Monday, April 21, 2014

Carmel - Mission Ranch

For more of my self-guided walks of Carmel
please see GPSmyCity

This is where I would have liked to have been raised if I had had a choice…I figured this would be the place…It kind of gets into your blood, this countryside and the people.  So to me it represents my family.  And it just represents a quieter life.  That is why I guess I bought the Mission Ranch to begin with, because I wanted to preserve the history here.” (Clint Eastwood)(1) 

If you happen to walk south from Ocean Avenue on Dolores all the way to the end (about nine blocks) you will be inexplicably drawn by the serene beauty, right - into the driveway of the Mission Ranch, a historic inn, restaurant and lounge. 

While stationed at Fort Ord in the 1950's, current Mission Ranch owner, Clint Eastwood would experience this same mesmerizing attraction.

If you happen upon the Mission Ranch around 4:00PM, have a seat on the patio, order your beverage of choice, enjoy the sheep who peacefully graze the open meadow land,

and the awesome view of
Carmel River Beach
Point Lobos. 

while I expound on the
fascinating history 
of Mission Ranch. 

Carmel Mission

In August of 1771, Father Junipero Serra moved the location of his mission in Monterey to a site at the mouth of the Carmel River. The acres surrounding the newly founded Carmel Mission would become a ranch used for farming, grazing and housing. 

In 1834 the Mexican government secularized the missions and divided the mission lands into land grants. Juan Romero would come to own the 160 acres surrounding Carmel Mission.

In 1852 Romero deeded the acres to William Curtis, a Monterey store owner, for $300.  The deed was signed by Romero with an "X" and his name written by someone else.  

This land encompassed the Carmel Mission, the old pear orchard which is now the Carmel Youth Baseball Field, a lean-to house directly below the mission, land up to Santa Lucia Avenue, half of the Carmel Point area and across the Carmel River to land bordering the old Odello artichoke field.

In 1856, Mr. Curtis sold the property to one of his clerks, Mr. Loveland.     

William Martin

News of gold in California, enticed 60+ year old William Martin (originally from Scotland, via Canada) to immigrate to the United States.  He brought along his wife and six children.  

"They took a boat down the Mississippi River to New Orleans; another ship across to Central America. Then across the Isthmus, and still another boat up the Pacific Coast.  They were on "Captain Josselyn's Schooner", in the month of March, 1856 when it stopped in Monterey for a half day, to unload some cargo.  The Martins went ashore, past the adobe buildings that comprised the village of Monterey, up the hill, and spread a picnic lunch under the oaks and pines.  They felt the power of the"circle of enchantment", and they liked the land.  They stayed!" (2) William Martin purchased land at the mouth of the Pajaro, and Salinas Rivers. 

John Martin

In 1859, William Martin's son John purchased the property surrounding the Carmel Mission from the Loveland's.  

Due to neglect, the Mission lay in ruins, but John found a small adobe still habitable on the property.  The structure consisted of a kitchen with cook stove and lean-to living room. This adobe was most likely the lean-to built in 1812 to house the Carmel Mission orchardist and caretaker.  

Later in 1859 John and his brother Robert purchased their father's land interest near the Pajaro and Salinas river to raise stock for dairy.

Martin Farmhouse

In 1871 while visiting Canada, John met Elizabeth Stewart, a 31 year old widow with three sons, and convinced her to marry him and come to California.  

Martin Farmhouse before second story was added

In the 1880's John and Elizabeth moved into the one story farmhouse on their property which had been built circa the 1850's. 

As the Martin family grew to nine members, a second floor was added to the farmhouse.

The picture above, taken by Marcia De Voe, shows the Martin Farmhouse in 1969.  The picture below shows the farmhouse in 2014.

Current owner of Mission Ranch, Clint Eastwood restored the Martin Farmhouse to its former glory... 

with six quaint bedrooms, a delightful common living area with fire place and...

baby grand for
sing alongs.

The Farmhouse is perfect for family reunions or wedding parties.  My niece and her groom rented the charming Martin Family Homestead for their wedding party.  

Martin Dairy

Improper recording of the Pajaro deed, caused the Martin Brothers to lose the land they were using to raise their dairy stock. To avoid this happening with the Martin Ranch John had the property recorded with the U.S. government in 1874.  

