and sand.
Greenish mud.

This line of soundings is nearly at right angles to the line of the Sierra Santa Lucia, and the depth of the plateau of the Pacific Ocean at two thousand fathoms, distant sixty-two miles from shore, is confirmed by the two series of soundings to the north and to the south.

Deep-sea soundings off the Sur toward the West. On the 21st and 22nd of December, 1873, the U. S. steamer Tuscarora ran a line of soundings inshore from the plateau of the Pacific towards the northern end of the Sierra Santa Lucia, striking the coast-line between Point Sur and Carmel Point. The following table gives the positions, depths, etc., of each sounding.

Distance from the
shore near Carmel.
Surface.    Bottom.
Character of bottom.

36° 25'
36° 26'
36° 28'
36° 27'
36° 32'
36° 34'
36° 37'
122° 04'
122° 09'
122° 31'
122° 54'
123° 11'
123° 37'
123° 56'
Grayish-black sand.
Dark mud.
Greenish mud with black sand.
Greenish mud.
Greenish mud in ooze.

It will thus be seen that the plateau of the Pacific was found about seventy-eight miles broad off the coast of Point Año Nuevo. It is a curious fact that the sounding which reached twenty-one hundred and four fathoms is within two or three miles of one of the assigned positions of the Vitula Shoal, with a corroborating sounding of twenty-one hundred and sixty-eight fathoms eleven or twelve miles to the northwest and near another reported position of the same shoal.


Figure 24. 1, "Point Cypress" [somewhere in the foreground but not showing], SE. by ½ S., 4 miles." 2, "The Sur." 3, "Cypress Rock" [Cypress Point Rock]. Although Davidson did not provide other legends, number 4 is probably Pico Blanco and 5 is certainly Mount Carmel. The high point at the far left (6) may represent Chews Ridge; in the left foreground is the Monterey Peninsula.

Point Sur to Point Pinos. North of Point Sur the general coast line is quite straight to the south head of Carmel Bay, in no place retreating over a mile to the eastward. The details are quite irregular and the shore is closely bordered by numerous rocks and rocky islets, but all of them are inside the line between the points. From the outer limit of the Sur to the extremity of Point Cypress, which forms the northwest point of Carmel Bay and is the furthest point visible, the distance is seventeen miles and the bearing north thirty degrees west (N. 30° W.), passing very close to Whaler's Rock [Whaler's Knoll on Point Lobos], off the south of Carmel Bay, at thirteen miles.

The high mountains close behind the shoreline begin to decline in elevation as they are followed northward until they are cut by the valley of the Carmel River. They are mostly covered with chaparral and pine, the latter very thick in the gulches.

The water is very bold along this stretch of the coast. The ten-fathom line is never more than one-third of a mile from the shore, and the twenty fathom line about two-thirds of a mile; thence seaward the bottom is quite regular, increasing in depth to fifty fathoms at about two and a half miles from the shore. There are no known hidden dangers off this short stretch of coast, but the following points, rocks and islets are noted:

The Ventura Rocks. These are two moderately high rocky islets lying two and one fifth miles north-northwest (N. NW.) from Point Sur, and barely half a mile off the shore. They lie northwest and southeast (NW. and SE.) from each other, and the southeast one, which is fifty yards in extent, is the larger. There is ten to fifteen fathoms close around them and in deep water, ten to twelve fathoms inshore, except on the sunken rock which lies one hundred and ninety yards northeast two-thirds east (NE. 2/3 E.) from the highest part of the small northern rock.

Three quarter of a mile north-northwest (NNW.) of the Ventura Rocks a line of rocks and rocky islets begins close under Flat Point and runs for a mile and a half parallel with the coastline and only four or five hundred yards from it, with ten fathoms along their outer limit; thence northward the ten-fathom line is close inshore.

In April, 1875, the steamer Ventura, having taken her departure from Point Año Nuevo, struck upon the Ventura Rocks in thick weather, and was stranded one mile to the southeastward under the rocky point about half-way to the Sur, hence their name.

Soberanes Point, eight and half miles northwestward from the Sur, is not a prominent projection, as it hardly breaks the general outline of the coast, but it is known by the isolated hillock, two hundred feet high, just inside the shoreline, with a bare, grassy ridge behind it rising to over sixteen hundred feet. Off the south part of the point, about two hundred and thirty yards off shore, and half a mile southeast (SE) from the outer Piedras Lobos [Lobos Rocks], is a break with ten fathoms close outside.

One mile south fifteen degrees east (S. 15° E.) from Soberanes Point and over half a mile broad off shore, is a patch of broken ground almost a quarter of a mile in extent within the ten-fathom line. The least water found in it is six and three-quarters fathoms, but there may be less. Close outside of it there is a depth of eleven to thirteen fathoms, and between it and the shore from thirteen to eighteen fathoms. The locality has not been minutely examined.

