Redondo Wharf No. 1 (Santa Fe Wharf) — 1888-1915

 An Angler’s History of Redondo Wharf No. 1

The story of Redondo and its early wharves is one that is far more complex than that seen at the typical California seaside towns that sprang up in the late 1800s. The plan by the Redondo Beach Company may initially have centered on real estate and the sale of land to newcomers from “back east” but it soon evolved into a many-layered affair.

In part, geography influenced its history. Due to its deep, submarine canyon, Redondo was quickly proclaimed a prime spot for a seaport and became in the eyes of many, the logical port for Los Angeles. But the money to be made from real estate and shipping would be supplemented by money from tourists who, it was hoped, would flock to the town as more and more attractions were added (the Redondo Hotel, Bath House, Pavilion, etc.).

In part, capitalism and changing technology played a large part. Railroads supplemented the cart and buggy on land while steamships provided fairly reliable transportation on the sea.  The story of Redondo’s railroads, the two railway lines that would run to Redondo in 1888, and then the competition between the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific for supremacy in the early1900s (when the Long Wharf at Santa Monica was built) provided more drama to the story.

The war between the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific would eventually metastasize into a bitter, hydra-headed affair that included the backers of Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and San Pedro, the railroads, and the state and the federal government. When the federal government finally decided to build a breakwater that would provide protection for the wharves at San Pedro, it signaled the end to the hopes of Santa Monica and Redondo to be THE port for Los Angeles.

In time, the people of Redondo Beach would give up on the idea of Redondo as a port. Later, they would see their role as a tourist destination begin to decline. Eventually, the citizens began to recognize their future was as a pleasant, oceanfront town, one that would always offer amusement and pleasure to visitors but also one that centered on the needs of its own citizens.

But, to some degree, it all started with a wharf, the wharf that eventually would become known   as Wharf No. 1. Initially, before additional wharves were built, it was simply the Redondo Wharf or, for some, the Santa Fe Wharf. The wharf would provide the opportunity for Redondo to be a port and provide an end point (or beginning point) for passengers and freight headed to and from Los Angeles.

Although the exact ground breaking date is unknown, construction of Wharf No. 1 at the foot of Emerald Street (approximately where today’s municipal pier is located) had begun by the spring of 1888. Nor is the exact date of completion known although by early December 1888 most of the work was finished. It also isn’t clear if the wharf that emerged late that year was the wharf mentioned in newspaper stories—a  “temporary wharf” to precede an “iron wharf.”  What is clear is that the wharf became one of the most important wharves on the coast and, in due time, would do battle with San Pedro and the Long Wharf at Santa Monica for designation as the “Port of Los Angeles.”


It is also clear that Wharf No. 1 became one of the two greatest “fishing piers” on the coast. It, together with the McFadden Wharf (at Newport Beach), would see more big fish caught than any other piers in California. And while quality was shared with Newport, the sheer quantity of fish taken from Redondo’s Wharf No. 1 was probably never matched,

Literally thousands of anglers fished from Wharf No. 1 from the year it was built. The same would be true at Wharf No. 2, Wharf No. 3, and the Redondo Beach Municipal Pier. In most cases the anglers began to fish a wharf when it was still only partly finished. Such was the enthusiasm engendered by the quality of fishing at Redondo.

Unfortunately, the numbers of fish caught by those thousands of recreational anglers, when combined with the number of fish caught by commercial anglers (by rod and net) almost assured an eventual decrease in the numbers of fish.

From its start in the late 1880s until the first decades of the 1900s fishing generally remained good at Redondo; at times it was sensational. But, the number of exceptionally good days, and the number of big fish, i.e., giant sea bass and yellowtail, decreased. The signs that fishing was “not the same as earlier” were there for the people who had fished the piers for years but the causes of the decrease were complex and often ignored.

Some have said this was an age of “ecological innocence,” a time when people felt the oceans would always be full of fish — no matter what they did. However, the warnings were frequent, especially regarding the commercial netters, and the innocence should quickly have been lost.

In the Beginning — 1887 saw much of the land that would become Redondo Beach purchased by a real estate syndicate and quickly they announced they would build a wharf:

A $400,000 Deal — The Splendid Dominguez Property Purchased by a Syndicate

The latest and biggest real estate deal of the week is the purchase of about 1400 acres of the San Pedro Rancho, known as the “Dominguez Property and Salt Works,” by Judge Charles Silent, D. McFarland and N. R. Vail… The frontage on the beach is about a mile and a half long, gradually sloping back for a half mile to an elevation of 600 feet. The surface is beautifully diversified and rolling, thus affording a view of surpassing loveliness and grandeur for miles in all directions, including Los Angeles, Ballona, and the whole valley… The lots will be laid out according to designs by and under the general supervision of William H. Hall, at present State Engineer. Mr. Hall built the Golden Gate Park at San Francisco… It is the purpose of the syndicate to erect an iron pier for vessels and pleasure-boats… A magnificent hotel, similar to the far-famed Del Monte, will be erected… —Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1887

That same year saw the discovery of the submarine canyon, a fact that led the Santa Fe Railroad to decide to make Redondo Beach its “Southern Terminal.” An article soon appeared that  discussed the advantages of Redondo as a deep-water port:

 Deep-Sea Commerce —Where Can It Be Harbored on the Southern Coast?

For several months past a very interesting study has been in progress which nearly concerns the welfare of Los Angeles, and, indeed, of the southern end of the state generally. It appears we have no deep-water harbor or sheltered deep-water landing thus far established. There are only two harbors on the Southern coast—Wilmington and San Diego. The one does not admit even medium sized ships, and the other will admit a moderately large ship when heavily laden, only at high tide.

The Redondo Beach Company finding in their property the command of an unexpectedly deep-water frontage, have quietly had this whole subject sifted, and now in response to an earnest call from the Board of Trade for the information as matter of public interest, have sent to President Eugene Germain copies of the reports of their advising engineers…

A synopsis of the report of Col. H. G. Mendell upon the natural conditions of Redondo Beach as a commercial seaboard point and upon the construction to develop its advantages… The colonel says: “The ten fathom contour is within 500 feet of shore.” And then he says that “in front of Santa Monica it is one-half miles out” to the depth which is only 500 feet out at Redondo Beach. Concluding this subject he says that “the only other point on the adjacent coast presenting similar characteristics is about thirty miles to the southward, where the ten fathom curve comes to within 1200 feet of the shore at a place a little above the Newport estuary,” and further says that “this feature belongs to no other frontage on Santa Monica Bay proper.” Attention is then called to the fact that, “the close proximity of deep water is a feature of great value. First, it presents the obvious advantage of giving a maximum amount of accommodation for a minimum length of wharf, less expensive both to build and maintain. As compared with others, the exposure of a structure thus located is much less, because it soon passes into a depth, where the motion of the water is oscillatory and not percussive, in which position the structure receives no blows from breaking waves. Another advantage is that vessels lying at a wharf thus located in water of considerable depth, are free from the disturbances due to ground swells of the ordinary sea wave, and as the water deepens seaward, no disturbance is propagated from waves breaking outside the wharf… These conditions give this position a peculiar value for commercial uses not shared with any other in the vicinity…

The next division of the report is devoted to the exposure of the water frontage at Redondo Beach to winds and waves… the clear outlook from the beach is bounded by land over three-fourths of the horizon and is opened for about 8 points of the compass only: “it is open only to the westerly winds of summer and to the southwesterly winds in winter, and it is well covered from the northerly and from the “southeast to southerly storms.”… “in all ordinary weather during the prevalence of northerly winds, vessels could discharge at a wharf at Redondo Beach.” … “If it be established that vessels can lie here free from exposure to southerly seas and winds to which the bay of San Pedro is to a great extent open, Redondo at once becomes a position of prime importance.”

