Last modified: August 28, 2019

Fishing Piers Southern California

Redondo Wharf No. 1 (Santa Fe Wharf), 1888-1915 — Gone But Not Forgotten

Things were never dull at the wharf — you never knew what was next.

Five Whales Push Tug “Collis” Up To Redondo Wharf

Redondo Beach, Jan. 11.—Captain C. Swanson of the tug Collis had a thrilling experience at 10:30 o’clock Thursday night, with five large whales which swooped down upon a school of porpoise which had been playing near the shore for the past few days, striking against the tug with such force as to send the boat against the wharf. The captain who was aroused from his slumber by the jar, hurried on deck with a boat hook to try and land one of the monsters, but they had followed their prey out into the sea. The captain states that each whale measured fully eighty feet in length and that their movement in the water caused a considerable motion of the waves. For the past several days a number of whales have been sighted near the Redondo shore, providing unusual attraction for the tourists who are wintering at the beach. —Santa Ana Register, January 11, 1913

Big Yellowtail Run At Redondo Pier Yesterday

Redondo Beach, May 13.—Great excitement prevailed along the wharves today among the amateur fishermen on account of a phenomenal run of yellowtail. The school struck pier No. 1 early in the afternoon and the cry “yellowtail, yellowtail!” was echoed from one end of the wharf to the other, and the crowds would surge from one vicinity to another to watch the successful fishermen haul in his catch. So numerous were the “strikes” that it kept the spectators undecided as to which side of the pier was hauling in the most fish. The news of the run had spread very rapidly and for a while it looked as if the entire town had congregated on Wharf No.1. The sanguinary aspect of the wharf gave the appearance of the deck of a naval vessel after a battle, the large fish bleeding profusely after their throats had been cut. Frank Johns, a retired capitalist, who had recently located here permanently, was high hook for a short time, having caught five of the monsters in twenty minutes. While the run was a short one it was very fierce, the fish seeming ravenous and would strike at anything. —Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1914

Big Fish Draws Anglers

Redondo Beach, May 18.—The catching of a large number of sea bass and yellowtail along the three wharves created considerable excitement today among the anglers. One of the largest of the sea bass was caught by Charles McGehee, a grocer, who brought the fish to gaff after playing it for thirty-five minutes. The sea bass weighed forty-seven pounds and was landed by McGehee without assistance, though it fought desperately and ran out with 500 feet of line. —Los Angeles Times, May 19, 1914

As always, storms bringing wind and wave are the main danger to piers and as at most piers Wharf No. 1 would see damage and repair over the years. The storm of 1913 would be one of the largest and is seen by many as the beginning off the end of Wharf No.1.

Redondo Beach — Wharf Number One at Redondo Beach Collapses

Redondo Beach, March 11.—A severe ocean storm raged here all day. A high northwest wind blew up a choppy sea and vessels were unable to land… The wind blew at a rate of about forty-five miles an hour throughout the day and night. At 10 o’clock 100 piles from pier No. 1 went out and the floor of the wharf collapsed with a crash. The break occurred about 300 feet from the shore. A small section of the end of the pier was left standing. Two men were on the end of the pier making observations when the crash came and were marooned for some time and were in peril. They were finally brought ashore safely. Wharfmaster Walters said at midnight that the damage to the wharf would total $10,000 and would be greatly increased, of course, if the storm did not abate before daylight. The pier is the property of the Pacific Electric Company and cost $60,000. Owners of small concessions on the pier were moving their goods to the shore at midnight and at that time chances of the structure’s weathering the night seemed exceedingly remote. —Los Angeles Times, March 11, 1913

Angry Sea Plays Havoc With Pier — Old Ocean In Angry Mood Partially Destroys Pier No. 1 — Damage Estimated to be About $10,000 — Repair Crews at Work

Furious breakers lashing against the coast on Tuesday night resulted in the partial collapse of Pier No. 1 and the damage is estimated to be about $10,000 by its owner, the Pacific Electric Company. While the greater part of the inhabitants of the city by the sea were sleeping the sleep of the just, unmindful of events happening, frothing breakers, fourteen feet high rushed in anger to destroy the wharves of Redondo Beach. Nearly 200 feet of Pier No. 1, just west of the fish market, collapsed under the relentless pounding of the waves, while two fishermen were standing on the end to watch the results. The men seemed doomed as no swimmer would have braved the waves. Fortunately the two men, Christopher Dawson and Hans Peterson, were noticed in their perilous position by Walter Hicks and others and were rescued with lines. Floating piles for a time threatened Pier No. 2, but gangs of men stood guard for hours, and with the use of a donkey engine were able to bring ashore many of the piles. Men who witnessed the terrible storm say it was a weird scene, one they would not care to again live over. The inky blackness of midnight, the roar and lashing of the angry breakers and the flickering of lights here and there, was the scene that was written indelibly in the minds of the men who witnessed old ocean in her most angry mood. It is stated by those who are in a position to know that it was the worst storm in seven years. The Governor was unable to land here and ran to San Pedro. Men who have made a study of the sea stated a few days prior to the storm when people remarked about the calm sea, how it looked like a lake without even a ripple, that it was the sign of a storm. The sign proved true. But sometimes such an accident as happened to Pier No. 1 on Tuesday night may be a blessing. It has meant that the Pacific Electric company lost no time whatever in sending a wrecking crew to the spot and the company promise that the pier will be rebuilt in better condition than before as it will be entirely overhauled. It will take several weeks in all probability to complete the work so that the pier will be open to the public. The fish market was put practically out of business. So while the repairs go on optimists can believe that this is another blessing in disguise —The Redondo Reflex, March 14, 1913

