Elmer Scott Rigdon was the third of four sons born to Rufus Rigdon and Indiana (sometimes called India) Scott Rigdon. Scott Rock was named for Greenup Scott, Indiana’s older brother. In the 1860s, Rufus and Indiana homesteaded a 145 acre parcel on the north side of Santa Rosa Creek just east of Cambria’s east village. Today, Fog’s End Bed and Breakfast stands in the southwest corner of the property. Elmer was born there on July 16, 1868.
In 1898, Elmer Rigdon, his wife, Alice, and his parents moved to the house on Lee Street (today called Burton Drive). This house was built by the Bright family in the early 1880s and, later in the decade, it was purchased and renovated by Merritt Trace and his son, Verne. In 1905, the Rigdons installed the first indoor bathtub in Cambria. In 2009, the house is contained within the Burton Street Inn.
Elmer Rigdon engaged in ranching and he was in the lumber business. He also owned a brickyard in Cambria located approximately where the Santa Rosa Church (not the chapel) presently stands. In addition, he owned Rigdon’s Hall on Main Street located approximately where Cambria Drug and Gift is in 2009.
In 1903, Elmer Rigdon began mining quicksilver at the Bank Mine on San Simeon Creek. Three years later he sold his interest in the mine and it became the Cambria Mine. He also had an interest in the Oceanic Mine, the largest quicksilver mine in the area.
Rigdon was elected to the state assembly in 1914 and two years later he was elected to the state senate where he was re-elected in 1920.
Dr. John L. D. Roberts, founding father of the city of Seaside, California, held a strong conviction for many years that a road should be built from Monterey to San Simeon. In 1897, he walked from Monterey to San Luis Obispo in five days and mapped out the course of the future road, estimating the total cost of building it at $50,000. Dr. Roberts managed to obtain the support of State Senator Elmer S. Rigdon who spearheaded pressure for a state appropriation
Thanks to Rigdon, Dr. Roberts addressed a joint session of the state legislature in 1915, attempting to convince them to fund the road. His presentation included colored stereopticon pictures projected onto a bed sheet hung on the wall behind the Speaker’s desk. In 1917, at the height of World War I, the state legislature’s defense committee ruled that priority must be given to roads of urgent military importance. The group lobbying for the road in Sacramento dropped the word ‘scenic,’ and when the Military Highway bill was passed, the Carmel-to-San Simeon highway was included as one of six roads necessary for defense.
On December 13, 1922, just as construction of the Carmel-San Simeon Highway began, Elmer Rigdon passed away in San Francisco where he had gone to seek medical treatment for a long illness. He is buried in the Cambria Community Cemetery.