Monday, October 9, 2017

San Luis Bay Chumash Habitation Site - California Central Coast

We really enjoy finding these ancient sites. Sometimes though, there is an equal amount of disappointment involved. This is one of those places. I had seen an old photo of it (without the pier), but that was all. We had no references, or other clues as to where it was. I have a pretty good idea where many of these sites can be found, but it is still a lot of work.

We basically followed the Pacific Coast Trail along the bluffs for a few miles on foot, and several more by car. We never did find it the first day, but we figured it out that night, and pretty much drove right to it the next morning. 


This is where we went. It all started with a very pleasant view.  Better than that actually, because there was so much more to see than we expected.


This site could easily be thousands of years old. I stopped counting mortars at 75. There were also depressions that I believed to be the remains of many others. Also, no telling how many are under that concrete on the left.




 Cupules

 A look across San Luis bay.

A view from across the bay, back to the mortar site.  Imagine this scene a thousand years ago. Nothing made by modern man would be seen. It would be hundreds of years, before any white person even laid eyes on the area. Now imagine a Chumash village in the area of those buildings above the far pier. There were probably some of village women grinding food in the mortars below it. The village had everything they needed, with no danger of using up all the resources in the area. It was perfect! Right up until the Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans did all they could to wipe them from the face of the earth. Their crime? They were here first...


In one form or another a pier has stood on this spot for well over a hundred years. Every single version contributed to the demise of this important historic cultural area. 


In some cases, they actually reshaped mortars to use as post holes. It amazes me that people would do this without giving so much as a second thought about what they were destroying. (see the square shape inside the round mortar).

 While I'm knee deep in mortars, my wife (who is much more observant than I am), finds some other treasures.

 Seals!







Also, some Cormorants.
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This mortar site is just a few feet away from, and below the road. Based on the geography, I'm positive that the related village was very close by. Unfortunately, I'm sure everything was destroyed by construction of the road, and grading of the slope and shelf above it. 



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55 comments:

  1. ...thanks for sharing wildlife that I would never see in my neck of the woods.

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  2. Shame they can't section that one area off and preserve it.

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    1. Hi Alex! I agree, but at this point, I'm pretty sure they've written it off.

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  3. What a beautiful find and a seriously sad commentary on the history of the land here. Love what you found, and also those harbor seals.

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    1. Thanks Robin! It is indeed a sad commentary. Other than the pier and road, it really was a beautiful spot.

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  4. That really is a pretty place and the water looks magical!

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  5. That is one long pier and its a shame they have to destroy sites to build it (such a pier would never last on the Atlantic side of our country-storms would see to it that it was cut down to size)

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    1. I think you are right on both counts Jeff. In one of it's previous lives, this pier was used to support a pipeline that loaded oil tankers. That is why it is so long.

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  6. Yes, the Miwoks too suffered from germs and the Mission System, then successive governments here in California..... But today they do have Graton Ranchera and other sites where where their descendants may carry on. Thanks!

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    1. You are right Cloudia. Everybody had a hand in it. Really a sad story.

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  7. I am amazed by the length of that pier, it seems endless ;)
    Lovely captures of the seals, there are so many of them on the rock.

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    1. Thanks Marleen! A few miles up the coast from this spot, there are hundreds of elephant seals.

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  8. Pier is so long and beautiful. I would love to walk on it. That is a wonderful place to spend a few days among the seals and Cormorants.
    Pat, these are fantastic pictures and so inviting. And of course, you searched for mortars...

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    1. Thanks Kaya! It really is a gorgeous area. Hope you get to see it someday.

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  9. Beautiful photos Pat, it is a shame that parts of our past are being scraped away like this, excellent find.

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    1. Thanks Jimmy! I agree, it's a total shame. I wonder how they are teaching that part of our history in school these days.

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  10. I expect they have written it off at this point.

    The seals are a delight.

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    1. That's what I'm thinking William! Too bad. It wouldn't cost much to surround it with a chain link fence.

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  11. Seals! Seals! Seals! I'm here for the seals!

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  12. Always finding interesting stuff in the most unexpected places. Me though? I'm here for the seals. Seals are awesome. I sit here with my coffee some days by the ocean and watch our seals do their thing. So thanks for the seals, bringer of seals. :)

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    1. Hey VEG! That's because I'm always looking! The seals were a definite bonus though. There is another beach near here called Piedras Blancas where you can sit there with your coffee, and really watch the seals "do their thing." wink wink. Oh yeah, they are Elephant Seals...

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  13. One of the firsts in a long line of shameful events... it boggles the mind. I can't believe the State (nowadays, not back then) couldn't at least even put up a marker of some kind, some kind of acknowledgement/apology.

    At least the view and the lovely seals are happy things to see.

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    1. You are right Sally! Going all the way to back trying to kill all of them. One of their strategies for preservation, is to pretend like things don't exist. Another is to bulldoze dirt over them. For instance... There is a major village site very close to my house. They preserved it by covering it with dirt, and putting a football field, and sports part over it.

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    2. Oops! Sorry about the misspell of your name...

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  14. I know this question is a bit out of kilter with the thrust of your blog - but it is a genuine question. . . . Given that you find mortar depressions in many places, does it matter that some are spoilt, re-used or covered over?

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  15. 'We are only human.'
    The destructive nature goes through all humanity I believe. Greed. Ignorance. I'm sure it was with them too.
    And so it will go on...