…”For deep-water vessels it is desirable to have at least four fathoms of water alongside of a pier.  To reach this depth at Redondo Beach a pier has to be only 300 or 400 feet in length from shore, whereas at Newport it would have to be at a thousand feet in length; at Point Fermin it would have to be 1500 feet in length, and in San Pedro Bay it would have to be from 3000 to 4000 feet in length.”

These comparisons made, Colonel Mendall says, “steamers from San Francisco, landing first at Redondo, would doubtless there discharge their passengers, who would reach Los Angeles some hours earlier than they can now, or than they could do if landed on piers in San Pedro Bay… “It appears to me that under existing conditions, a pier at Redondo Beach with railroad connections to Los Angeles would at once secure the passenger travel and freight to and from San Francisco, and the deep-sea freight, lumber and coal not consigned to the Southern Pacific Railroad…—Los Angeles Herald, January 11, 1888

Work continued on both the railroad and on the wharf:

Ready For Traffic — Opening of the Redondo Road—the First Trip

The first train over the Redondo Beach road was hauled over that line on Monday…This new line forms an important addition to the commercial enterprises of Los Angeles. Twenty miles in length, it starts from the Santa Fe depot at First street, traverses the rich Inglewood, Centinela and Sausal Redondo valleys and terminates at one of the most favored watering spots on the coast. A pier wharf 1,100 feet wide is to be built there and two vessels are now unloading lumber at a temporary wharf for that purpose. —Los Angeles Herald, April 4, 1888

 Fishing —

[A few explanatory notes in regard to the fish. In the late 1800s and early 1900s corbina were generally called surf, or surf fish, and the small corbina were called nippers. Mackerel seem to have come in two sizes, regular small mackerel and large mackerel that were usually called corn-fed mackerel. Finally, giant (black) sea bass were given the unfortunate name jewfish, a name used well into the1920s.]

“Fishing from the pier, the takes were so good that no one worried about taking home the specific fish he caught. You just piled them up behind you, as they came through, chasing the bait. If you caught five, you got to take five home.” (Personal memories of Bob Goldstone)—Dennis Shanahan, Old Redondo, A Pictorial History of Redondo Beach, California  

By the summer of 1888 people were fishing from the wharf, as seen in the following stories. Assumedly the wharf was the unfinished Wharf No. 1 and it’s clear that people were not afraid to claim fishing rights on a wharf even before its completion—as would also happen to wharves No. 2 and No. 3.

Master A. Currier last Wednesday captured a Jew-fish weighing four hundred pounds, which he brought to this city and sold to one of the markets, and only a day or two ago a stingaree was captured off the wharf which was a monster. It weighed two hundred pounds and was three feet across the back when laid on the ground. His stinger was four inches long. —Los Angeles Herald, June 27, 1888

 A Day’s Pleasure

The excursion trains to the coast yesterday were heavier than ever before in the city’s history, this hegira being doubtless caused by the unusually hot weather… Redondo Beach was visited by about 400 pleasure-seekers, most of whom passed the day enjoying the superb fishing from the wharf. —Los Angeles Herald, July 16, 1888

Redondo Beach

The wharf is being pushed at a rapid rate toward deep water, and it will not be very long before deep-sea vessels can land at it safely. —Los Angeles Herald, July 23, 1888

A shark of the hammerhead species over nine feet long, with a “sucker” attachment, was caught from the wharf this forenoon. The capture caused quite an excitement, and drew the whole brigade of amateur fishermen and fisherwomen to the spot. The wharf is lined, early and late, with fishers, young and old, male and female, who sit on stools or lie (on their stomachs), while trying their luck. —Los Angeles Herald, August 10, 1889

At Redondo

A great day for fishing was yesterday at Redondo. The big pier was crowded with men and women fishers, to say nothing of the small boy whose name was legion. A very forest of bamboo rods bristled over the sides of the pier. —Los Angeles Herald, August 20, 1888

At Redondo—A School of mackerel and Numbers of Other Fish

A great day for fishing was yesterday at Redondo. The big pier was crowded with men and women fishers, to say nothing of the small boy whose name is Legion. A very forest of bamboo rods bristled over the sides of the pier and there was an entanglement of lines, varying in size from the lithe and slender sea grass to the thickness of a cable. The cause of this unusual throng of disciples of Isaac Walton, was the presence of a great school of mackerel in the bay. The water fairly glistened with the silvery sides of the finny denizens of the deep, and those a-fishing did not have to wait long for a bite. The take of mackerel was exceedingly large, and smelt, sole, rock bass and bonito were also taken in abundance. Several fine yellowtail were caught, and the usual complement of shovel-nosed shark were hauled forth from their lair in the briny, much to the fright and discomfort of the more timid anglers…—Los Angeles Herald, August 20, 1888

Apparently the wharf was finished, at least in part, by October of ‘88, when newspapers began to report that steamers could now use the wharf.

Redondo Beach Items

 The steamer Eureka, of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, steamed up to the wharf at Redondo Beach on Friday afternoon, made fast and discharged a quantity of freight for the new waterworks there. —Los Angeles Herald, October 23, 1888

The wharf is complete with the exception of the warehouse and hoisting apparatus which have been ordered built at once. —Los Angeles Herald, December 16, 1888

Things seemed to be happening at a rapid rate but September 1888 also saw the “bust” in the boom or bust speculative real estate market that had enveloped Los Angeles and nearby areas. Prices on lots dropped, many people forfeited the lots they had bought, and most of the syndicates that had been put together to promote different areas pulled back—or ceased operation. It’s not clear the reason—positive, negative or neutral, but soon the Redondo Beach Company would see big changes.  

Captains J. C. Ainsworth and R. R. Thompson, Oregon lumber and shipping masters, became the largest stockholders of, and gained control of, the Redondo Beach Company. They would bring additional money into the company as well as additional big ideas.

Redondo Beach

Captain J. C. Ainsworth, of Oakland, and Captain R. R. Thompson, of San Francisco, have recently acquired a controlling interest in Redondo Beach and in Inglewood town sites… It is their intention to build a large wharf at Redondo at which shipping may be done. It is their intention to make this a place for the loading and unloading of the ocean-going vessels of the largest capacity… The wharf is complete with the exception of the warehouse and hoisting apparatus which have been ordered built at once. About five miles of water-works are nearly completed and pipes, etc. will be laid at once. The company proposes to go on with the improvement of the place regardless of what may be done in the way of sales of property, believing that this as well as other interests in Southern California are certain of ultimate success. The presence of such men as the Mesars. Ainsworth and Thompson, the one a resident of Oakland and the other of San Francisco, shows in what esteem this section is held. They are intimately acquainted with the resources of the whole Coast, and when they, the other day, put their money into this property, they acted with eyes wide open, and did so because they feel well assured that there is a great future before Los Angeles, and before all this southern country. —Los Angeles Herald, December 18, 1888

With the wharf complete it was now time to bring the Pacific Coast Steamship Company into the equation 

The Redondo Wharf — Particulars Regarding the Steamboat Service

The Herald yesterday morning announced that an arrangement has been made by which the Pacific Steamship Company’s boats are to call at Redondo Beach, and through the courtesy of Mr. W. Parris, the Company’s agent here, it is enabled now to give the full particulars regarding the traffic. From now on the freight streamer Bonita will call at Redondo Beach once a week for freight business only. On and after March 1st the steamers Eureka and Los Angeles, handling both freight and passenger business, will call at Redondo, making a service every four days to and from that point. The steamship company has made this change on account of the increased necessities of this southern territory, and the same order has been put into effect regarding Newport Landing, which has heretofore only had one freight boat (the Newport), touching there every ten days, This change gives Los Angeles three ports of delivery, San Pedro, Redondo and Newport. —Los Angeles Herald, January 31, 1889

On Feb 3 1889 it was announced that the wharf was 900-foot-long and 80 feet wide and had a water depth of 30 feet at low tide (end of wharf) and 18 feet (inshore). It also was diagonally braced underneath with one and one-half-inch iron rods.