Piedras de los Lobos [Lobos Rocks]. This cluster of two principal rocky islets and three small rocks lies about half a mile north of Soberanes Point and nine miles north twenty-eight degrees west (N. 28° W.) from the Sur. There is broken ground between them and the rocks close under the point, and at least one breaker in the passage, but outside, the depth is twenty fathoms close to them. No kelp is laid down about them, but it may exist in favorable seasons.

Yankee Point. This point is two and one-sixth miles northwest by north (NW. by N.) from the Piedras de los Lobos, and one and two-thirds miles southeast by south (SE. by S.) from the Whaler Rock at the south point of Carmel Bay [Point Lobos]. It is somewhat prominent, because the shore retreats eastward both north and south of it. The cliffs of the point are about one hundred feet high, very rugged, and closely bordered by many rocks. The surface of the rising land inside the point is not timbered for one third of a mile, then pine and oak cover the middle height of the mountain side.

Off Yankee Point the soundings are bold, but the bottom is badly broken to the northwest, with eleven fathoms the least water found. The thirty-fathom curve is half a mile off shore; the fifty-fathom curve is one mile; the seventy-fathom curve is three miles, and the eighty-fathom curve is four miles off shore. North of this is a deep submarine valley hereafter described.

Yankee Point Breaker. This danger lies one and five-sixths miles north thirty-five degrees west (N. 35° W.) from the Piedras de los Lobos, and just inside the ten-fathom curve. It is one-quarter mile off shore, and only one-fifth of a mile inside the line from the Sur to Point Cypress.

Hamilton's Landing [probably Bixby Landing, re. Clark, 1991]. It is reported that a chute landing, known as Hamilton's Landing, has been built out from the shore just northward of the Ventura Rocks. A sawmill with a capacity of twelve thousand feet of lumber per day has been erected there, and lumber and tan bark shipped thence.


This is the broad, open bay first made thirteen miles northward of the Sur, and lying five miles southward of Point Pinos. It is readily distinguished from seaward because the crest-line of mountains, which has been unbroken from near Piedras Blancas, breaks down behind this bay and gives passage-way to the Carmel River.


Figure 25. 1, "Point Cypress, N. by W. 2/3 W., 14 ½ miles." 2, "White rock." 3, "Two Trees, 1,900 feet, N. ½ E., 12 miles."

The bay lies between Point Cypress, forming the northwest point, and Point Carmel, which is the southwest point. Between these points the bay is three and seven-eighths miles across, although contracted about a mile by Timber Point [Sunset Point, re. Clark; Davidson must have meant the much more extended Pescadero Point], lying nearly southeast from Point Cypress. From the line joining the two points, the greatest recession of the shore to the eastward is two miles in the northeast cove and one and seven-eighths miles in the southeast angle of the bay. The eastern shore of the bay is two and quarter miles long about north by west half west (N. by W. ½ W.), with comparatively low cliffs. Two-thirds of a mile north-northwest (NNW.) from the southeast angle of the bay, the Carmel River debouches into the bay through a mouth about one hundred yards across, and in the extreme southeast part [of the bay] opens a small stream called the San Jose Creek. The eastern shores for a quarter of a mile back are destitute of trees, but pines and oaks thence cover the greater part of the surface.

*Rio Carmelo was the name applied to this stream by Vizcaino in December, 1602.

Point Carmel.* This is the southwest point of Carmel Bay and is locally known to the whalers and others as Point Lobos. It is a very irregular, jagged point of rock, nearly one hundred feet high, with numerous rocks close under the cliffs, several rocky islets nearly one-third of mile off, and one breaker half a mile off. The extremity of the point is sparsely covered with pine trees, and half a mile inside is a rocky hillock, known as Whaler's Knoll, whence a lookout for whales is kept. Inside of Whaler's Knoll the pines cover the surface well up the mountainside.

*On the old Spanish charts Punta de los Lobos.

Point Cypress. etc. ...


Figure 26. 1, "Rock, N. by W. ½ W., 3 ½ miles." 2, "Point Cypress." 3, "Cypress trees." 4, "Rocky cliffs."


CLARK, DONALD T. 1991. Monterey County Place Names. Kestrel Press, Carmel Valley.

LEWIS, OSCAR. 1954. George Davidson, Pioneer West Coast Scientist. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

MATHES, W. MICHAEL. 1968. Vizcaino and the Spanish Expansion in the Pacific Ocean, 1580-1630. California Historical Society, San Francisco.

Among the many biographies of George Davidson, there is another in depth one that I have not seen:

DAVENPORT, CHARLES. 1937. Biographical Memoir of George Davidson. National Academy of Sciences, v. 38.

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