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An Early Plan of Pebble Beach

Rare early subdivision map showing a portion of Pebble Beach, California, the earliest map of Pebble Beach we have ever handled (all others were in the mid 1920s)., following Samuel Morse's acquisition and re-development of the area in 1919.

A note in the lower right corner indicates that map is "Section 1 of Amended Map of Pebble Beach." The map shows a portion of the 17 Mile Drive just across Stillwater Cove from the Pebble Beach Golf Course. The street names shown are now Cypress Driver, Cabrillo Road, Stevenson Drive and Padre Lane. This map provides a remarkable snapshot of the latter part of the early history of Pebble Beach's development by its original owner, the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, in the year before the company's planned development of the area failed because of a lack of construction funding, commencing a 10 year re-development period which ended with Samuel Morse's purchase of the entire peninsula from its original developer, the Pacific Improvement Co.

The present map is a remarkable artifact of the history of the development of Pebble Beach, providing an interesting snapshot of the failed development plans of the original owners for the area immediately northwest of the existing golf course.

The modern history of Pebble Beach begins in 1878, when the Pacific Improvement Co. (the development arm of the founders of the Southern Pacific Railroad, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, and Mark Hopkins) was formed, in order to acquire approximately 20,000 acres of land on the Monterey Peninsula, including a portion of the City of Monterey and extending southward to include what is how Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and the famed Golf Courses in the area. The Company planned to develop the peninsula in conjunction with the Southern Pacific's extension of rail service to Monterey, with the intention of creating an affluent resort and golf enclave on the Peninsula. In 1883, the Pacific Improvement Company utilized 700 Chinese Railroad Workers to construct a dam on the Carmel River, which included 23 miles of 12 inch iron pipe linking the dam to the recently constructed Del Monte Hotel.

The Company originally built the Del Monte Hotel in 1880 (and rebuilt the Hotel after fire destroyed it in 1887) as a means of promoting tourism to the area. In order to further promote the natural beauty of Hotel's location and surrounding real estate, the Company also laid out what is now known as 17-Mile Drive, a stretch of road that parallels Pebble Beach's Del Monte Forest. The Company initially paved this unique stretch of road from Monterey to a nearby scenic peninsula, in order to make a scenic drive for guests at the Hotel Del Monte from Monterey to the Hotel. Guests were driven past historic adobes, through wooded Pacific Grove and along the coastline, stopping for a picnic lunch before resuming the ride, up the hill along Pescadero Canyon, then back to the hotel. The trip and road were originally called the 18 Mile Drive, but the name was changed after the route was remeasured. The existing route was modified in the early years, but remains unchanged since the 1920s.

In 1909, the Pacific Improvement Co. announced plans for a real estate development and Golf Course along the 17 Mile Drive on the northern shore of Stillwater Cove, to be called Pebble Beach. Unfortunately, shortly after the start of construction, the company's financing deal failed, forcing the Company to return to its original plan, selling lots along the coast.

By 1915, the Pacific Improvement Co.'s vision for the area was languishing. The Del Monte's Gilded Age glamour had faded, and lot sales at another of the company's projects, known as Pebble Beach, were not meeting expectations. Samuel F.B. Morse was retained to oversee the company's holdings on the peninsula and find a buyer willing to pay $1.3 million for the peninsula.

Samuel F.B. Morse (1886-1969) was the great grandson of the inventor of the telegraph (Samuel Morris). Morse moved out to San Francisco, almost immediately after his graduation from Yale (where he was captain of the football team) in 1907. He became associated with the Crockers and after making a success of the Crocker-Hoffman Land and Water Company, which he managed, he was subsequently offered a position managing the Pacific Improvement Company in 1915. At the time, the heirs of the original owners of Southern Pacific (Stanford, Crocker, Hopkins, Huntington) had sold out the Railroad and were also interested in liquidating the Pacific Improvement Co., which had originally been the construction company for the railroad and had since become a holding company for many various concerns.

The liquidation became Morse's job and he expedited about 90 percent of that task in his first five years on the job. However, the remainder of the job dragged on until 1967, almost fifty years later. Morse's most triumphant personal deal was buying Pacific Improvement Co. land on the Monterey Peninsula himself. The company that he formed of it in 1919, Del Monte Properties, became his pet and very profitable project because he developed that land into tremendously valuable resort and private real estate (i.e. Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, etc.).

Morse scrapped Pebble Beach's existing development plans (which are reflected in this map), which called for small, crowded lots along the seafront, and convinced his employer to buy back all of the parcels. (Pacific Improvement succeeded in reacquiring all of the lots but one, whose owner refused to sell.) Morse's envisioned larger home sites set back from the beach and overlook a golf course, which would follow along the bluffs above Stillwater Cove.

Morse therefore enlisted two local men, neither of whom was a course designer, to build the Pebble Beach Golf Links, Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. Neville was a Pebble Beach real estate salesman for Pacific Improvement Co and an avid golfer, who had won the first California State Amateur tournament at the Del Monte course in 1916. Grant, a prominent San Franciscan, had been an amateur golfer in Great Britain, where he had studied the classic links courses. Along with Morse, the two designed the remainder of the course.

Shortly after the Pebble Beach Golf Links opened in 1919, Morse expanded the 18th hole into a par 5 that stretched along the curved line of Stillwater Cove. In the late 1990s, the Pebble Beach Co. succeeded in purchasing the parcel of land from the family of the owner who had refused to sell to Pacific Improvement, and the resort enlisted Jack Nicklaus to build a new par-3 fifth hole on the clifftop site. Aside from these changes, the layout Neville and Grant designed is virtually the same one played today.

In the same year as the Golf Links and Lodge at Pebble Beach opened, Morse himself purchased the 18,000 acres that included Pebble Beach, the Hotel Del Monte, and the Del Monte Forest.