The towering pine trees among which we live in Cambria are, and always have been, very important to the existence and the character of our little village. Evidence of their significance abounds in the names of hotels, restaurants and real estate agencies and, in the past, developers have called the town Cambria Pines or Cambria Pines by the Sea.
In this slim volume, which you can easily read in a couple of hours, Taylor Coffman includes a plethora of information about these trees which can be found in only a few select locations along the coast of California and on two islands off Baja California. While locals often refer to them as “Cambria pines”, their correct name is Monterey pine or, as a botanist would call them, Pinus radiata. But Coffman is no botanist, a fact he makes perfectly clear in his preface.
He is, however, one of our best local historians having written a number of authoritative books about Hearst Castle. So, this book is mainly about the history of our local pines which grow along the coast between San Simeon Creek and Green Valley Road, otherwise known as California Highway 46. The origins of these magnificent giants is traced over the past 24 million years to the present time addressing such questions as, “How old is this forest? Where did its pines come from, and how did they get here? And why is Cambria one of their very few natural habitats?” He also describes how the pines survive and their relationship to the climate and to the other trees and plants which comprise “The Cambria Forest”.
Coffman has a unique style which draws the reader into the history he is writing about without getting so technical that one gets lost or discouraged. In this book, his writing is beautifully supplemented by Lynn Rathbun’s magnificent line drawings of the local flora and fauna. Inside the front cover is a map showing the location of Cambria’s pines and inside the back cover is a historical time line which puts the entire book into perspective.
If you are struck by the beauty of our local forest and you are curious about how it got here, Coffman can quickly satisfy your curiosity. The Cambria Forest was published by Coastal Heritage Press in 1995 and is available at local stores or on the internet.