It Is Not A Boom — But It Will Develop the Section’s Resources

Once in a while the newshunter in his rounds runs across a man who takes in the significance of these facts, and he finds a little corner of the sun-lit semi-tropics where industry is astir and where enterprise has its coat off and is at work. Such a place is Redondo, and such men are the sagacious, courageous, enterprising men at its head… The Captain is talking: “Yes, it is true we have a wharf at Redondo Beach, and it is true that the Pacific Coast Steamship Company’s vessels are to stop there on their trips up and down the coast. No, it is not true that only the smaller vessels will touch at our wharf. For the current month about one steamer a week will call there, but after March 1st, Redondo will be put on a regular schedule, and all the steamers will call. There is plenty of water, 23 feet, right alongside the wharf at low water. The wharf is 900 feet long, there are two tracks on it, so that vessels can lie alongside and discharge right onto the cars. There is no lightering, no rehandling on the wharf or elsewhere. We are at least two hours nearer than any other shipping point to Los Angeles than any other shipping point on the Coast. Passengers coming from San Francisco may remain here two hours longer than if they were to take the steamer at the old place. —Los Angeles Herald, February 6, 1889

Whoa Nellie! It’s good to be optimistic and sometimes it’s good to toot your horn, but you should never overlook Mother Nature and never assume that a pier is safe from storm and wave (even if it’s in a location supposedly free from danger). All of the press releases and interviews could not mitigate the actions of the sea just over a week later in damaging the wharf and pushing back the scheduled activity.

 A Severe Storm — Redondo Pier Damaged

At an early hour yesterday morning a storm commenced to rage west of the Rockies, and was severely felt in Southern California… The most serious damage yet reported is at Redondo Beach, where 150 feet of the fine new wharf, together with the warehouse on the end of it were carried away by the waves which were lashed by the wind into that condition usually expressed as “mountains high.” This instance the work of Boreas will convey a good idea of the severity of the storm, because the wharf was a very strong one, and has only been completed a few months. —Los Angeles Herald, February 16, 1889

What about the March 1st date for Redondo Beach becoming a regular stop for the Pacific Coast Steamship line steamers?

Since the destruction of the Redondo Beach wharf no steamers have stopped there, and although according to schedule both freight and passenger boats were to call after March 1st, it is not thought that they will unless some other arrangements for landing, pending the reconstruction of the pier, can be made. —Los Angeles Herald, February 25, 1889

 Redondo Beach Notes

The pier, which had been badly damaged by the storm some time since, has been entirely rebuilt, and now the Redondo Beach Company have as fine a pier as is situated at any point on the Pacific. A large ship was being unloaded at the end of the pier, and seemed to contain quite a cargo of ties… Ships are expected to arrive every day, with lumber for the new hotel, and already the ground has been leveled, and a broad walk has been laid tending to the beach… —Los Angeles Herald, May 20, 1889

Redondo Items

The soon-to-be-completed double-decked iron pier which the Redondo Beach Company will put out means that steamers from all over the known world will land there with perfect safety. —Los Angeles Times, July 15, 1890

Redondo Beach—The smoothest seas of the year are now prevailing at Redondo. Rock cod, halibut and yellowtails are being caught from the pier. Early in the morning long strings of mackerel are pulled out. The balance of the day nothing but larger fish are caught. —Los Angeles Herald, September 4, 1890


The noise of the pile driver is heard from early morning until late evening driving piles for the extension and widening of our wharf. It is much needed… —Los Angeles Times, September 6, 1890

The largest yellowtail caught from the wharf this season weighed 32 ½ pounds. A clerk with Coulter & Co., of Los Angeles, now bears the title of “boss fisherman.” —Los Angeles Herald, August 24, 1891

The first school of mackerel of the season gave signal of their vacation from the high seas this week. When the old fisherman sees that sign of fluttering on the still, glossy waters of the bay and knocks the ashes out of his pipe on the heel of his left boot with the air of a man who thoroughly understands himself, and is heard to murmur, “that’s them,” then and not until then it is time to take up your rod and basket and sharpen up your bait knife. Then is the time when the old man, with his trim rod and tackle, basket and pipe, and the small boy with bare feet and knowing smile, are envied because their baskets sound the long roll such as only a mackerel can sound, while the tenderfoot buys bait and gets his line tangled, the small boy still dangles his bare feet over the side of the wharf and smiles and the old man smokes and cuts bait. —Los Angeles Herald, May 7, 1892

Of course the port at Redondo did not go unnoticed, especially by the Santa Fe’s Railroad’s main competitor, the Southern Pacific Railroad. The growth of the Los Angeles basin during the 1880s meant a port was needed. The Southern Pacific favored a port at San Pedro but the port at Redondo was closer to San Francisco, the state’s most important city, and the Redondo wharf began to take business away from the Southern Pacific.

Fighting back, Collis Huntington and the other owners of Southern Pacific announced plans to build their own wharf, one to be located in the north part of Santa Monica, even closer to San Francisco than Redondo.

On July 25, 1892, Southern Pacific began to drive piles for their “Long Wharf” located at the mouth of Potrero Canyon. Lacking a deep-water canyon, the wharf would extend out 4,720 feet, become California’s longest oceanfront pier, and the longest wooden pier in the world. When the wharf began operations, on May 11, 1893, it became the “Port of Los Angeles” and was known by that name for many years.

The nearly-mile-long pier was huge; it included two sets of railroad tracks (standard width and narrow gauge) that branched into seven tracks at the 130-foot-wide seaward end. The end included a warehouse, coal bunkers, depot and unloading facilities, a baggage room, and a restaurant. Out toward the end, a stairway led down to a platform and boathouse reserved for anglers and sailors.

Redondo would remain an important seaport but would need to diversify and attract more visitors to Redondo; seaside attractions would become as important as the commercial wharves in bringing money to Redondo.

Wharf No. 1 remained a cornerstone of activity and commerce with a small business section adjacent to the wharf. Of course “Mother Nature” would play occasional havoc with activities.

Redondo — The Repairs on the wharf About Completed

Redondo Beach, Dec. 2.—This morning witnessed the closing up of the hiatus in the Redondo wharf, caused a few days ago by a boisterous attack from the old Pacific, then on a big tear. Tomorrow the iron track will once more be in position for the regular interchange of traffic between vessels and railroad cars. The new piles just driven down were of the best material to be obtained, and before being placed were thoroughly prepared by the patent asphaltum coating to protect them from the ravages of the toredo. Each pile was driven to a much greater depth than the original piling had been, so the structure when completed will be much stronger and sounder than ever. —Los Angeles Herald, December 3, 1892

The wharf at Redondo is now repaired and all freight consigned to the Santa Fe via Redondo will be forwarded expeditiously. —South Riverside Bee, December 10, 1892

As from its earliest days, fishing from the wharf and in boats that ran out of the wharf was very popular.

