Limantour with Michael – May 26, 2014

Hello Everyone,

Playing a little catch-up here. The photos are at the end in a Vimeo video. The music is Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1 done by Jacques Loussier. Happy Solstice! I see in the Wikipedia article on Summer solstice that “Solstice” is derived from Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

Best thoughts, Lew

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lewis and Pat Zuelow <lewiszuelow>

Subject: Limantour with Michael – May 26, 2014

Date: June 19, 2014 at 7:44:23 PM PDT

To: lewiszuelow

Limantour is a beautiful beach with a lovely French name and some tangled history. It was named for the Joseph (Jose) Yves Limantour, a naturalized Mexican citizen born in Lorient, France in 1812. Limantour engaged in the coastal sea trade from Valparaiso to California in the years before American occupation of California in 1846.
His name became attached to the Pt. Reyes coast when he wrecked, the Ayacucho, his schooner there in 1841. Filled with luxury goods he was able to save much of the cargo and make it available to local worthies but he was “stranded in California”. Since there was a lot of cargo and few local worthies, he thought beyond a simple sale to obtaining a new sea-going ship for his trade. Enter General Mariano Guadelupe Vallejo, Commander General of California and Joseph Gale who was a pioneer, entrepreneur and politician in the early settlement of the Oregon Country. Gale had sailed “The Star of Oregon” to California to trade for much needed cattle, it was actually the first ocean-going ship constructed in Oregon. General Vallejo was a highly successful rancher with ample stock who bought the ship for 350 cows and “transferred ownership to Limantour”. Presumably, Vallejo came home with the cargo. Perhaps when we visit Vallejo’s home in Sonoma, Lacryma Montis, we are seeing some of that exchange.

In his 1850’s incarnation, Limantour laid claim to vast acreage in California including half of San Francisco, the Tiburon Peninsula, an area around Cape Mendocino and many ranches which he said were awarded him by a former Mexican governor of California, Manuel Micheltorena (1841-1845). Limantour pocketed between $250,000 and $500,000 from unsuspecting land buyers until 1858 when the Federal government ruled his documents were forgeries. By this time he had escaped to Mexico never to return.
He was married to Adele Marquet and their son bearing his father’s name was Secretary of Finance of Mexico under Porfirio Diaz from 1893-1911. The son was leader of a modernizing group called the Cientificos and was a progressive politician promoting foreign investment, free trade, and balanced the budget for the first time creating a surplus in 1894. Yet, the lower classes continued to suffer with rising food costs and draught in the trickle- down area. After the collapse of the decades long Diaz government in 1911, both the younger Limantour and Diaz bid adieu to Mexico and made their exit to France. His father, our Limantour, had passed away in Mexico City in 1885.é_Yves_Limantour

Michael pointed out on the hike that another series of land deals in the 1960’s threatened the possibility of the National Seashore including the exquisite Limantour Beach. Developers had ambitious eyes for West Marin that included a four lane highway from Mill Valley to the Marin-Sonoma County Line along the path of coastal Route 1. In 1959, the Army Corps of Engineers predicted Marin County growth would increase from 161,000 in 1960 to 780,00 in 2020. It was in 1965 that Marin County approved a plan for the huge development called Marincello all over the Marin Headlands. Caltrans proposed a freeway down the center of Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa. PG & E was beginning to build a nuclear reactor on Bodega Head immediately over the San Andreas Fault.
Fortunately all these plans for suburban sprawl met a new, bold conservation movement that was not afraid to organize, protest, plan and promote public use of this unique and beautiful land. The yin and yang of Marin and Sonoma Counties was saved. Some houses were actually built at Limantour but most were torn down with the birth of Pt. Reyes National Seashore. A few back from the beach have remained for park personnel. On our hike we could see the remains of the macadam road in the dunes behind the beach and some non-native trees that had been planted at the time – artifacts of ideas come and fortunately, gone.

Here’s an impression of our Footloose Foray hike on Memorial Day 2014.

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