Plaskett Creek Campground Is Popular Vacation Spot
By Mabel Plaskett
Long before the coast highway was dreamed of the pioneer Plaskett family followed the old Indian trails from Jolon, crossing the Nacimiento River at the McKern place, over the Santa Lucia mountains past Chalk Peak, down the steep slopes to an area of wilderness, a wide level stretch of land open to the sea and called it Pacific Valley. It is not really a valley of course. Geologists call it a wave-cut terrace.
They cleared the land, built homes, planted orchards and crops, reared families and lived in peace and plenty until selling out to Hearst in 1923. Later the land was acquired by the United States Army and in 1957 was turned over to the Las Padres National Forest for recreational use. Up to this time cattle had grazed on the grounds, the old orchard died out, the old homes torn down and a new order of living prevailed. Cars rushed past, over the new highway and there was an ever increasing need for camp sites and parking places.
To fill this need the United States Forestry planned a series of campgrounds along the coast and in the winter of 1957 and 1958 Plaskett Creek Campground was laid out and a systematic planting of Monterey Pine and Monterey Cypress was made.
Alex Campbell of King City was district ranger and he sent Ezra Braden to Pacific Valley as foreman in charge of construction of the new camp and he did a wonderful job. Forty-four camp sites were laid out, two water storage tanks of 10,000 gallons each were put up and two rest stations built, completely equipped with modern facilities and the camp opened in June 1958 with Sam Murray as camp manager.
This campground proved popular from the first and on weekends resemble a tent or trailer city. At the entrance a map made by Mrs. Ez Braden, marks the location of each camp with directions to it. Stoves and running water are furnished each camp. Campers must furnish their own wood.
In 1960 Sam Murray left on account of ill health and Ralph Gould, with his family, came from Arroyo Seco to take charge of Plaskett Creek campground and under his able management the camp has become more popular each year.
In May, 1961 the first pay system was started and Ralph collected close to $3,000 during the season. It is interesting to know that 25 percent of all such money taken goes to schools and road upkeep and 75 percent goes back into recreation use. Gould states that in the last two years 50,000 people have made use of the various camps and picnic areas.
In 1962 the first customer was Jim Baker of San Jose. In 1963 it was O. R. Turner of San Leandro. Already people have written in for reservations as far away as Labor Day.
Boy Scout troops find the camp a good place to come to and mineral and rock clubs make it headquarters as Jade Cove is quite near. Last year the Totem Trailers camped here. They consist of 12 trailers each owner has one piece of totem pole and the first one to the camp starts building the pole and each one adds his totem piece until a colorful totem pole marks their camp location. These Totem Trailers carry rock hounds and fishermen from San Jose.
Another interesting episode was the arrival of four bus loads of garden club members last year who were met by District Ranger Campbell, his assistant Bob Mace and fire patrol officer Jack Curran, who served them coffee and rolls and showed them around, after which Mace and Curran accompanied them as far as Big Sur, pointing out the places of interest along the coast.
The Forestry personnel is noted for such courtesy.
Now a new season is at hand as the campground opens and this year will probably bring more campers than ever as the weary city dwellers seek a brief release from the frustrations of their hurried way of life.
To keep up with the growing demand for outdoor living, a new campground is planned on the flats south of Willow Creek up in the mountains several miles from the sea. This is on the old Lonny Plaskett place now known as Rosenberg Flats. This camp site will be higher and free of summer fog and no doubt will appeal to many.
Kirk Creek camp four miles north of Plaskett Creek is now complete with 33 camp sites. There are three picnic areas available also, at Mill Creek, San Dollar and Willow Creek. Then there are three group areas on the south end of the main Plaskett Creek Campground each one will accommodate 50 people. These must be reserved by contacting District Ranger Alex Campbell at King City
The daily charge at Plaskett Creek is $1 and people are glad to pay it. Campers are limited to seven consecutive nights.
Ed Culver, the mail man, comes every day with milk, bread and sundry supplies and Pacific Valley Center, a store, café and gas station is only a couple of miles to the north.
With all these conveniences the camper is free to hike, or fish or hunt for jade or just sit and breathe deeply of the fresh sea air and let the calm rhythm of the waves bring peace to his soul.
Mabel Sans Plaskett was born in Coralitas near Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountain area of California. Her father Edward Robert Sans ran a saw mill near Pacific Valley, along the Nacimiento – Ferguson road to the coast at Highway One. It was there she met Edward Abbott Plaskett, her husband. Mabel wrote about the coast and the pioneers of the 19th and 20th Centuries.