Archive for August, 2009

Big Sur

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Big Sur Bridge

Big Sur Bridge

The Big Sur area of California is a coastal range of the Santa Lucia Mountains. It starts about 245 miles (394 km) north of Los Angeles and ends about 120 miles (193 km) south of San Francisco. The area extends about 20 miles (32 km) inland.

Several years ago I traveled with a friend through the Big Sur Area. Highway 1 is the only real road through the area. Highway 1 twists and winds through the Santa Lucia mountains making hundreds of turns. Each turn brings another breathtaking view. There are so many micro climates you can have redwoods one minute and cactus the next. Any land that is for sale comes with a high price tag. Usually over $2 million. Most residents are either original ranchers or wealthy entertainment types. The county ordinance that keeps all structures out of view of highway 1 keeps the area pristine and wild. Small observation pull offs give you plenty of opportunities to take pictures and marvel at the sights. There is even a waterfall that pours directly into the ocean. There are only 3 gas stations in the whole area and hotel rooms come at a premium. Highway 1 is an adventure in itself and a way to leave the civilized world behind at least for a day or two.


The first inhabitants were Indians. Three tribes lived in the big Sur Area for thousands of years. They were the Ohlone, the Esselen, and the Salinan. They were hunter gatherers and lived on mussels, abalone, fish, and acorns.

The Spanish.

Juan Cabrillo was the first to visit the area in 1542 but it was not until 1770 that the Spanish padre Junipero Serra came to Monterey bay and established a mission there. Between the European diseases and the Spanish treating the Indian like slaves, the Indian population was soon wiped out.
Next it was the era of Ranchos and land grants. The area became part of Mexico in 1821 then part of the United States in 1848. The United states passed the homestead act and several hardy pioneers staked out their 160 acre claims.

Industrial Times

The lumber industry made short work of the coast redwoods. Landings were set up for ships and gold mining and limestone quarrying began. The industrial boom faded and the area became wilderness again. The completion of highway 1 in1937 changed the area for good. Writers and artists began to move into the area.


Most of the area is now part of the Los Padres national forest or part of the military area known as Fort Hunter Liggett. There are no real towns. Three small areas of civilization at Big Sur, Lucia, and Gorda make up most of the population of 1000. The basin Complex fire of 2008 burned about 130,000 acres and destroyed 27 homes. The area will take a few years to get back to anything resembling what it once was.

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I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s story. Before you go please be sure and check out our list of products on the right under our blogroll. Just click on any of the links that interest you and you will travel to that products website. Everyone have a safe and productive week and we will see you next week with a new adventure.