Grant and I had the pleasure of driving down the coast recently with Bill Post, of the Post Ranch Inn. I venture to say that nobody knows Big Sur history better than 87-year old Bill Post. Here are some interesting tidbits we gleaned from our adventure.
When Bill was a kid, he used to drive cattle from his family ranch, now the site of the Post Ranch Inn, up the coast to Monterey where they were loaded up on the train. One of the more difficult areas of the cattle drive was the Mal Paso Creek. Spanish for “Bad Pass” Creek, Bill and his cattle had to walk down to the beach, wait for low tide, and then drive the cattle through the ocean surf to reach the other side.
Garrapata Creek was another difficult area in the cattle drive until a bridge was finally built, but not where the current Hwy 1 bridge is located. The old bridge is much closer to the beach. If you look down the canyon to the west you can still make out the old bridge footings on either side of the canyon.
Bill used to hunt for ‘coons as a kid. He was paid sometimes up to $2.50 per skin. Bill and his friend Walt Trotter would wade knee deep in the surf hunting by moonlight for the racoons feeding on the fish in the ocean. One particular night, Bill’s terrier came along on the hunt and was attacked by a particularly aggressive racoon. Bill quickly came to his dog’s aid and kicked the raccoon in the head…at the exact same time that Walt fired a bullet at the racoon. Well, the bullet shot clean through Bill’s foot. Walt helped Bill hobble his way to the doctor’s station at what is now Andrew Molera state park. They woke up the resident doctor (who happened to be an Army field doctor in WWI). The doctor used his trusty iodine, that’s about all doctors had to work with back in the day, and poked his cotton swab clear through the bullet hole a couple times. Bill says if he hadn’t been held down by Walt and his father he very well might have killed that doctor on the spot.
The Post Ranch used to encompass Ventana and the Coastlands. To avoid foreclosure of the ranch, Bill’s grandfather sold his part of the ranch now known as the Coastlands to a man by the name of Mr. Fields in 1926.
Bill and Sam used to hike on the beach from Pfeiffer Beach all the way to Hurricane Point. They tried many times to venture beyond Hurricane Point but the waves on the rocks made it impossible.
There aren’t many men in the world of Big Sur like Bill Post. Grant and I will remember this experience for a long time.