The usual Sunday crowd, numbering up among the thousands, invaded the beach today, enjoying the surf, listening to the Douglas military band in the hotel park or taking out a fine basket of mackerel and yellowtail from the Redondo wharf. —Los Angeles Herald, June 26, 1893

Redondo — The Norther Demolishes a Part of the Wharf

Redondo Beach, Nov. 24.—Thanksgiving day was ushered  in with a violent northwestern gale, which struck the coast early this morning  and continued fiercely all the fore part of the day. Luckily no vessels except the barkentine Gleaner were in port to be demoralized by the wind and waves, and she is safely riding at anchor in the offing. The high gale was, as a matter of course, supplemented by a very heavy sea, which struck the Redondo wharf with terrific violence and finally carried away several bents of piling near the center of the structure. No piles were broken, but simply lifted bodily from their hold, letting the superstructure above down into the sea. The derangement is of a temporary character and will be remedied very soon, so that business can proceed as usual… —Los Angeles Herald, November 25, 1892

Fine Fishing From The Pier—Redondo, Aug. 16—Fishing from the pier was never better than at present. Some very remarkable catches have recently been reported, consisting principally of Spanish mackerel. Yellowtail are beginning to bite and barracuda are plentiful. —Los Angeles Herald,  August 17, 1894

Fine Fishing From The Pier—Redondo, Aug. 16—Fishing from the pier was never better than at present. Some very remarkable catches have recently been reported, consisting principally of Spanish mackerel. Yellowtail are beginning to bite and barracuda are plentiful. —Los Angeles Herald, August 17, 1894

Redondo — Hundreds of Large Fish Caught on the Wharves

Redondo, Sept. 11,—This has been its greatest day of the year for fishing. The two wharves have been lined with anglers all day and not a person who cast a line came away empty handed. On the south wharf [Wharf No. 2] upwards of 400 yellowtail were caught. They were piled up like cord wood and in several instances were caught as high as thirty-five and forty with a single line. On the old wharf [Wharf No. 1] the scene was similar. Fish lay in piles everywhere. The excitement caused by the opening of the fishing season was very general. Men left their houses to go angling and women and children were also out to try their luck. A number of good-sized sharks were captured during the day and they made things lively by tangling up lines and mixing things generally. Mackerel bit exceptionally well all day, though nearly everyone abandoned them to try for bigger game. —Los Angeles Herald, September 12, 1896

Walter Porter arrived at the beach to spend a few days fishing and bathing. Mr. Porter is an enthusiastic fisherman. His specialty is fishing for sharks and he will sit on the wharf all night long to catch a shark or two. Late Tuesday night he hooked an eight-foot shark, while fishing from the old wharf, but for the timely arrival of some friends he would have had to cut his line, as he was unable to land him alone. —Los Angeles Times July 16, 1897

There was a great deal of excitement on wharf No. 1 this morning caused by the capture of several large “corn-fed” mackerel by one of the wharf fishermen. In a remarkably short time all the available space was taken up by fishermen, for the big mackerel and some of the largest fish ever caught here were carried off the wharf in the baskets of anglers. Of all the different kinds of fishing, large mackerel fishing is probably the most exciting. The large ones are very game and strong, and it taxes the strength of the best poles to land two of the corn-fed beauties at a time. Many of the fishermen have their rods broken when they attempt to land three at once. It is advisable when fishing for corn-fed mackerel to fish with but one or two hooks, as, when they are running good, they usually take all the hooks, and very few bamboo rods will stand the strain of landing more than two at a time. —Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1897

Capture of a Large Man-Eating Shark

Redondo Beach, Aug. 27.—The large man-eating shark captured by Capt. Darney Pierson of the yacht Viking while cruising in the channel off Rocky Point was towed to wharf No. 1 last evening by the yacht Bonnie Bell, and was hoisted on the wharf this morning. The monster was embalmed, or, rather, washed in a preparation supposed to prevent the fish from creating a stench until after Sunday. The shark was of the man-eating variety usually found in the south seas, and rarely seen in these waters. It is provided with six rows of large, saw-edged teeth, calculated to strike terror to the salt who discovered him following in the wake of a ship. Yesterday a large school of yellowtail visited the wharves, and quite a number were landed by the wharf fishermen on both wharves. During the afternoon three large thrasher sharks approached the old wharf and the yellowtail, mackerel, and sardines took a hurried departure. Fishing was poor from the edge of the wharf the rest off the afternoon. Frank McKern of Riverside, who is spending the summer at the beach, is among the lucky wharf fishermen. Last evening he sat on wharf No. 1 among a crowd of fisher folk and in a remarkably short space of time filled his basket with fish. Included in his catch were six unusually large yellowfin and several large corn-fed mackerel. —Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1897

Redondo, Oct. 13.—No better fishing was ever had at Redondo than now. Numerous anglers on the wharves are catching hundreds of yellowtail, barracuda, halibut, flounder and mackerel. The fisherman today in drawing in the net for mackerel drew in about 150 large yellowtail. —Los Angeles Herald, October 14, 1898

Fisherman Francis — He Catches a Ton of Assorted Fish at Redondo—Redondo, Oct.15—Mr. John F. Francis, who has been a guest at Hotel Redondo for the past week, says that fishing has never been so heavy as it is now. Mr. Francis has been on the wharves from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day this week and has brought to the dock something over a ton of fish, including halibut, flounder, speckled blue perch, yellowtail, barracuda, sculpin, bonita, mackerel, small fish of all varieties found here, and several sharks. It seems that the cloudy, murky weather is the best for fishing, and we have had plenty of it this week. —Los Angeles Herald, October 16, 1898

Good Sport at Fishing

Redondo, June 23—There have at numerous times been greater catches of fish than those of the past few days here, but it is seldom that their taking is accompanied by so much genuine sport. The water during the past day or two has been as clear as crystal, and the breezes, although fresh, has not been sufficient to ripple the surface as to prevent gazing into the depths. Myriads of sardines have hovered about the piling, and attracted the bigger denizens of the sea. Like jackrabbits, the sardines have no armor or weapons with which to protect themselves. Their only safety is in speed and in getting under cover. The pilings of the wharf, with its beautiful surfaces, offers a certain amount of safety if they hug it directly when seeking to escape the assaults of the large fish. The sardine schools present a constantly changing appearance, and the little fellows are ever appreciative of danger. If as innocent looking jellyfish happens to drift in among them they will keep at least twenty feet away from it.Among the larger fish that have been running: plentiful are the gamey mackerel. The catches of that variety on Thursday broke the record. Many of them closely approached the four-pound mark. The hook-and-line people differ as to the best bait for mackerel, but some of the most successful maintain small fish cut in half. J. A. Woodley made some interesting hauls today with the spear, a kind of tackle that cannot usually be operated from the wharf with much success because the water is not commonly clear enough. Woodley caught two halibut by well-directed throws, driving his spear to the bottom where the fish were lying in twenty feet of water, not far from shore. Later in the afternoon he saw a big sea bass. It was swimming at a great pace but Woodley made a lucky throw and drove the points into the fish’s neck, killing it instantly. It was a forty pounder and was so heavy that it couldn’t be hauled up onto the wharf with the small line attached to the spear. It was towed ashore with some difficulty. —Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1899

Enormous Catches of Mackerel Recently

Redondo Beach, Aug. 18—The mackerel fishing from the wharves claims the attention of most visitors now, and some wonderful catches are made. Will Johnson of Los Angeles made a hail of 208 mackerel yesterday morning, and this morning filled his basket with sea trout. T. S. Russell of Los Angeles made the best catch of the season so far as known. He landed 253 mackerel in three hours from wharf No. 1 yesterday morning. L. T. Garnsey, president of the Los Angeles and Redondo Railway, heard about the large catches of mackerel that have been made, so yesterday morning he was called at 4 o’clock, donned a pair of overalls and started out ‘to break a record.’ His catch amounted to eight fine large mackerel. —Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1900

Redondo Brevities—The wharves are now filled with nocturnal fishermen, and the catches made last night were exceedingly good. Small salmon grouper and white fish are running in abundance, many large catches being made during the past week. This is the first time in a number of years that white fish have been caught from the wharves. —Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1902

Lantern Fishermen At Redondo

Redondo, Aug. 4—Fishing with lanterns is one of the latest forms of amusement at this summer settlement. So popular have the hours from midnight till sunrise grown for the pastime that one had to be about early in the evening to secure a good location from which to fish. The midnight train from Los Angeles on Saturday night carries the greatest number of passengers of any throughout the week, and they are one and all fortified with all the paraphernalia for a night’s work. The fish, it is claimed, are attracted by floating lantern, and bite better than in sunlight, which statement is verified by the great quantities of fish secured during the night, from twenty to twenty-five being the average catch for each individual. —Los Angeles Times, August 5, 1902

Redondo yielded a number of small sea trout during the day and one splendid fish of ten pounds, so near the line that divides sea trout from sea bass that it might have passed for either. It put up a terrific fish on W. R. Phillip’s rod but he finally played it out and saved his treasure, being prouder of the capture than a father with his first son. It must be admitted Mr. Phillips had some excuse, too. Several fine bass were landed at Redondo. As usual the live bait contingent did the major part of the execution, but others who were busy with smaller game than trout and halibut did fairly well. —Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1903

