John Vonderlin: Take me to the"Holy Well?"


Story from John Vonderlin

Email John (

Hi June,
   This little description of one of the Pescadero region’s
least known oddities of the mystical variety, “The Holy Well,”
 is excerpted from  a very futuristic article that appeared in
the April 12th, 1896 issue of “The San Francisco Call,” The
article was entitled “From The Bowels of The Earth,” and was
about well-boring, for geothermal power, for oil, for the “Center of
the Earth,” (280 years at standard rate). Mr. Hoagland, a
Red Adair kind of figure in the of well-boring industry, is quoted
extensively about his career. Amongst his stories was this one:
“In   San   Mateo   County,”   said   Mr.   Hoag – 
land,   “I   drilled   a   well   over   1000   feet   in
depth,   and   struck   salt   water.   Now   this
was   700   feet   above   sea-level   and   about
eight   or   ten   miles   from   the   coast,   on   Tar
Creek,   a   tributary   to   the   Pescadero.   We
were   aiming   for   oil   at   the   time.   The   most
curious   part   of   the   outcome   was   that   the
salt   water   flowed   every   seventh   day.
Somebody   styled   it   the   Holy   Well,   as
there   was   no   accounting   for   the   phe – 
   Visiting Tar Creek has been on my list for a while,
but as friends say you usually can’t see the seepages
it derives its name from, it hasn’t risen close enough
to the top for me to make the hike. I’m thinking a picture of
the capped  “Holy Well,” just might make it worth it.
Enjoy. John
Caption for the image below reads: Leakage from the Seas Is Converted into Steam at the Root of the Volcano

John Vonderlin Updates us on Neptune's Vomitoriums

“Also known as the Marine Debris Update:”

Story by John Vonderlin
Email John (benloudman@sbcglobal. net)


Hi June,
   Though  Neptune’s Vomitorium at Invisible Beach is starting to clear of sand slowly, (Only the top of the head of the “fish rock” that guards its mouth had been above the sand until now) its production of non-buoyant debris is still minimal. There have been a few interesting things I’ve envountered over the sparse months though that I’d like to share.
   The vomitorium that’s located at the point your car might land if you get airborne while drunk and speeding west on Pescadero Rd. on a foggy night  and don’t see the STOP sign on Highway 1, was active last month. It gifted me with a record number of eight Aerobie Rings in one visit and a few goggles, swim fins, tire parts, and fishing line balls, but has been quiet lately.
   Speaking of fishing line balls here is a picture of the seven trash cans of them I eventually have to tie onto the “World’s Largest Fishing Line Ball.” Can’t imagine why I don’t get to it.
   The thing  I’m holding  in the attached picture that looks like a hairy valentine heart raxakumin-052
is probably from the gills of something, but maybe it is a part of some filter feeder’s straining system. I don’t know,  as I’ve never seen one before and I’m not sure who might know what it is. I’ll work on it eventually. Parts seem to be a lot harder to identify then species. Kind of like Fast Food. Enjoy. John

19th Century: Gotta A Tooth Ache?

From theW “Coastside Advocate”

“Dr. W. J. Marsh, the popular Santa Cruz dentist arrived in town with his estimable lady and the junior Marsh, Monday. He opened parlors two doors south of Levy’s store, where he will remain fro a few days. The genial doctor is a favorite here, having made previous visits through this section, when he always gave satisfaction.


From the “Coastside Advocate”

“Dr. Marsh, the dentist, who is associated with Dr. O. L. Gordon of Santa Cruz, and who has made regular semi-annual trips through this section for the past four years, is established in town for the next week only. His stay is thus necessarily limited on account of southern engagements previously contracted.”

The South Coast's "Indiana Jones" Solves A Tunnel Mystery

If I were lost on the South Coast, I would want to be with John Vonderlin!

The Missing Tunnel

By John Vonderlin

Email John (

Hi June,

Some time ago I posted about my search for a mysterious tunnel just up the hill from the north parking lot at Pescadero Beach. Several oldtimers talked of visiting it in their youth and related its possible function. Despite clear directions I had been unable to find it.

Then by examining the 1972 pictures on California Coastal Records Project (CCR), I was able to see a path to an area that corresponding to the alleged location. Walking around the area, I found a now barely visible, slanted, ledge-like feature up the slope to a slight anomaly in the hillside that I assumed had been a graded dirt road leading to where the mystery tunnel had been.

When one of your readers, Bobbi Pimentel, read that posting, she contacted me, and in an email, validated my theory and provided other interesting information.

Bobbi, a member of one of Pescadero’s oldest families, remembered visiting the tunnel as a child with her father after WWII.

She helped me solve the mystery of the tunnel. Now maybe someone will come forward with a photo of it before it was filled, and/or provide firsthand information on the other two cliffside tunnels just north of there. Then my curiosity about the tunnels will be fully satisfied.

Here’s an excerpt from my email to Mrs. Pimentel and her reply. The only thing better then mysteries is solving them. Thanks to both of you for helping me in finding the answers to this one. Enjoy. John

John Vonderlin (JV): Were you in the tunnel just up the hill from what is now the parking lot of north Pescadero Beach? Was it where I thought? Do remember how deep it was? The longest serving ranger in the area (about 25 years) knew nothing of it. He was familiar with the next one north. That’s the one I climbed in, the one in a cliff face above the ocean. The other cliff face observation tunnel I’ve written about, the one the Pranksters were in, just north of Pomponio, was well visited until the 1970s when it was plugged and filled for safety reasons apparently.

Bobbi Pimentel (BP): Yes, the cave that I remember most is the one above the parking lot…It has brush and weeds growing so thickly around it that for several years, it looked unaccessible. Since I was so young when Dad took me to these places, I really can’t judge length, but a guesstimate would be 40’…the brush on the ocean side kept the tunnel out of view. It was rumored that Japanese subs were traveling the coast. There were guns and ammunition stored there as well as dynamite. (My Dad worked on the road department during the war, worked for the Federal Government (as a maintenance man) and did some other work for them…he used explosives on a regular basis. He went into farming for a few years and in the early ’50’s worked for the County of San Mateo where he was using explosives again…