The dairy stock was moved to the Martin Ranch and shortly thereafter, the industrious Martin Brothers opened one of California's first dairies.

They built barns for milking.  The original cow barn is now the Patio Barn. 

And a creamery, now the Mission Ranch Dinning Room, to supply the county with cheese and butter. 

Walker Track

The Martin family worked this land for 60 years.  In 1918 they sold their now 216 acre ranch to Mr. and Mrs. Willis J. Walker for $150,000.  The Walker's earned their money in lumber and were prominent San Francisco socialites. 

The 216 acres were bordered on the north side by Santa Lucia, the east by Hatton Fields, and the south by Carmel River.  The Walkers subdivided the land into what was called the Walker Track, and sold many of the lots.

The Walker's who had no interest in farming, turned the ranch into a private riding and recreation club.  They built the large barn, now used as the Mission Ranch Office, for Muriel Vanderbilt Phelps to board her riding horses.

Carmelites did not take to the private recreation club idea, and Mrs. Phelps moved her horses to Carmel Valley.  

But as the saying goes, "if at first you don't succeed, try try again." In 1936 Mrs. Walker converted the ranch into an informal country club with swimming, tennis and badminton

The old ranch house became the clubhouse.  And with the addition of a stage and dance floor, the old milking barn became a swingin' dance hall. 

In 1937 Allen Knight (Carmel mayor from 1950 - 1952) and his orchestra were the first to open on the new stage at what was then called, the Valley Ranch Club and Dance Hall.  

Today this is the Patio Barn, with stage, dance floor and rustic full cocktail service bar.

The historical milking barn has been fully restored and makes a lovely venue for wedding receptions, cocktail parties or corporate events.

A wall of glass doors on the south side opens to a brick patio with views of the meadow.

See You At The Ranch 

In 1940 Margaret and Bert Dienelt bought the ranch from the Walker's estate for $40,000.  The track of land now only 100 acres was in a state of disrepair. 

The Dienelt's decided to keep the property as a club.  After some refurbishments they were ready to open to the public.   

"It was great - even we teenagers could afford the dues of $1 a year.  The big barn was turned into badminton courts, the small barn was used for roller skating, there was also an archery court, and the swimming pool was a real gift to us kids." (3)   

The Dienelt's sold about 20,000 $1 memberships and operated the property for about 40 years.  Charles "Skip" Heebner, Mrs. Dienelt's son managed the cottage ranch and dinner-house until 1976.

 "For years it was a place of enjoyable memories for many, with a homey restaurant and piano bar, with nights of dancing in the bar - the place Carmelites and Valleyites meant when they said, "See you at the Ranch."  (4)   

War Years 

During World War II and the Korean War, the big barn was used as an Officer's Club for the Army and Navy.  With its bar, stage and dance floor, it proved quite a popular night spot for off duty service men and women.

In 1950, off duty from Fort Ord, twenty-one year old Clint Eastwood made his way to the Mission Ranch and it was love at first sight.

"The first time I saw the place I thought it was terrific," he says. "Visually it was something else, and I thought it was the place I'd like to call home.  So I kind of adopted Carmel."(5) 

100 Acres to 20 Acres

Around 1980 the State of California acquired by eminent domain, the land and lagoon rights to the beach. Carmel School District purchased the property to the west of Mission Ranch where River School resides. The Dienelt's sold four acres south of the mission for the Carmel Youth Baseball Field, and gave the Carmel Mission four acres.

The Dienelt Family sold the remaining 20 acres to the Mission Ranch Corporation, a group of professionals, most living in the San Francisco Bay Area, for $3 million.   

Mission Ranch Corporation
The City Of Carmel 

Early in 1984 Mission Ranch Corporation won a decision to rezone the Mission Ranch property for the building of a 61 plus unit residential development on 8.24 of the 20 acres.

In the spring of that year, the city of Carmel filed a lawsuit to block development of the wetlands and entered into talks with Mission Ranch Corporation to purchase the property.

City Manager Douglas Schmitz said Mission Ranch Corporation originally asked for $8 million but lowered the price to $6.5.  

In October of 1984, Monterey Superior Court Judge Maurice Jourdane ruled in favor of the city and overturned the rezoning decision for Mission Ranch.  The Mission Ranch Corporation immediately filed an appeal.  