The yellowtail, long and slim of body, are in quite another class of fish, and indeed they are the aristocrat of southern waters. They lead a strenuous life for the sharks love yellowtail above all other meat, and it is no uncommon thing for a fisherman to have a safely hooked yellowtail bitten squarely in two before he is lifted from the boat. In fact, I have seen this very thing done from the wharf at Redondo—one of the best points for shore fishing on the coast south of Santa Barbara—and a heavier hook, baited with the remaining piece of yellowtail and thrown back into the ocean caught the robber as he returned to see what he had left. —Harry H. Dunn, After Big Fish In The Channel, Western Field,February 1904

Eleven-Pounder Is Caught By A Redondo Angler

At last the great, great grand-daddy of the Corbina tribe has been gathered to his fathers and a nine days’ sensation among fishermen ended. After long years of piscatorial vicissitudes in which more than once he had formed temporary but entangling alliances with the leaders of briefly lucky bait butchers; after countless sessions of intermittent chase of the succulent sand-crab varied by occasional séances with the secretive clam, this silver-scaled giant last week fell a victim to the wiles of A. White of Redondo in the still waters of the night and under the seductive light of the full moon. His weight at capture was eleven pounds and two ounces, which is by far in excess of all known records for corbina in this vicinity. The Sunday preceding Harry Slotterbeck perceived a huge fish of some sort groveling slowly on the bottom; searching for food after the manner of corbina. From its excessive length which he estimated to be three feet, at least, Slotterbeck fancied he was watching a shark, but a white flash from the side caused him to look closer and hardly believing his eyes, he recognized a corbina of most phenomenal proportions. Calling a friend, he too pronounced it a grand “surf” fish. The pair tried to catch the prize but he was wary and cared nothing bait. They quit in vain. The moonlight and the quiet night helped Mr. White two days later, and in triumph, he carried away the huge fish after a prolonged, nerve-racking tussle in the breakers. The big fellow put up the tremendous fight that might be expected from a seasoned veteran, strong and well schooled by time in all the arts and wiles that make corbina popular with fishermen. Mr. White had a twenty-minute tussle with his prize and nearly fell off the wharf when he got to look at it. He describes the catch as having a head the size of a man’s and bearing all the evidences of extreme age, though it was strong enough in the water. How old a fish of such extreme size must be left to conjecture. Corbina of small size and ravenous appetites were plentiful Sunday at all points from Del Rey and Redondo to Huntington Beach. F. Seeberg caught nearly a dozen fine sized ones off the beach in Santa Monica the largest weighing 4 ½ pounds. At Redondo Harry Slotterbeck caught nearly two dozen “nippers.” —Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1904

Tonopah Man Catches a 140 Pound Jewfish From Wharf

Redondo, June 11,—Wharf No. 1 was well lined throughout the day and the fishermen and maidens were well rewarded for their efforts. Not only mackerel have been plentiful but bass, yellowtail and halibut have been caught from the wharves and yesterday a 140-pound jewfish was landed at wharf No. 1. Capt. William Wood of Topopah, who is sojourning here for the summer, was the successful angler. —Los Angeles Herald, June 12, 1905

Big Fish

Ed Borhing, who lives at Main and Fourteenth streets in this city, is the proud possessor of a monster jewfish which he caught yesterday with a yellowtail line from the Redondo wharf. It weighed 205 pounds and the strength of four men was needed to land the thing, after it had been played with for five minutes. This is a remarkable fish to be landed with a small line and naturally Borhing is very much tickled over his prize. —Los Angeles Times, November 2, 1905

Redondo—Big Fish At Wharf

Redondo, Nov. 11.—E. H. Borhing of Yates City, Ill., has broken the record for catching fish, having landed three jewfish in the past week. While angling for yellowtail from wharf No. 1, the forepart of the week, he hooked a large jewfish, weighing 195 pounds, and after a long and hard struggle he managed to land it. On Wednesday his fishing tackle came again in contact with something a little larger than he had been used to catching, and on landing it found he had another jewfish, which weighed 216 pounds. But this afternoon’s catch beats the record. Mr. Borhing baited his tackle for the larger fish and was not fishing long when he received a terrible jerk, and noticed the monster tugging at the line. It was hard work to land the monster, but he was finally hauled to the wharf and weighed. He tipped the scales at 465 pounds. Mr. Borhing is very proud of his catch and has had the head mounted. —Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1905

[Wharf] No. 1 is 1,000 feet long; length of berth 325 feet; depth of water at outer end, 55 feet; inshore end of berth, 25 feet.  —Lloyd’s Register of British And Foreign Shipping, 1907

Repairs on Wharf No.1 are progressing rapidly, but the passenger steamers still use No. 3 for landing passengers and unloading freight. —The Redondo Reflex, January 17, 1907

Yellowtail Galore — Schools of Squid Draw Almost Unprecedented Numbers of Big Fish

It has been years since yellowtail in such quantities as have been running for the past few days have been seen on our shores. Tuesday morning 475 were hauled in from Wharf No. 1 between ten and eleven o’clock… The water fairly boiled with fish and anyone with a line had no trouble in pulling out  one big fellow after another. At times the wharf, especially the north side, was so littered with wriggling fish that it was almost impossible to walk. It is said that it is eight years since the squid have shoaled in here before… One man hooked 75 and Mrs. Goodrich, who is known to all old residents as one of the most indefatigable anglers, caught over twenty. The fish began coming in on Sunday gradually increasing in numbers until the climax was reached on Tuesday when they took to deeper water, though good catches were made yesterday a short distance out. On Tuesday a man who was not dragging one or more yellowtail along was almost a rarity on the streets. —The Redondo Reflex, October 24, 1907

Rod and reel enthusiasts report a fine run of fish and catching good luck today at the two southerly piers, Nos. 2 and 3. One man came through town on his way home, with over a hundred pounds of yellowtail and stated that he had left the rest of his catch because of inability to carry it. He had landed thirty-one of the big fish. On Pier No. 1 however, Spanish mackerel and smelt reportedly were the sole visitation of the finny tribe. —Los Angeles Times, November 28, 1907

Laporte Man A Fisherman— Caught 12 Yellowtails — One Day Weighing 15 lbs. Each

Mrs. J. H. Cissel is in receipt of a letter from her son, Lew W. Cissel, who is now at Redondo Beach, California, where he recently figured in a large catch of yellowtail. Mr. Cissel enclosed a newspaper clipping from the Los Angeles Times, showing a picture of the women on the pier and an article of the big “run.” The Times says: Redondo experienced a remarkable run of yellowtail yesterday. Twenty-four tons is a conservative estimate of the amount carried off Pier No. 1. A count at the Redondo fish market of the yellowtail that had been taken off the pier by 5 o’clock, when they ceased to bite, showed 2,500, and there were fully 500 more of the gamy fish lying on the pier at the time. These 3,000 fish weighed an average of 15 pounds each. Less than five tons of the enormous catch were handled through the Redondo fish market, and the balance were carried away by amateur fishermen who flocked to the pier when it was discovered that the phenomenal school had come. In every back yard in Redondo a group was to be seen cleaning fish yesterday, and along the streets were many of the prominent citizens with large fish dangling from their hands. Stores and shops were closed while the proprietors and clerks took an hour off and rushed down to the pier to enjoy the sport. Women left their baking, got out their husband’s tackle and hastened to the wharf. By 8 o’clock in the morning the one pier where the yellowtail were biting was crowded with fishermen and women. The carnival lasted practically all day. The arrival of the steamship Santa Rosa in the forenoon temporarily interrupted the fishing on one side of the pier, but with the departure of the vessel a greater crowd than ever swarmed to the fishing place. The presence of a myriad of squid about the pier was the cause of the inrush of yellowtail from the deeper water. The squid are the chief food for the larger fish, and an immense school of them had been driven close to shore. They took refuge under Pier No. 1 while the voracious yellowtail lurked about the edges of the wharf, devastating the ranks of their prey. The squid is a peculiar soft fish of a bluish color, and the school was so numerous at Redondo yesterday that it was only necessary to drop a fish hook in the water to snag them. While still alive they were fastened to the hooks, and thrown into the water to be snapped up by the waiting yellowtail. —LaPorte Indiana Herald, November 28, 1907

