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Epic Footprint of the 1909 Huntington Breakwater - report

Part 4

Also see:
 |  Part 1 - Introduction
 |  Part 2 - More resources
 |  Part 3 - Piling Graveyard
 |  Part 4 - 1912 Redondo Harbor Report

1912 Redondo Harbor Report by the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers

Consider the following 1912 Redondo Harbor Examination/Report by the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers. Also, included is two 1912 local newspaper articles about the Army examination of the effort by local business interests to build a full industrial-scale harbor at the waterfront. As you read these reports, keep in mind, of course, what is being discussed is not only the devastation of the famed pebble beach, but the entire waterfront. Had the Army approved the proposal, which it did not, Redondo Beach today would look something like what Wilmington and Harbor City looks like today.

What all this is about is Henry Huntington owned practically the entire Redondo waterfront - the wharfs, the railroads, the beach businesses, the power plant, the Huntington Redondo Land Company, the Redondo Improvement Company, etc. - and he stood to make a great amount of money if the Army approved his plan to build a breakwater and harbor capable of handling some of the ship traffic that would be coming through the Panama Canal.

When you read these following reports, you will notice that a Charles H. Burnett is the point person for the "local business interests" in Redondo. Burnett was the President of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce, and, yes, an employee of Henry Huntington. The celebrated beach businesses Huntington created (BathHouse, Pavilion, Tent City, etc.) were loss leaders for his big Redondo Harbor initiative and Burnett, an hired gun from the East, was Huntington's principal evangelist. His message dominates the historical record and any local opposition to his plans to destroy the pebble beach, which likely existed, have been footprinted by the corporations and have not been found.

So, what is the connection between the 1909 Huntington Breakwater, the 1912 Redondo Harbor Report and the ravaging of the natural resources of one the world's great ocean waterfronts? Consider the following excerpt from a July 12, 1905 Los Angeles Times newspaper article reporting on Huntington's purchase of the Redondo waterfront. This is from July 1905, - "[Huntington's plan] was corroborated yesterday through an authoritative statement that the (emphasis mine:) scheme of improvements contemplated at Redondo would be of a nature calculated to make it one of the most important shipping points on the Pacific Coast."

This "shipping point" contemplated would, of course, require extensive (and always fragile) corporate/government infrastucture - an offshore breakwater. This type of offshore breakwater would have ravaged the famous pebble beach, obviously. So, the tactic Huntington used to start making this acceptable to the people earning a living from the beach is to start early and first shift the baseline of what is acceptable by putting in a small breakwater on shore to protect "amusement" "improvements" (grand BathHouse, Pavilion, etc.) built right on the beach - which, of course, nobody could object to. This is how great business people operate.

Redondo did not become an important shipping point, but the Huntington "scheme of improvements" shifting baseline cultural pattern was permanently installed and is still being maintained today at Redondo by his corporate descendants. This pattern did indeed devastate the natural resources - the pebble beach, the great sand dune, the salt lake, the fresh water aquifer, the birds, the fish, ... the famous biology of the place capable of sustaining human existence for thousands of years without extensive and fragile corporate/government infrastructure - gone. Even the memory of what was original natural resources has been footprinted.

January 2 1913 - Referred to the Committee on Rivers and Harbors and ordered to be printed with illustration.

[ Original copy at Redondo Beach Main Public Library ]


The following are images of the one drawing attached to the original copy of the 1912 Harbor Report at the Redondo Beach Main Public Library. (Note: the 1909 Huntington Breakwater is not indicated on the map because the 1912 drawing was traced from a pre-1909 coastal survey of Santa Monica Bay.)

_____ [ Transcription, Lt. Col. McKinstry's report, examination points 1 - 8 ]

[ Note: this text still needs to be cleaned up. It was computer generated. ]

Subject Preliminary examination Redondo Harbor Cal

1. This is a report on a preliminary examination of Redondo Harbor Cal called for by the river and harbor act of July 25 1912 and department letter of August 3 1912.

2. The accompanying drawing shows the hydrography of Redondo Harbor the location or the harbor with respect to other harbors in southern California near by railroad lines etc.