On May 13, 1985, the Carmel City Council secretly offered to buy Mission Ranch for $3.75 million.  Mission Ranch Corporation president Doug Tuck counted with $5 million. 

A number of private and public entities felt that the purchase of Mission Ranch would be a good acquisition for the city of Carmel.  

The city could keep the tennis courts and some property for recreational use.  The Coastal Conservancy would buy the wetlands area so the environmentally sensitive habitat remained open space.The Frohman Academy, a musical theater education organization, would use the facilities for rehearsals, and shows.  And the Carmel Heritage Society was interested in using some of the space for a museum.

Even after petitioning concerned citizens to contribute to the fund to purchase Mission Ranch, the price of $5 to $6.5 million was just too much for the city to come up with.    

Carmel Heritage Society
 Save The Ranch

"About 1983 rumor had it that the property was going to be sold and condominiums would be built there.  All that history gone!  This is a project for Carmel Heritage - Save the Mission Ranch. 

Helen Wilson and Marjorie Lloyd, who were on the Carmel Heritage Board at the time, invited Clint Eastwood to attend a meeting regarding the Mission Ranch.  He was asked if perhaps he could get some of his friends together to form a group that would purchase the Mission Ranch so that it could be preserved.  

At the next meeting Clint reported that he was not able to get anyone to invest - a big groan went up - and then Clint said, "But I will buy the Ranch and it will be preserved." What a cheer then went up.  And Clint did, he made improvements..."(6) 

Mayor Clint Eastwood

In December 1986, Mayor Clint Eastwood purchased Mission Ranch under the umbrella of one of his production companies, Tehama Productions, Inc. Eastwood vowed to keep the buildings and grounds as they were, except for the upgrading of plumbing and electrical and the eviction of the termite population. Which, according to Eastwood, were keeping some "buildings standing by holding hands." 

"I think the majority of people in Carmel would like it (Mission Ranch) to remain the same," said Eastwood.  "Hopefully it can be a place where people can come back in 20 years and it will still be here." (7)  

"Doug Tuck called Eastwood's offer an 'altruistic' one. "We had never dealt with anyone who was more of a gentleman, more sincere, more easier to get along with than the mayor," Tuck said." (8)

"Locked In Time" 

Clint Eastwood and Carmel Development Co., virtually rebuilt the white clapboard dairy ranch, reserving the flavor and facades dating back to the 1850's, keeping the historic ranch, "locked in time."

The renovation, which began in 1989, took three and one-half years to complete.  The Martin farmhouse, the Dance Barn, bunkhouse and restaurant were restored.  

Those that were too dilapidated to be saved such as the cottages behind the bunkhouse were replaced with new housing units that look like the original structures. 

In 1992, Alan Williams and Michael Waxer of Carmel Development Co., won an award for excellence in architecture from the American Institute of Architects Monterey Chapter, for their work on the renovation and restoration of Mission Ranch.  

On September 20, 1992, the Carmel Heritage Society presented Clint Eastwood with the Historic Preservation Award for saving the Mission Ranch, and preserving it for future generations to enjoy. 

And that is the history of Mission Ranch.

See you at the Ranch!!  

All Photos by L. A. Momboisse unless except those noted below:
- Black and White photo of land around Carmel Mission c. 1877. (Morgado, Martin. "Junipero Serra's Legacy." Mount Carmel, Pacific Grove, 1987, pg 115.
- Black and White photo of Martin farmhouse with Elizabeth Martin (sitting). (De Voe, Marcia. "The Martins and The Hattons." Carmel-by-the-Sea, 1979, pg 14)
- Black and White photo of Martin farmhouse taken in 1969 by Marcia De Voe. (Courtesy of Harrison Memorial History Library)
- Black and White photo Mission Ranch Cottages behind the bunkhouse in 1986. (Pine Cone, December 11, 1986.  Photo Holly McFarland.)

(1) Ed Broyhill. "Ed Boyhill and Clint Eastwood Team Up: Mission Ranch Collection." Online Video Clip. You Tube. You Tube October 5, 2009, April 11, 2014.
(2) De Voe, Marcia.  "The Martins and The Hattons." Carmel-by-the-Sea, 1979, pg 9.
(3) Prine, Kay. "Mission Ranch." (Memories of Kay Prine on a plaque on the wall in the office of Mission Ranch)
(4) Hale, Sharon Lee.  "A Tribute to Yesterday." Valley Publishers, 1980, pg 120)
(5) Cheever, Susan. "Architectural Digest Visits: Clint Eastwood." Architectural Digest July 1993: 84 - 91. Print.
Prine, Kay. "Mission Ranch." (Memories of Kay Prine on a plaque on the wall in the office of Mission Ranch)
(7)Leland, David. "Eastwood Intends to Preserve the property as it is now." Pine Cone, December 11, 1986.