Wharf To Be Extended

The new pile driver now being completed in the shops of Los Angeles & Redondo railway company, will be the largest pile driver in Southern California.The new machine will be put at work early next week extending Wharf No. 1 or No. 3, several hundred feet to accommodate the larger passenger and freight steamers hat now visit this port on the line between Seattle and San Diego. —The Redondo Reflex, February 4, 1909

Redondo Beach, May 5.—This beach has been experiencing an unprecedented run of pompano during the last week. Sunday and Monday the local wharves were black with anglers, who came here for the purpose of enjoying the sport. Many fine specimens of other varieties have been caught, amongst them three sea bass which aggregated 1000 pounds. The largest of these is estimated to weigh nearly 500 pounds. —Los Angeles Herald, May 5, 1909

Redondo Beach, May 14,—Large schools of pompano are running at wharf No. 1 during early hours of each day, and many large catches are reported. The prize catches of the run this morning were made by Charles Clark and Ed Sheely, who caught several dozen each. A curiosity in marine life was a double halibut taken on the banks this morning by Charles Johnson. The fish was identical on both upper and lower sides. —Los Angeles Herald, May 15, 1909

Must Have License

The state fish and game commission is sending out notices to the beach fishermen that anglers cannot sell fish they catch from the pier or from boats unless they pay the commercial fisherman’s license. Many fishermen going down to fish for a few hours or for all day have caught more fish than they want for their own use and have been in the habit of selling the over-supply to the fish markets. This will now be against the law unless the angler has provided himself with a commercial fisherman’s license. The licenses are obtainable from the fish and game commission or their deputies and cost $2.50 per year for citizens of the United States and $10 for aliens. Some of the beach fishermen, particularly those at Redondo Beach are inclined to think that the ruling works a hardship. —The Redondo Reflex, June 3, 1909

Biggest Sea Bass Of Season

Harold Rampe, a fourteen-year-old boy, caught the largest sea bass of the season this morning from Wharf No. 1. The fish weighed 35 pounds. It is but seldom that sea bass are caught so close in or that they are of such a size. After making his big catch Harold calmly tied the fish to the wharf and threw it into the water while he proceeded to continue his fishing. —The Redondo Reflex , June 3, 1909

Big Bass Is Caught By Young Fisherman — Boy Has Real Sport With Light Tackle

Redondo Beach, June 5.—Harold Rempe, a 14-year-old angler of this city, had an exciting experience Thursday when he took in a sportsmanlike manner, with rod and reel, a 35-pound sea bass while fishing from wharf No. 1. Young Rempe was using a live bait and had just made a clever cast when he felt a sharp strike that nearly wrenched the rod from his hands. With a poorer outfit the youth would have lost his fish on the first rush. He applied his thumb break, but did not attempt to stop the fierce run too suddenly. Ignoring the gratuitous advice and suggestions of hand-line hacks and “pole” fishermen the boy played his fish is a mastery way, reeling in like a veteran on inward rushes and checking up with the brakes on the mad dashes away from the pier. When one persistent and garrulous meat hunter crowded in on the lad with shouts and gesticulations Harold said with all the dignity of his fourteen years: “If you will keep cool I think I can bring this fish to gaff.” And bring it he did. After about fifteen minutes’ play the big bass showed signs of giving up the fight and was soon alongside the wharf, where a drop gaff secured the prize. Older anglers on the pier and a score of others attracted to the scene congratulated Harold on his catch. They made him submit to the photographic ordeal. —Los Angeles Herald, June 6, 1909

At Redondo on wharf No. 1 the pompano are greatly in evidence, and with the exception of steamer days, when the sport necessarily ceases for a time, men, women and children constantly line the pier and dangle lines between the pilings. At number 3 wharf yellowtail and sea trout are taken occasionally, although they have not made their appearance yet in great numbers. —Los Angeles Herald, June 12, 1909

Big Run Of Pompano

Pompano fishing was the chief occupation Monday and Tuesday of all who could slip away from their sterner duties as well as the regular of the wharves, for pompano were thick in the water about Wharf No.1 and all who fished caught pompano as long as they cared to fish. Monday in about five hours Deputy Collector of Customs C. A. Sheldrick secured seventy-eight pounds, or about 400 fishes. Three and four on his line at a time were drawn up until at least he stopped only because he was tired. Fishermen from Los Angeles soon learned of the sport and each car from the city brought eager sportsmen who could be seen later leaving with well-filled baskets. —The Redondo Reflex, June 17, 1909

Sea Trout Running — Two Big Catches Made Yesterday

Fishing has been unusually good sport this week from Wharf No. 1. Sea trout are running in large numbers and anchovies, the bait used for the trout, are plentiful. C. Brandt, formerly of this city, came down from Los Angeles Wednesday and succeeded in landing the biggest sea bass that has been caught anywhere this season. The fish weighed 60 pounds and was caught with a rod and reel. Mr. Brandt had a half hour’s tussle with the big fish before landing it. Walter Rampe and Jack Watson caught a 250-pound jew-fish yesterday morning with a throw line. —The Redondo Reflex, June 24, 1909

Good Fishing At Redondo—Redondo, Oct. 12.—Spanish and greenback mackerel and yellowtail are running in great numbers here now. All three wharves are occupied by many fishermen. Some exceptionally large mackerel have been caught. —Santa Ana Register October 12, 1909

Fishing Good

Tomcod, which are said by old fishermen to be the forerunners of surf fish, have been running in great numbers about Wharf No. 1 this week. This means the opening of the spring fishing, which will no doubt continue good from now on. Tuesday James Todd, a police officer of Los Angeles, caught a gunnysack full of the tom cod, weighing about 150 pounds if fish. His catches were made by many from the wharf. A 400 pound jew fish was caught Wednesday by Charles Johnson, a local fisherman. —The Redondo Reflex, January 27, 1910

