The Brambles

September 15th, 2010

Although it has been added onto several times, the original structure that presently houses The Brambles restaurant on Burton Drive was a three-bedroom house built by George W. Proctor around 1874. Proctor was a blacksmith who came to California from New England in 1858. He moved to Cambria in 1861 and, with his partner George Davis, bought 31.5 acres from Samuel Pollard which included all of what is today Cambria’s east village. Proctor also built the three-story hotel at the corner of Bridge and Main Streets which burned down in the great fire of 1889. Read the rest of this entry »

Cambria, A Harbor Town History

September 15th, 2010

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Bixby Bridge

September 15th, 2010

Of the 32 bridges along Highway One between Cambria and Carmel, the largest, most famous, and certainly most photographed is the Bixby Bridge, about 18 miles south of Carmel. This was also the most difficult bridge to build. The bridge is an open spandrel arch design which means it has an open space between the deck and the arch members. The deck of the bridge is 356 feet long and rises about 260 feet above the creek below. The arch is supported by two concrete abutments 330 feet apart which are anchored to the sheer rock walls 140 feet above the creek bed. The south end of the arch has three 40 foot reinforced concrete approach spans and the north end has six, bringing the total length of the bridge to 716 feet. The arch alone required 6,600 cubic yards of concrete and 600,000 pounds of reinforcing steel and, when completed, on November 23, 1932, the Bixby Bridge became the largest arched highway structure in the western states. It is also unusual because it is built on a curve. Read the rest of this entry »

Santa Rosa Chapel

September 14th, 2010

The land on which the Santa Rosa Chapel was built was part of the lands of the Mission San Miguel (as was all of the Cambria area). When the Mexican Government secularized the missions in the 1830s and 1840s, land grants were given to prominent citizens and Rancho Santa Rosa was given to Don Julian Estrada while Rancho San Simeon was given to Don Jose Ramon Estrada.. Don Julian Estrada and his wife, Dona Nicolasa, built a house near the intersection of Highway One and Forty Six and they opened their home, guest quarters and gardens to accommodate the Catholic ceremonies in the area as local residents had no other place to worship. Priests from Mission San Luis Obispo and from Mission San Miguel celebrated mass and conducted marriages, baptisms and funerals in the Estrada compound. Read the rest of this entry »

George Proctor and George Davis

September 14th, 2010

On December 26, 1867, Samuel A. Pollard sold a 31.5 acre portion of his land to George W. Proctor and George S. Davis for $410. Although this was a tiny portion of the 1010 acre parcel which Pollard owned, it contained much of what eventually became Cambia’s East Village. Read the rest of this entry »

Wilfred Lyons

September 6th, 2010

One of the founding members of Cambria Historical Society, Wilfred Lyons once held the unofficial title of “Historian Emeritus” because he knew more about the history of Cambria than practically anybody. This is no surprise considering that he lived in Cambria for 97 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Land Grants After the Mexican War

August 10th, 2010

The war between the United States and Mexico was formally ended when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2, 1848. Article X of this treaty stated, in part, “All grants of land made by the Mexican government or by the competent authorities, in territories previously appertaining to Mexico, and remaining for the future within the limits of the United States, shall be respected as valid, to the same extent that the same grants would be valid, if the said territories had remained within the limits of Mexico.” Simply stated, if one owned a land grant issued by the Mexican government before the war, and that grant was within the boundaries of the United States after the war, both nations agreed that the grant ownership would continue undisturbed. Read the rest of this entry »

H. E. Serbaroli

July 11th, 2010

Anecdotes of an Artist’s Life in Cambria in the 1920s
by Joseph A. Serbaroli, Jr., Yonkers, NY

My grandfather, the artist Hector E. Serbaroli, was contacted in 1924 by the architect Miss Julia Morgan. She was looking for someone with broad-ranging artistic abilities to do decorative work on William Randolph Hearst’s magnificent castle in San Simeon. Grandfather was ideally suited to the task, because he had in-depth knowledge of European architectural detailing, which was precisely what Hearst and Morgan had in mind for the castle’s construction. He also had extensive experience doing original ornamental art in churches and buildings from Rome to Mexico to San Francisco. Read the rest of this entry »


May 31st, 2010

Although significant gold was found in the La Panza district in the eastern part of San Luis Obispo County and much gold prospecting occurred in the Cambria area, the only successful operations were in the Los Burros Mining District in the southwest corner of Monterey County. There are tales of gold mining activity in the Los Burros District as early as 1853, only five years after Marshall’s historic discovery at Sutter’s Mill, and a Monterey newspaper carried a clearly exaggerated story of $100,000 worth of gold being taken from the area in 1869.  As a result of this activity, the Los Burros Mining District was formed on February 5, 1875 and included a small portion of the northwest corner of San Luis Obispo County. It was bordered roughly by San Carpoforo Creek on the south, Prewitt Creek on the north (about 13 miles north of the county line), the Naciemento River on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Read the rest of this entry »

Point Piedras Blancas

May 25th, 2010

Point Piedras Blancas was put together by Carole Adams and John Bogacki. Carole Adams is a volunteer who has spearheaded the native plant restoration project at the light station and has coordinated the volunteer effort since 2001. When the Bureau of Land Management acquired the site in that year, John Bogacki became the first Site Manager and it was John who created the management plan for restoring Piedras Blancas Light Station to its former glory. Both Carole and John have been major contributors to the ongoing effort to develop a complete and accurate history of the lighthouse, its associated buildings and the surrounding landscape. Read the rest of this entry »