3. Redondo Harbor is that part of Santa Monica Bay which lies adjacent to the city of Redondo Beach It is 18 miles north of Los Angeles Harbor 186 miles south of Port San Luis and 435 miles south of San Francisco Santa Monica Bay is protected by the land from northwest to south around by the east and is open to the west and southwest Redondo Harbor being in the southeasterly end of the bay is protected from the south and somewhat from the southwest and is open to the northwest The holding ground in the bay is good and severe storms are of infrequent occurrence The commercial wharves in Santa Monica Bay are the Southern Pacific wharf about 2 miles west of Santa Monica no longer used the Standard Oil wharf just completed at El Segundo about 5 miles north of Redondo and the three wharves of the Pacific Electric Railway Co at Redondo There are half a dozen or more pleasure piers at the beach resorts The city of Redondo extends along the bay for a distance of 1 miles No part of this frontage is owned by the city and there are no municipal wharves The most northerly of the four piers within the city limits is that of the Pacific Light & Power Co It carries the condensing water intake of that company's electrical plant and is not a commercial wharf The other three belong to the Pacific Electric Railway Co Southern Pacific Co Of these the most northerly is 700 feet long and terminates in about 50 feet of water the second is 600 feet long and terminates in about 60 feet of water the third is 1,050 feet long and terminates in about 40 feet of water The maximum draft of vessels using these wharves is 23 feet.

4. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Co has a line from Los Angeles to Redondo Beach but owns no wharf at Redondo and has made no request for harbor inmprovements at that place.

5. The wharves of the Pacific Electric Railway Co are built at the head of a deep submarine valley The advantages of this site are that comparatively short piers reach deep water and the breakers break close to the beach It is stated that the average number of days per year when it is too rough for vessels to lie alongside these wharves is 26.

6. The president of the Pacific Electric Railway Co states that these wharves are open to all carriers alike under substantially the same conditions that prevail over the wharves at San Pedro that his company is under no contract with any water carriers or connecting rail lines for the interchange of traffic on a prorate basis at Redondo Beach but has an arrangement for the handling of through traffic their rates being made up on the combination of steam and water carriers rates Out of our local rate between Redondo Beach and Los Angeles the wharfage and handling charges are absorbed by the Pacific Electric Radway Co which places Redondo Beach in practically the same class as Los Angeles and other Southern California seaports The tracks of the Pacific Electric Railway Co run out on all three wharves The mechanical appliances for handling freight on these wharves are On Pier No 1 a stiff leg derrick with electric winch on Pier No 2 two such derricks and winches on Pier No 3 three such derricks and winches.

7. The Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce has furnished the the following commercial statistics for the harbor for the calendar year 1911:

Number of vessels UBing the wharves 709 Number of passengers incoming and outgoing 47 207 Freight 138,506 thousand feet lumber valued at $2,770,133 975,073 barrels oil valued at 1 218 841 27,671 short tons general merchandise valued at $320 per ton 8 854 720 Total estimated value 12 843 694 Total tonnage in short tons 453 530

8. The act directing the preliminary report does not specif the character or extent of the improvement contemplated Accor ingl an effort was made by correspondence and personal interviews wit interested parties to find out what the local community thought advisable Attention is invited to the accompan in letters On September 25 a duly advertised ublic hearing was held in the council chamber Redondo Beach at w ich all were invited to express their views There were about 150 eo 1e present among whom the following addressed the meeting Cavanah president of the board of trustees of Redondo Beach 0 N Tomlinson resident of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce H Brolas chairman of citizens committee of Redondo Beach CH Burnett mana er of outside operations for the Pacific Electric Railway 00 Mr d C Thomas traveling passenger ent for the Pacific Electric Railway Co and PH Albright consaslting civil engineer employed by the Pacific Electric Railwa Co to make certain investigations of the fore shore at Redondo Beac with a view to the construction of a pleasure ier The unanimous opinion of those who spoke at the hearin and of all those who have expressed any opinion is that a harbor s ould be provided dee enough to receive the largest ships that can use the Panama Canal and extensive enough to handle at least the volume of commerce now passing through the ort of Los Angeles It is realized that on account of the topograp y of the shore the only way to create such a harbor at or near Redondo Beach is by the construction of a long breakwater but it is also realized that a breakwater immediately in front of the existing piers that is across the submarine valley is out of the question on account of cost Of the sites just to the north and south of the ravine the one to the north seems to be considered the better What the community wants therefore is a breakwater constructed in deep water 7 or 8 fathoms west of the city of Redondo Beach Under the Shelter of this breakwater wharves would be built and the resulting harbor would resemble somewhat the present outer harbor of Los An eles Such a breakwater would lie artly in front of the city of ermosa and partly in front of Redon 0 Beach The city of Hermosa owns its water frontage but Redondo Beach as stated above does not Nothing has been heard from the cit of Hermosa on the Subject of harbor improvements At the public hearing at Redondo Beach the people present voted to the effect that the city should raise money by a bond Issue and cooperate with the United States in the improvement of the harbor N 0 steps have been taken to this end however.

_____ [ /Transcription ] _____

1912 Local newspaper articles about the Harbor Report

The Redondo Reflex, newspaper article, "To Talk On The Harbor Survey", September 20, 1912, page 1.

The Redondo Reflex, newspaper article, "McKinstry Comes Here", September 27, 1912, page 1.