Take Tons Of Fish By Reel — Big Yellowtail Stacked at Redondo Beach

Excitement was perched on a hair-trigger at Redondo Beach yesterday by one of the most phenomenal runs of yellowtail ever seen in southern waters. Not only were there plenty of the big fish, but there were millions of them. The waters around the wharves fairly swarmed with them. Out beyond the wharves the sea was fully alive with them for more than a mile. At daybreak the cry of “yellowtail” rang through the downtown district of this town like a clarion calling troopers to war. The response was immediate. There was a rush for the wharves which were already well strewn with big yellow fellows that had been brought to gaff after fights such as for gameness and generalship in the water are only surpassed by battles with tuna. By 9 o’clock the wharves were lined with a forest of poles. The whole town had gotten the “yellowtail” fever by this time. Those who were unable to find room to cast, and there were hundreds of them, crowded the wharves all day and witnessed a miniature battle of Santiago, as hundreds of the big fish were putting up fights which made some of the old-time fishermen begin to think they had hooked Jack Johnson. Twelve Hundred Caught—The record for the day, of fish accounted for, is 1202. Of these 294 were caught on wharf No. 1; 154 on No. 2; 326 on No. 3, and 429 in skiffs around the wharves. The fish weighed between seventeen to twenty-nine pounds each. Averaging them at twenty pounds each, the total weight of yesterday’s catch was 24,040 pounds, or more than twelve tons. Of this enormous catch, which undoubtedly breaks some records, each fish was caught on a hook and line… The afternoon found nearly every business house in the city “gone fishing.” Even the schoolteachers could just as well have enjoyed the sport for all that was doing at roll call. W. T. Maddex, superintendent of the Los Angeles and Redondo Railway, whose Olympian Jove is a scientific yellowtail—one of those able-bodied fellows with a pull like a ward heeler, was absent from his office all day. To Maddex the singing of a reel is as sweet as the music of Aeolian harps, and the final gaffing, an honor shared by only chesty Toreador. His catch was four which averaged twenty-four pounds. At sundown he was still on the wharves admiring the big catches and making estimates on today’s crop. This Woman Scientific—To Mrs. W. J. Bell belongs the honor of the most scientific catches of the day. She brought to gaff three yellowtail with an eight-ounce rod and an eighteen-thread line. W. C. Eckert, a tourist from St. Louis, enjoyed the sport and went home with seven of the largest sized ones to his credit. He says the run was the largest he had seen in the forty years he has been indulging in the rod and reel sport. His fish ranged from eighteen to twenty-eight pounds. The record-breaking run of fish is attributed to recent storms at sea and the presence of phosphorescence in the waters at several other points on the south coast. Not only are the big fish in evidence, but the neighboring waters are fairly alive with anchovies, sardines, and schools of small mackerel, and the big fish always follow these smaller fish upon which they feed. Three years ago this month there was a large run of the same kind of fish, and at that time Redondo Beach was the seat of excitement. The run of yesterday, however, surpassed that of three years ago, as there seems to be no letup, and today’s catches will probably equal those of yesterday. The only letup of the sport yesterday occurred in the afternoon when a large seal joined in the sport, and, after getting his fill, started off toward the beach row where he has been “at home” for the past three months… A feature of the fishing yesterday was the fact that there was an endless quantity of fishing tackle which could be rented for the entire day for 25 cents for an outfit, which price did not prevent those in small circumstances from joining the sport. Those who employed the cheap tackles were as fortunate in landing the big fish as the expert with his high-priced outfit… It was not at all uncommon yesterday for a man who had just caught a large yellowtail to offer it in even exchange for a live bait, meaning a mackerel five or six inches long… Charles McGwyre and Dudley Wright, fishing for halibut on wharf No. 1, landed 49, the largest of which weighed 17 pounds. Hindus from the British steamer Iran launched the life boats and replenished their larder with about 1000 pounds of the fish, which they salted for a “rainy day.” Late last night the wharves were lined with fishermen, many of whom camped through the night in order to make sure of a berth when the battle is resumed this morning. Practically all of yesterday’s catches from the wharves were with rod-and-reel tackle. This is in marked contrast with the hand lines almost exclusively in use only a few years ago. Then the fishermen used an iron weight which, after letting out eight or ten feet of line, he would swing around his head in a circle till the acquired momentum was sufficient to throw the weight and attached hook out from the wharf. —Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1910

Seals Gorge On Big Fish — Heavy Run Of Yellowtail in Redondo Waters

One of the largest runs of yellowtail that ever swept into the bay at Redondo came to an end yesterday morning, when a gay young heard of seals and dolphins from the blue waters of Catalina Isle dashed in among the game fish and put them to rout. Sunday the run was at its height and every boat, launch and yawl was pressed into service and the piers at Redondo were literally black with fishermen and sightseeing tourists. It is estimated that 2000 pounds of yellowtail were caught at Pier No. 1 at Redondo Sunday afternoon. There was a corresponding number of pounds of fish caught at the other two piers near by… At the same time as the yellowtail were running so freely a tremendous run of sardines began. The waters surrounding Redondo were literally alive with the writhing, squirming little fish. They were everywhere and it became tame sport to catch them. Nets were lowered and raised as fast as strong men could handle them. They would be pulled out of the water a veritable mass of sardines. The fishermen would shake the fish as free as possible from the nets and return the nets again to the water, while they still contained hundreds of pounds of the little fish. Tourists who crowded the wharves could see millions of the little fish in the clear water and the sight was one long to be remembered. Boys armed with homemade nets would dip them into the water and bring them up almost bursting with the mass of fish they contained… Yesterday morning a crowd of enthusiastic anglers went to Redondo at an early hour to participate in the wonderful fishing, which they expected to last another day. Instead of the plentitude of yellowtail they saw little the little harbor dotted here and there with leaping black forms of seals. There were hundreds of them and they drove the yellowtail into deep water in an hour or so. At times the water was fairly boiling with the rush of the seals and a few dolphins as they gave chase to the fleet yellowtail. While the fishing was not as good, the sport to the onlookers was never better. It was a fishing match on a large scale, with the seals and dolphins acting as fishermen. The seals are thought to have followed in the wake of the yellowtail from their usual haunts around Catalina Island, and it is expected that after remaining at Redondo a few days they will again disappear toward Catalina. Yesterday the seals became so frolicsome after their first yellowtail that they came into the shallow water and seemed at times about to come out of the water onto the beach. The presence of such great numbers of sardines brought with them a vast flock of pelicans, which infested the waters around Redondo throughout the day. These pelicans together with the seals, dolphins, sardines and yellowtail, combined to form an aquarium of the entire bay around Redondo. The run of sardines is expected to last several days ad the fishing companies say that if they have luck they will secure the largest stock of the toothsome little fish they have ever had in the bay. —Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1911

Yellowtail And Sea Bass Taken At Redondo Beach — Best in Years

Sea fishing alongshore has held out rather better than usual thus far this month. January usually is about the best of the winter months for angling, and is featured in most seasons by a run or two of yellowtail, pompano, jack smelts, mackerel, or even corbina. These latter are usually “seen but not heard” flopping on the wharf at such times, as it is hard to induce them to accept bait in winter. Quite the best fishing of the week has been enjoyed at Redondo Beach, where yellowtail and sea bass have been taken, and no end of large sardines and small mackerel have been in evidence. It has been possible to have sport with the big fellows, or land a mess of small fry, as the fisherman willed. The fishing at Redondo formerly was the best along the entire coast, and after a relapse of a few seasons, seems to be coming into its own again. There have been spasmodic runs of yellowtail in which several hundred would be corded up on the wharf in a day, but the old-time sport at Redondo was not of this nature. Instead, there would be months at a time when the hand-liner, who still flourishes to a limited extent at that resort, could be assured of several yellowtail and a sea bass or two at any time he chose to go after them, and happened to strike a school of bait in alongside the wharf. The big fellows would be lying along its outer edges, readily responsive to the blandishments of a crippled live sardine artfully dangled from a clothesline within temptingly easy reach. —Edwin L. Hedderly, Los Angeles Times, January 24, 1911

Gaffs 233-Pound Fish After Six-Hour Fight — A Los Angeles Business Man Lands Sea Monster While Fishing From Pier

Los Angeles, May 20.—The pier fishing record for Los Angeles was broken at Redondo yesterday when James Helbach, a local business man, brought to gaff a Jew fish weighing 223 pounds. Helbach fought his prize from 6:30 in the morning until 12 o’clock, and after it was landed on the pier he nearly fell from exhaustion. No fish approaching this one in size was ever caught before by a pier fisherman in Los Angeles. —Los Angeles Herald, May 20, 1912

Redondo Beach, Oct. 20.—The largest lobster caught here this season was hooked on a drop line from wharf No. 1 today by Richard de Stombs, clerk of the Hotel Yorkshire, Los Angeles. The lobster weighed fifteen pounds. A lobster weighing ten pounds was caught from the end of wharf No. 1 yesterday on a line. The lobster catches brought in by the fishermen continue to grow smaller and prices accordingly are going higher. Lobsters are now retailing for 25 cents a pound. They started at 15 cents a pound at the beginning of the season. —Los Angeles Times, October 21, 1912

New Pilings For Pier

A construction gang has been at work during the last week on Pier No. 1, taking out a number of the old pilings, and in their places installing new ones which will lengthen the usefulness of this popular promenade. —The Redondo Reflex, January 10, 1913