Dinner at the Lighthouse

May 25th, 2010

Captain Lorin V. Thorndyke served as head keeper of Piedras Blancas Light Station from 1879 to 1906, longer than anyone else. Shortly after arriving, he married Elizabeth Jarmon, a 27 year old lady from Wisconsin. Lizzie, as she was commonly known, had come to California to visit her sister, Mary, who was married to Tom Evans, owner of a ranch in close proximity to the light station. While she was at the station, Lizzie collected recipes recording them in a handwritten notebook. After seven years of marriage and two sons, Lizzie died at the age of 34. Read the rest of this entry »

Thomas Clendenen

May 17th, 2010

Thomas Clendenen only lived in the Cambria area for about 11 years. However, this is longer than he lived in almost any of the places he moved to.

Thomas Hamilton Clendenen was one of eleven children born to John Clendenin and Margaret Hamilton, John’s second wife. Thomas was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the family later moved to a farm near Sweetland, Iowa not far from Davenport, where both of his parents died. Read the rest of this entry »

Port Orford Cedar

April 20th, 2010

Among the many exotic trees in Cambria is the magnificent Port Orford cedar located near the southeast corner of the Cambria Historical Museum property on Center Street near the “blue house”. Usually not found this far south, this tree is believed to have been planted by the Guthries around 1900. Read the rest of this entry »

Heart’s Ease

April 20th, 2010

The historic building located on the northwest corner of Bridge Street and Burton Drive is today known as Hearts Ease, purveyor of herbs, plants and gardening supplies and owner of one of the most beautiful gardens in Cambria. But, since the house was built in the early 1870s, there have been around twenty different owners. Read the rest of this entry »

The Tea Cozy

March 27th, 2010

The property on which The Tea Cozy is built at 4286 Bridge Street has had more than a dozen owners but the house was built by Henry Williams in the late 1870s. Williams was a carpenter born in Wales and his wife, Sallie, was from England. Williams purchased the property from Jeffrey Phelan in 1877. Read the rest of this entry »

Olallieberry Inn

March 20th, 2010

This magnificent house at 2476 Main Street was built by the Manderscheid brothers, Otto and Carl, who were born in Prussia and who arrived in Cambria in 1872. Both of them were pharmacists and they operated a drug store on Main Street. In 1874 they bought a lot from A. M. Hardie and the following year they built the house out of Cambria pine. The redwood siding came from trees growing north of Lucia with the milling being accomplished at the Leffingwell saw mill. Read the rest of this entry »

The Souza House

March 3rd, 2010

On the southwest corner of the intersection of Burton Drive and Center Street stands the historic building that is now occupied by Robin’s Restaurant. However, this is not the first building to occupy that site. Read the rest of this entry »

Samuel Pollard

February 17th, 2010

As soon as he acquired the Rancho Santa Rosa from Don Julian Estrada, Domingo Pujol immediately hired a Mr. Ward to divide the rancho into smaller parcels and he sold them to many of the first settlers in the Cambria area. One of Pujol’s first customers was George E. Long, a farmer who was born in Georgia around 1829. In a single deal for $4348, Long purchased three parcels from Pujol totaling 2094.6 acres on October 12, 1866. One of these parcels was a triangular property at the mouth of Leffingwell Creek at the north end of Moonstone Beach amounting to 18.5 acres. The second parcel consisted of 1066.1 acres which ran along the south side of Santa Rosa Creek for about two miles beginning at a point in today’s East Village behind Cambria Tax and Financial Services. The third parcel, 1010 acres, included virtually all of what would become East Village, West Village, West Lodge Hill, Happy Hill and Liemert Estates. Read the rest of this entry »

The Guthries

February 5th, 2010

Though he is not generally considered one of Cambria’s pioneers, Samuel Guthrie played an important part in the town’s early history. Guthrie was born in Scotland in 1840. At the age of fourteen he went to Australia, where, for seventeen years, he was engaged in the mercantile business in Melbourne. In 1871 he traveled from Melbourne to San Francisco, and remained in California for the rest of his life. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. John Roberts

January 22nd, 2010

Although Dr. John L. D. Roberts never lived in the Cambria area, he was very important to its history. It was he who first conceived the idea for a year-round scenic highway from Carmel to San Simeon.

Born in Osceola, New York on January 16, 1861, Roberts attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and Union College in Schenectady and then earned a medical degree from the University of the City of New York. In 1887 he moved to California at the suggestion of his uncle, David Houghton, who owned a 160 acre ranch where Seaside and Sand City are currently located. Once he had established a practice, he sent for his fiancé, Edith Maltby, and they were married on October 25, 1887. Dr. Roberts eventually bought the ranch from his uncle for $5,000 and planned a town on the site which became the city of Seaside. He founded the Seaside post office in 1890 where he and his wife served as postmasters until 1932. In 1892 he was elected to the Monterey School Board where he served for 36 years and in 1908 he became a county supervisor, an office he held for 20 years including four years as chairman. Read the rest of this entry »