Other Resources
Wilson, Helen. "The Mission Ranch - A Brief History." The Herald Weekend Magazine, April 20, 1986.
Barron, Betty. "The Mission Ranch Story." The Big Sur Gazette, July 1980.
Gardner, Michael. "City of Carmel made $3.75 Million Secret Offer to buy Mission Ranch." Carmel Pine Cone, November 28, 1985.
Gardner, Michael. "City's Mission Ranch Offer: Folly or Genius?. Carmel Pine Cone, November 1985.
Gardner, Michael. "Want to Develop Property Say Mission Ranch Owners." Carmel Pine Cone, January 16, 1986.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Point Sur Lightstation Walking Tour Part II

For an interactive map from GPSmyCity for this blog post please visit this site 


In 1939, the United States Coast Guard became responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all lighthouses including Point Sur.  When the station was automated in 1972, the lighthouse keepers were no longer needed and left the station.

In 1984, the Coast Guard turned over all but the lighthouse, oil house, and mess hall, to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1987, volunteers began giving tours of Point Sur and in 1993 the non-profit Central Coast Lighthouse Keepers (CCLK) was formed to assist the state in restoring Point Sur Lightstation.

CCLK has no paid employees, yet it is due in part to their work with the State Parks that complete restoration of the carpenter/blacksmith shop (1999), the barn (2000), water tower (2001) and head keepers quarters (2012) has been accomplished. Because of the work of CCLK and all the volunteers we are able to tour this incredible location today!!!! 

After a one hour hike, on a magnificent January day,
 we arrive at the Point Sur lighthouse.

Our tour began in
the Fog Signal Room.

Originally this room housed the two boilers used to generate the steam for two fog whistles. Now the room is filled with informational placards and vintage equipment.

In order to help mariners determine their location as they travel the coasts of the United States each lighthouse is built with a unique look. When inclement weather or fog makes visual identification impossible, each lighthouse is also equipped with a unique fog whistle sound pattern and light flash pattern.


In the early days of Point Sur lightstation when the fog whistle was necessary, it would take 45 minutes to generate enough steam from the boilers to fuel the steam for the whistle.  The lightstation would go through a lot of wood, notice the wood pile in the picture below taken in 1907.

In the 1930's the steam whistle was replaced with the Diaphone air horn which produced a two tone "bee-oh" sound. The picture below shows the Diaphone horn used at Point Sur from 1935 to 1960. 

The boilers in the fog signal room were replaced with large machines that produced the compressed air for the Diaphones.  The picture below shows this machinery inside the fog signal room in 1939.  

In the 70's the Super Tyfon (a horn named after a mythological Greek Giant who apparently howled loudly) was installed.  It consisted of two compressed air horns that sounded simultaneously and could be heard up to 3 nautical miles away.  


For 83 years, from 1889 to 1972, the Point Sur lighthouse was lit by a First Order Fresnel Lens.  Today the original lens, which stands 18 feet high, weights 9,570 pounds and contains 586 glass prisms can be seen at the Museum of Monterey.

The Fresnel lens was a complex system of glass prisms that bent light and magnified it. Before the invention of the Fresnel, the brightest lighthouse beam could be seen only 8 to 12 miles away. The light from the Fresnel was visible to ships over 23 miles away.

At night the lens would rotate around five wicks lit by kerosene.  As the center "bulls eye" of the lens passed in front of the wicks, the light would get very bright.  As it rotated away from the wicks, the light would dim. 

The 9,570 pound lens was rotated by a weight mechanism similar to that of a grandfather clock. 450 pound weights were suspending down a center shaft (shaft shown in the picture below) to the base of the staircase. A light-keeper would crank these weights every four hours at night to keep the light working.  

Another innovation made possible by the Fresnel lens was the ability to produce individual light patterns.  This gave each lighthouse its own unique light signal.  Point Sur's light signal is a flash every 15 seconds.  

