John Vonderlin: Who Came Up with the Carrier Pigeon Point? I want to know…

Story by John Vonderlin

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I had mentioned in an earlier posting that somebody, somewhere, had written that somebody had thought that the name for Pigeon Point might not originate from the wreck of the Carrier Pigeon on the Point in 1853. Well, I haven’t found the vague, so-called source of my mentioning again, a source which is contrary to all other sources I’ve seen.

 Without dismissing the outlier entirely, here is a probable timeline for the evolution of the name, taken from the newspapers of the time.  Even more interesting, the seeming point of change to its modern form, Pigeon Point, may have occurred in just one day.  To clear up this last sentence I should mention that the papers initially referred to it as Carrier Pigeon Point, and then shortened it to Pigeon Point. Here’s what I found in the Newspaper Archives, all from “The Daily Alta.”

When I used “Pigeon Point,” as a search term in the Newspaper Archive, I got 700 hits. Using the “Advanced Feature,” I restricted the Search from 1849, the earliest issues, to 1857, four years after the wrecking of the Carrier Pigeon. There were a more manageable 15 hits. Of those, the earliest were in 1853, after the Carrier Pigeon ran aground, on June 6th. There was ones on November 23rd and December 10th of that year. Both were in a regular feature called “Shipping Intelligence.” It details the comings and goings of ships, and what and how much they carry, and for and to whom. Both include the term “Carrier Pigeon Point” as a location spot for one ship reporting another ship’s location. That continues in “Shipping Intelligence” reports several times in 1855. On June 11th, there is a “Shipping Intelligence” report that offers both Carrier Pigeon Point and Pigeon Point in different sightings reported.

On the next day, June 12th, 1855 the “Warning To Navigators,” letter you previously posted, was printed in “The Daily Alta.” (Steeple Rock posting) There is never a use of Carrier Pigeon Point again, only Pigeon Point, at least in the old newspapers. 

After this evidence, to get me to believe pigeons had anything to do with the Point’s name will take some real good proof.  Enjoy. John

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