    Great shots though. And appreciate your passion for history. A shame 'progress' doesn't care a fraction as much.

    That's a really long pier too.

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  16. I do find them in many places, but overall, they are extremely rare. In fact, most people have never seen any of them. Most of them have been destroyed by development and/or from natural causes. I'm surprised there is anything left of this site. Because there was a village here, there were graves, artifacts, etc. Also, the Chumash tribe still exists here. To them, sites like this are sacred. As I said earlier, these mortars area easily several thousands of years old, and they could be older than 10,000 years. It was only several hundreds of years ago, that the FIRST non-Indian person saw this part of the world for the very first time. Compared to how long the Chumash culture has been here, the Europeans are still newcomers...

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  17. Wonderful photos Pat. I love seeing the seals, that pier is so long and endless. Unfortunately progress had no regard for what came before. If it's in the way, they take it, tear it down, build over it, whatever they need to move forward. Sad for sure but the story always need to be told and you help by posting posts like these. We never know who comes by and reads these blogs but it is better to have it than to not. Change comes in mysterious ways.

    Have a wonderful day and keep on exploring and snapping.

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    1. I love your sentiment Bill. I am not at all a fan of development. Especially not when our history has to be bulldozed to do it. Thanks Bill! You keep doing those things also...

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  18. How beautiful and sad all at the same time. I wish people had more respect for what came before them, and more of a desire to preserve it as much as possible, even if that means just leaving it alone.
    Those seals look like they have it made!

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    1. I totally agree! It seems like most people really don't give a hoot about preservation. Oh yeah, other than the occasional killer whale, these seals look like they are living the life of Riley...

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    2. In addition...
      Thanks so much for devoting all the time it took to read all these blog posts, and also leave comments. I REALLY do appreciate it!

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  19. I know exactly what you mean about invasion Pat, it was exactly like that for the Aborigines here in Australia when the English, Dutch and whoever invaded! Love the seal pics, gosh they sure look well fed 😀

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    1. It seems the "first people" everywhere in the world, have had to pay a heavy price for being "first." So sad, and so terrible. Speaking of the "well fed" seals, a few miles up the coast are beaches full of elephant seals. Those things are humongous.

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  20. You have a way of making history come alive, Patrick - that's a gift. Hope at some point you decide to write a book about your adventures in out of the way and historic places (I would buy it, even though it makes me sad to know what once has been, and all that is done is to cover it up). Many thanks for sharing this with All Seasons - really appreciate this post!

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    1. Thanks so much Jeannette! I have thought about it a lot. In fact, I have parts of a few books already done. The truth is, I am too A.D.D. to push forward with any of them. Participating in All Seasons is my pleasure...

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  21. well, good and bad, that´s life I guess. Hard to keep ancient places today. :(

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    1. Mostly bad to me. The oil that was piped over this pier almost destroyed the whole town because of a major underground leak.

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  22. It's a beautiful place. I'd never have recognized the history unless somebody pointed it out.

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    1. It is a beautiful place Al. That's what I'm here for Al. Everybody is looking at all the sights, and I'm looking for all the sites.

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  23. So glad you finally found what you were looking for! It's sad that people have no consideration for nature but the seals are too cute to ignore.

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    1. Thanks Betty! It wasn't easy, but we did it. I totally agree with your sentiments about some people. Love those seals!

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  24. The views are fabulous. The mortors remind me of a beach in Florida, there is something similar they called Coquina Rocks. They located in the Washington Oaks SP beach side in St Augustine Florida. I love the seals and the cormorants. Awesome photos. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

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    1. It is a fabulous part of the world. I know about Coquina. I believe it's sedimentary limestone. I've never seen mortars in it, but then again, I've only seen Coquina rock in books. Thanks so much Eileen! You too...

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  25. I'm assuming that the development and construction folks didn't recognize the huge cultural importance and value of this area prior to wiping it out, which is really sad. Using an ancient mortar site for a post-hole... mind boggling!!!

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    1. Well Pete, either they didn't realize the importance of the area, or they did, and didn't really care about it. Either way sucks! It blew my mind when I saw that...

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  26. The mortar site is interesting, Pat, and a shame it has not been better preserved and documented. At least the seals looked happy and well fed. I enjoyed traveling the entire California coast a few years ago along Highway 1. Beautiful views!

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    1. Thanks Pat! It is a shame. A lot of folks just con't care. Back in the day, some people would have destroyed it simply because it was an Indian site.
      I've done that drive before also. Even hitchhiked it!

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  27. 'We never did find it the first day, but we figured it out that night, and pretty much drove right to it the next morning. "

    Pat, I admire your perserverence in finding this spot - bravo to you and your wife!

    Beautiful area! That pier looks sooooooooooo long - WOW!

    Love the photograph of the seals enjoying the warm sun. Seals have the most sweetest-looking faces. When I lived in NYC, my apartment was directly across the street from the Central Park Children's Zoo. I used to love spending time sitting on a park bench, watching the seals frolicking and swimming in the water.

    Thanks for sharing, buddy. Enjoyed!

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    1. Thanks so much Ron! I probably should give more of the credit to my wife. They built it that long so the could run an oil pipe on it, out to deeper water.
      I've spent quite a bit of time watching seals myself. They are very entertaining.

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  28. Lovely shots. I really like the seal photos.

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