Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Photo A Day For 6 Months: Day 79~ RRC: That's Odd

"There are two sorts of curiosity... the momentary and the permanent. The momentary is concerned with the odd appearance on the surface of things. The permanent is attracted by the amazing and consecutive that flows on beneath the surface of things."

-~Robert Lynd

RRC: That's Odd

One of my favorite things to do is travel along the Pacific coastline here in the Bay Area and take all the gorgeous scenery in. There is a particular spot, on the San Mateo County coastline, that I enjoy and am awestruck by, no matter how often I see it. It's Devil's Slide just south of Pacifica, California. The short stretch of highway has been featured in film, but it also holds an interesting spot in history. As you come down the steep highway slope, you can't help but be awestruck by the natural beauty, but you might also be caught a bit off guard by just how narrow and steep the slope is. If you are going south on HWY1, you have the ocean on the right and almost no shoulder at all. It's gorgeous, but scary at the same time.


Now, here is where it all get's really interesting, and ODD. As you turn the corner you see above, you come around the side of the cliff and off to the right, on a wider cliff over the ocean, you will see a really ODD shaped dwelling, or is it a garage of some sort?  Maybe it's the worlds largest birdhouse? It could be a storage shack maybe. Ohh... I know, I bet it is a dream home of a wealthy eccentric, that found out they didn't fancy living precariously on not just any cliff, but Devil's Slide cliff. Could that be it? Ummm... well... no. That ODD little building is actually something much less spooky. In a weird way, that building might be described as a kind of lighthouse. Well, that's how I think of it anyway.

According to Wikipedia, it's called a Base End Station. These little dwellings were used in World War II by the U.S. Coast Guard Artillery as part of the fire control systems for locating the positions of attacking ships and controlling the firing of seacoast guns, mortars, or mines to defend against them. Wow! It is sometimes easy to forget that during that era, the enemy could pretty much walk, or swim, up to America and give us the WHAT FOR. I don't remember hearing anything about this kind of thing in history class, and I don't remember my parents mentioning it either. But can you imagine what it must have felt like to see it being built for the sole purpose of coastal defense?


Suddenly the natural beauty of the ocean, and the sandy beaches and the amazing wildflowers of the California Pacific coastline, has this strange, ominous, watchtower of sorts, heavily armed, and ready to fire on ships and submarines that might come to do us harm. I can definitely see the need for it, and I can see how it must have been a relief to know it was there looking out for us, but at the same time I think I would have felt really sad that it had ever been necessary at all. I think the people who lived in that area, during the 1940's probably felt the same way we do now, when he are faced with some of the choices that needed to be made in post 9/11 America.

The earliest of these Base End stations were built in the late 1800's and were used until about 1946, and then were closed, later to be sold off to private land owners. There is perhaps as many as 100 of this type of structures surviving across America, the ones inland used primarily for early detection of fires, but there could have been a number of different Base End operations sectioned off per floor. I am not sure when this Base End station was built on Devil's Slide, there isn't a lot of information about it, but it's seems it was sold to a private owner in 1983. It's possible that the state of California owns it now, as there is currently a bridge and tunnel is being built to replace the Devil's Slide section of roadway due to erosion and frequent landslides during the winter months.


I will miss driving on Devil's Slide after the new bridge and tunnel through the mountains opens. I love that drive, especially on sunny summer and autumn afternoons. The water below can look like crystal. It shines and seems to be so calm you could walk on it. And the natural beauty of the wildflowers and the occasional awesome bird, can make for a relaxing, peaceful drive. I understand the need for the bridge through the hills, it will be safer and more reliable, but as you know I am hopelessly in love with the Bay Area, and I hate for anything to change. Especially if there is a change that there might be a negative environmental impact. And believe me, there was some debate about that, but after many years of impact studies, the bridge project was a go.

The bypass is scheduled to be finished this fall, and after that time the only access to the Devil's Slide area will be by trail for hiking and for bike access. I will be looking forward to taking that on in the summer of 2012, and perhaps at that time I will finally be able to see the Base End station up close. And you know, I will have my camera in hand!


If you can, feel free to join in with this week's Round Robin Challenges, I know Karen would be thrilled to have you play along. Just click the link at the top of this post, to be redirected back to the official Round Robin blog. You can also find a list, and the links to, the other participants in this challenge!

~Me :)


fredamans said...

That is really cool and I love the history behind it!

Jama said...

The view around there is awesome!

Karen Funk Blocher said...

That is definitely one of the oddest-shaped buildings I've ever seen. But what really impresses me here is the beauty you've captured all around it!