In 1972 the Fresnel was replaced with the electric incandescent lamp shown in the picture above. In 1975 the incandescent lamp was replaced with the Aero-Beacon which is still in use today.  Although the equipment at Point Sur is now automated, the lighthouse still performs its historic function - guiding mariners along the Big Sur Coast. 

John now invites us to climb
 the spiral staircase to the lantern room.  

In 2001, with the help of grants and of course our tour fees (which are quite nominal with what we get in return), the lantern room was completely restored by the International Chimney Corporation.  Those who are able to make the climb are rewarded...  

...with a never ending vista,
spouts of the migrating Gray whale,
and sea lions frolicking in the kelp.

From the top of the lighthouse we view the steep set of stairs we will take to reach the lighthouse keepers living quarters. These stairs were built in 1945, prior to that the lighthouse keepers reached their living quarters by a dirt trail.   

Stairs now lead to the living quarters on the lightstation. 

The carpenter/blacksmith shop,  

originally built in 1907, was restored in 1999

 to look as it would have in 1929.

Next door is the barn which is now used as a classroom for school children on field trips. Restored in 2000, it's actual building date is unknown.

The picture below shows the barn in the 1950's when this building was used as a recreation center. The carpenter/blacksmith shop is to the right.  

The picture below shows the two buildings today. 

The water tower (shown in the picture below) was built in 1907 to store water high enough to provide water pressure for the new flush toilets installed on the 3rd floor of the assistant keepers' quarters.

The redwood supports on the original water tower were milled in Big Sur.  When the water tower was restored in 2001, redwood supports large enough to support the replica tower were not available locally, so the restored supports were milled out of Northern California. 


Lighthouse keepers and their families lived in the two building shown below.  The one to the right is the head keepers and the one to the left the assistant keepers.  Though living quarters had indoor plumbing by 1907, they did not have electricity until 1949.  

The picture below shows head keeper John Astrom (center) and his wife, Alice in 1916. There were a number of children living at the Point Sur, most under school age. 

Only one family lived in the head keepers quarters...

 which was renovated in 2012.

Inside the rooms have been renovated to depict what life would have been like on Point Sur in the 1950's.  Using photos from the 1950's of the kitchen...

the renovation looks pretty authentic down to the coffee pot. Being Baby Boomers, my husband and I enjoyed touring this renovation....

finding something in every room that reminded us of our childhood.  The phonograph...

Erector Set!...

and yes, parents did smoke in the bathroom.

Next door to the head keepers quarters is the assistance keepers quarters, three apartments, one on each floor.  

Currently money is being raised to renovate this building, with the idea of making each floor depict a different era.  

Our last stop is the Point Sur Visitors Center, where one may view more informational exhibits and a very informative video on the U.S.S. Macon.  

By the end of our four hour tour my pedometer had clocked 2.25 miles.  Our decent was easier and faster than our accent...the view, still spectacular!  

The tour of Point Sur Lightstation is another hidden treasure in Monterey County. Well worth the price of admission!!!  Special tours and events are held throughout the year, check their web page for tour details. 

One of the best resources on Point Sur is the book Images of America Point Sur by Carol O'Neil, wife of our fearless tour guide John O'Neil.  It is available on Amazon.

  And now a video recap.


Thanks for visiting.  Happy Adventures!

For an interactive map and guided walking tour covering this and many of our other  tours please be sure to download the GPSmyCity App from the iTunes store.  The  App covers an extensive library of articles and walking tours from over 470 cities worldwide, and now features articles from  Adventures of a Home Town Tourist covering Carmel and Monterey (with more cities on the way).  Click the City Walks logo below to get your free App today. 

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All photos and video by L. A. Momboisse except listed below:
- Black and white photo United States Coast Guard  

- Black and white photo from 1907 showing the wood used to power the steam engines for the fog whistle. (Images of America Point Sur, Carol O'Neil, Arcadia Publishing, 2003, p63, photograph courtesy U.S. Lighthouse Society)
- Black and white photo from 1939 showing the machinery that produced the compressed air for the diaphones. (ibid. p 71)
- Black and white photo from the 1950's of the barn and blacksmith/carpenter shop. (ibid. p 101)
- Black and white photo of head keeper John Astrom and family from 1916. (ibid. p 111)

- Black and white photo head keeper quarter World War II era (ibid. p 97)