Cambria, A Harbor Town History

Gayle Baker, in her 2003 book Cambria, A Harbor Town History, presents a brief (less than 100 pages) history of Cambria and the surrounding area. It’s a “quick read” but it will give you an excellent picture of how Cambria came to be the way it is today. The book includes about a dozen and a half black-and-white photographs gleaned from the Wilfred Lyons  Collection, most of which are commonly seen and some of which appear on this web site.

Baker covers several topics usually omitted in other publications including the Pinedorado celebration, the Guthrie-Bianchini House” the threat of commercial developments and water issues. On some topics there is a surprising amount of detail considering the diminutive size of the book. Also, names of people are printed in bold type making them easy to find and they are listed in the index.

It is notable that this book is one of the very few, if any, to correctly describe the  Hearst’s purchase of the Rancho Piedra Blanca which occurred over decades instead of incorrectly repeating the common belief that the entire rancho was acquired in a single purchase in 1865.

The first edition, printed in 2003, contained a number of errors in small details (e.g. dates). In the 2014 edition most of these have been corrected and, where necessary, the text has been corrected to reflect changes that have occurred in the interim.

This book is highly recommended to readers wishing to gain an understanding of Cambria history and the many threads which are interwoven to create it. In some areas it does not have the depth of Where the Highway Ends by Geneva Hamilton but it has much more breadth and nowhere near as many errors.

Cambria, A Harbor Town History is available at many Cambria stores. It can also be purchased either in paperback or electronic form at her website where all six of Gayle Baker’s books about California coastal towns are described.

4 Responses to “Cambria, A Harbor Town History”

  1. B&J says:

    We received the 2014 edition of this book on 2/24/14 and totally revised this review to reflect the changes.


  2. Gayle Baker says:

    Hi Bev and Jerry – Thanks so much for your reply and understanding of the mercurial (pun intended) character of Cambria’s story. So glad you are taking the lead untangling legend from truth.

    We now live on an Island in British Columbia, so my day-to-day contact with sales are limited, but I suspect sales are slow, and it will be awhile before it is time for a second edition. Before I go to press, though, I will be sure to run it by you. Maybe you would like me to also add things you have discovered?

    Since I left, I no longer know where it is being offered. If you know of places that should be selling it, please let me know, and I will contact them.

    Until then, I am in the process of launching my eight books on-line, and designing a new website. I am a traditional paper lover, but finally got it that I need to move with the times and try to avoid the fate of those who avoid technology, like Borders.

    Sorry to ramble, but it is lovely to know there are folks out there who care as I do about the stories of these wondrous towns. Cheers. . . Gayle

  3. B&J says:


    We can appreciate your problem. Almost everything published about the history of Cambria has some errors including the articles published here on the Cambria History Exchange. In fact, that is why we started the exchange so that these difficulties can ultimately be corrected by mutual agreement. We’re certain you discovered that no one person knows the history of Cambria but, collectively, we might get closer to the truth.

    Your book is excellent and we hope it is selling well.


  4. Gayle Baker says:

    I sincerely appreciate your comments and corrections. Of the eight books I have written, Cambria’s story was the most difficult. I continually found published material that conflicted with other published material, and found myself trusting local experts to guide me in the right direction.

    I will correct the errors you identified and would appreciate any additional corrections before I republish.

    Again, thanks for caring enough to help me get it right! Gayle

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