Up To The People

For the past two weeks close readers of The Reflex will have noticed that the Pacific Electric railway has given notice that they have made application to the board of trustees of the city of Redondo Beach for the renewal of a franchise on wharves No. 1 and 2. This is the opportune time for the people of Redondo Beach to make it known to the city trustees whether they are in favor of granting another franchise, and if they are to see that the trustees look after the people’s interests in requiring the company to pay a sufficient sum for the right to do business upon the wharf. Work upon pier No. 1 has suspended and it is now evident that the repairs will not be made until the company has been granted the franchise. So the citizens are urged to state their position NOW or forever hold their peace. —The Redondo Reflex, April 4, 1913

However, it was soon evident that repairs would only be made if the company was granted additional time on a lease. In addition, the city began to think in terms if a new municipal wharf (like so many other cities) and that complicated the question of a long term future for the wharf.

Redondo Beach

A plan is on foot by the Business Men’s Progressive League to have the city secure the old wharf No. 1 from the Pacific Electric Company for the purpose of having a municipal pleasure pier built at that point. At a banquet and meeting of the league last night the committee appointed to see President Paul Shoup regarding the matter reported that President Shoup said he favored the plan and would take the matter up at once with official of the company. The plan of the league is to bond the city for $250,000 for a concrete pleasure pier to replace pier No. 1, if it can be secured from the Pacific Electric. Work was begun today by the Pacific Electric Company to repair the wharf, which was badly damaged a year ago by the storms. Although the work planned will amount to a considerable figure, probably $8000 or $10,000, the hole made in the wharf at that time will not be repaired, the work merely being the driving of pilings at the end top strengthen the structure for present. —Los Angeles Times, January 1, 1914

Big Yellowtail Run At Redondo Pier Yesterday

Redondo Beach, May 13.—Great excitement prevailed along the wharves today among the amateur fishermen on account of a phenomenal run of yellowtail. The school struck pier No. 1 early in the afternoon and the cry “yellowtail, yellowtail!” was echoed from one end of the wharf to the other and the crowds would surge from one vicinity to another to watch the successful fisherman haul in his catch. So numerous were the “strikes” that it kept the spectators undecided as to which side of the pier was hauling in the most fish. The news of the run had spread very rapidly and for a while it looked as if the entire town had congregated on wharf No. 1. The sanguinary aspect of the wharf gave the appearance of the deck of a naval vessel after a battle, the large fish bleeding profusely after their throats had been cut. Frank Johns, a retired capitalist, who had recently located here permanently, was high hook for a short time, having caught five of the monsters in twenty minutes. While the run was a short one it was very fierce, the fish seeming ravenous and would strike at almost anything. —Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1914

Good Fishing At Redondo Wharves

Redondo Beach. May 17.—Mackerel, halibut, surf and all the smaller fry have been running pretty strong for the past two days, and a number of phenomenal catches have been made. The larger fish also drop in occasionally; the reason for this, however, is that the small bait is plentiful. A forty-two-pound sea bass was caught from wharf No. 1 this afternoon by J. V. Henry of St. Louis, Mo. He is a retired capitalist and this was his first effort at fishing. To day that he was pleased is putting it mildly. Mr. Henry was compelled to play the monster for over thirty-five minutes, and even then had to have assistance. —Los Angeles Times, May 18, 1914

Pacific Electric May Lose Wharf

Redondo Beach, May 19.—Several verbal shots were fired last night at he meeting of the Board of Trustees. Trustee Brolaski made a motion to the effect that a resolution be passed declaring the franchise for wharf No. 1 forfeited and void. His contention was that the Pacific Electric Railway, which owns the franchise, had violated the conditions. The franchise was granted for twenty years with the promise that work would commence within four months of the date that it was given and that it would be pursued with due diligence. It is asserted that this was not done and that the wharf is unsafe. City Attorney Perry upheld the contention of Brolaski and stated that in his opinion the franchise had been forfeited. The resolution passed its first reading. Municipal Pier — The subject of bonding the city for a new municipal pier was brought up and statements were made that the owners of wharf No. 1, the Pacific Electric Railway, would ask the city a certain price for the reason that if the city took the wharf it would be a loss to them financially. Trustee Brolaski stated that the income from the wharf No. 1 is from $13,000 to $25,000 a year. —Los Angeles Times, May 20, 1914

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