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

Wild Current Washing New Channel At Beach

Redondo Beach, March 12.—Wharf No. 1, owned by the Pacific Electric Company, had the appearance of a roller coaster this morning, with a drop of twenty-five feet in the center, where for a distance of 200 feet the underpinning was torn out by the heavy sea last night. At 1 o’clock this morning workmen removed all the tools from the toolhouse on the wharf as it was not thought possible the old pier could stand the sea pounding at the remaining piles and the loose timers dashing against them with a tremendous force. The toolhouse of the Pacific Electric company and the building of the Redondo fish market adjoining were tilted on one end three feet lower than the shore end of the buildings and fearing the destruction of these the occupants vacated them last night. This morning a large wreckage crew under D. W. Kegeris commenced the work of tearing away the flooring of the pier under which the pilings were washed out and within three weeks or sooner the pier will be completely repaired. The pile-driver will be used tomorrow driving in the timbers to replace those washed out by the storm. At the point where the wharf has been wrecked the current was terrific last night and a channel twenty-eight feet deep has been washed here according to soundings taken this morning. Instead of twelve feet of water there is a depth of forty feet today at that point. Near wharf No. 2 today the sea reminds one of a stream with a logjam as the huge pilings all washed toward this pier and formed a network of timbers near the shore which were drawn to shore by the wrecking engine today. Nearly 200 pilings were torn out of wharf No. 1 last night and for a time threatened to wreck No. 2 wharf by jamming against it. —Los Angeles Times, March 13, 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

State Asked To Take Over Wharf

Redondo Beach. June 10.—The City Council… instructed the City Attorney to communicate with the State Harbor Commission and Attorney-General requesting that the State take  control of wharf No. 1, to prevent the Pacific Electric from using it. At a previous meeting a resolution was introduced declaring the franchise for wharf No. 1 void. The franchise was granted to the railway for twenty years with the promise that work would commence within four months of the date it was given and that it would be pursued with due diligence. It was claimed that was not done, and that the wharf was unsafe. —Los Angeles Times, June 11, 1914

Offer To Sell Wharf

Redondo Beach, Nov. 10.—The Pacific Electric Railway has offered the city the approach to wharf No. 1 and the wharf for $17,500, the city to take care of the removal of the pipe lines at a cost not to exceed $5000. The City Council is considering the matter. —Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1914

The headlines on January 31, 1915 were daunting—“Raging Surf Batters South Beach Towns—Great Damage Done Along Coast Line by Heavy Ocean Storm.” “Piers Smashed by Pounding Waves, Sea Walls Torn Away and Homes Wrecked as Tide Sweeps Shoreward During Height of Gale.” At Redondo it was reported that the heaviest storm in many years, coupled with a 6.7 feet high tide, caused damage along the entire oceanfront from Pier No. 1 to Playa del Rey. Damage to the tune of an estimated $75,000. And while the headlines screamed that “Piers May Go Today,” the Redondo wharves actually escaped with minimal damage (albeit 1500 feet of the Standard Oil wharf was washed out). Other piers in Santa Monica Bay were not as lucky. Just a few days later, on February 5, it was reported that, “Waves Batter Racing Coaster and the Damage at Redondo Beach is Many Thousands.” Giant breakers combined with a 5.5 high tide tore into the bulkhead and pilings supporting the roller coaster; in time the pilings began to snap and the coaster began to break apart. Houses and apartment along the shoreline were also attacked buy the tides and many of them were also lost. But, the wharves once again survived.

Redondo Beach Pleasure Pier

Redondo Beach, Feb. 27.—The City Trustees have issued a call for a meeting to be held Monday night at the City Hall, at which time it is expected they will pledge themselves to place the municipal pier at whatever location the voters shall decide it should be placed. This action was decided upon after the voters placed a request before the Board of Trustees saying that before voting on a bond issue of $121,000 they would like to know where the pier is to be, and to have some assurance that it will not be placed at an undesirable place. The question of the location of the pier will be decided by either a straw ballot or by petition to the Board of Trustees. At present the site most talked of is Pier No. 1, now owned by the Pacific Electric. The property can be can be purchased for $17,5000 and $5000 to remove an oil pipe line. A committee consisting of Trustees Thompson and Hembree, has been appointed by the board to conference with the Pacific Electric officials relative to the tentative proposition to purchase the pier. The company also desires to reserve concessions now on the pier. The committee is instructed to inform the company officials that the city will not buy the pier, but merely the approach to it, will not pay anything for removing the pipe line, and will not grant the company any concessions on the proposed pier, but will permit the company to retain its water pipe line for the bath house. —Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1915

Pacific Electric Has Offer for Redondo Beach

President Shoup of the Pacific Electric has sprung a surprise by materially reducing the price asked by his company for the approach to and the present structure at Pier No. 1. He told the City Trustees that Pier No. 1 and its approach is worth $30,000 to the Pacific Electric, but that the company is willing to sell for much less. Formerly the company proposed selling the property to the city for $17,500 plus $5000 for removing pipe lines now on the pier. The company also wished to retain rights of concessions on both sides of the pier for a certain distance out. Mr. Shoup said that the company would be willing to see the property to the city for its proposed municipal pier, and would eliminate the 45000 asked for removing pipe lines and would ask the right to retain concessions only on the north side of the pier as far as they now extend. A hint of possible suits on the part of the city to obtain quit-claim deeds to certain supposed tidelines was made when Trustee Brolaski said to Mr. Shoup that since the passage of the bill which gives Redondo Beach title to all tidelands in the city, the Pacific Electric could not claim right to any concessions on the old pier. To this Mr. Shoup replied that was a matter for his legal department to take up. —Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1915

Fierce Wind Pounds Pier — Redondo Beach in Grip of Wild Northwester

Redondo Beach, April 30.—A heavy windstorm swept down on the coast in this vicinity last night and at a late hour pier No. 1, owned by the Pacific Electric, is being battered to pieces by the waves, which have been lashed into a fury. By midnight more than fifty pilings had gone out and the pier was sagging under the onslaught of the storm and sea. The waves dashed clear over the structure… Pier No. 1 is twenty-five years old and in the last year or two has suffered considerably from the tides. No effort has been made to repair it because the Pacific Electric and the city endeavored to reach an agreement to build a pleasure pier on the site. All freight cars and other movable stuff was taken off by the railroad last night and only a fish derrick and the few sheds were left for the storm to work on. The pier was originally 1000 feet long and served as the passenger landing for steamers which made this city a port of call. More fish have been caught off this pier than any two others in Southern California. —Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1915

The Damage At Redondo

Redondo Beach, April 30.—Thousands of persons gathered along the ocean front today and watched late into the night as structure after structure fell before the terrific onslaught of giant combers whipped on by one of the worst storms in the history of Redondo Beach. While no adequate estimate of the property loss can be made at this hour as the storm shows no evidence of abating, the damage is enormous, running considerably over $150,000. The storm first showed its fury late tonight and the fierce gale, that has been blowing from the northwest for the past twenty-four hours, pounded the breakers so steadily that with the rising tide this afternoon Pier No. 1, owned by the Pacific Electric Company, already minus many pilings, began to give way, the huge timbers crumbling with terrific roars. By 4:30 o’clock p.m., the pier was practically a loss. It had been offered to the city for purchase at $17,500, the pipeline on it being valued at $5000. By 6 o’clock thousands of persons had gathered along the waterfront and watched the Lightning Racer, valued at $150,000, slowly crumble. Falling from a height of 100 feet the superstructure of the racer fell with a terrific crashing of timbers… —Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1915

This storm would signal the end of the wharf and later in the year  “Big Dutch” Kranz was awarded a city contract to finish the demolition of Wharf No. 1. Anglers would now turn their attention to Wharf No. 2, Wharf No. 3, and soon—a municipal pier.

Next — Redondo Wharf No. 2




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2 Responses to Redondo Wharf No. 1 (Santa Fe Wharf) — 1888-1915

  1. Douglas Thompson says:

    In your research, did you find any references to a sailors’ reading room, supposedly located in one of the buildings on Wharf 1?

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