Moss Landing Pier

This is a follow-up to my post “What low tide reveals” and the story behind the lost Moss Landing Pier.

Low tide reveals old pier posts at Moss Landing beach

I spent the afternoon in Moss Landing last Thursday, starting with a lovely lunch at The Haute Enchilada with my friends Jean and Joselyn.

We stopped at La Boutique, then the Moss Landing Post Office to look at historical photographs.

Moss Landing's Unique Post Office

This post office is unique and the walls in areas above the post office boxes are full of past photos (and news articles) of the town.  We spotted this photo of the old pier.

This is one of the photos of the old Moss Landing pier, located inside the Moss Landing Post Office. Photo courtesy of Mr. Nathan Sawyer

We hear about challenges facing the U.S. Post Office in these changing times and our modern world…so maybe a look back at other purposes that small town post offices provide (as a mini-museum in the case of Moss Landing or as a modern-day information hub) will keep these facilities going.

Next stop, a walk to the Captain’s Inn Bed and Breakfast to meet the Captain’s wife, and co-owner Melanie Gideon.

The Captain’s Inn building was originally built in 1906 by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, and fully renovated by Yohn and Melanie Gideon.

Melanie, pictured here, responded to my original blog post to answer my curiosity about the pier post remains at the beach, and offered to show me photos of the old pier.

Unfortunately, we came at a busy time as she was checking in guests staying at the B&B.

I will have to come back to learn more —  Melanie is a wealth of information about Moss Landing!

The photograph below is one of several located at the Captain’s Inn lobby stairway,  and is from the viewpoint of a tall sailing ship.

The pier was quite active during the days when it was owned by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company.

Photo of Moss Landing Pier, Courtesy of Captain's Inn

It is interesting to learn that the big 1906 San Francisco earthquake caused damage to the town of Moss Landing, and the final blow to this old pier was also caused by another big Bay Area earthquake — the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

So the next time I go for a beach walk near the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) building, I will imagine how it must have looked with these tall sailing ships and steamships coming in to dock.

What Low Tide Reveals

I have walked on the beach behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) building in Moss Landing many times before.

Apparently, I have never walked there during low tide as I don’t remember, or haven’t noticed these items jutting out on the beach…

Or maybe the beach just looks different during this time of the day.  Upon closer look, they appear to be old wood pilings… from a long ago pier / dock?

They looked interesting as the sun was setting, and I took more pictures, using my phone camera.

The shot above captured a bird flying by…

From this angle, it had a sort of mysterious, Stonehenge feel about it…

And from this angle, with the dog passing by, it looks like what I thought they were, the remains of a place where once there was a pier or dock area.

If you stumble upon my blog and know what happened to the pier — if that is what it is — please comment.

UPDATE: Here are comments posted here as well as on the about page, on the lost pier.  Blogs are awesome!


Hi Jane:

Yes, there used to be a pier there — I remember it from before the MBARI buildings were built and Moss Landing consisted mainly of just the harbor and old cannery buildings.

I think people used to fish off it. I don’t remember ever walking on it, because it was gated for a long time, probably to prevent accidents. I have some film of low tide at Moss Landing too — I’ll post them on Local Nomad sometime soon.

FYI you can see photos and learn some Moss Landing history by simply walking into the Moss Landing post office — it’s a little mini museum!


from Melanie of the Captain’s Inn, posted on the “About” page.

Hi Jane,

I am writing in response to your curiously about the lost Moss Landing Pier.

The pier was originally put in place by the town’s namesake, Captain Charles Moss in the Mid-1800s. It was used by him for loading shipping for many years in the mid1800s, there were first tall sailing ships and later steamships.

Moss sold to the Pacific Coast Steamship Co in the late 1880s. They shipped from the pier for about 50 years.

This was followed by whaling and landing whales at the pier and its beach.

Then it became a fishing pier 1960s (you paid for access to use it) and then used by the marine research station starting in about 1980s. The harbor originally used it to hold its dredging pipes.

The pier was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and then further ripped to sea in the ealy 90s storms.

Sometimes the ML Labs still talks about replacing the pier. All that is left is the bottom of the piers and the shore side bulkhead, bulkhead belongs to the property owned by San Jose State Univ..

Watch the waves during the next really big storm, the pier location will be the quietest portion of the waters. If you come by the Captain’s Inn bed and breakfast mid-day, I can show you a few photos of the old pier with tall sailing ships docked.

Great information learned here…all through posting this on my blog!


Update to post on February 2015:

Looking back at this post, I think the area’s history of being part of the whaling industry is why it felt haunting to me.  My reference to one of the photos having a “Stonehenge” feel seemed odd, but now makes sense since Stonehenge was a burial ground in its early history.

Thank goodness that part of our history is over, and we now have a different view of whales, especially since humans hunting whales so dramatically reduced the number of some species.

Whalefest LogoThese days, the Monterey Bay Area — a fantastic place to watch migrating whales — celebrates the whale through an annual festival, held during the month of January.

There are also marine conservation films and documentaries shown in conjunction with “Whalefest”.

The year that my grandsons and I visited, there were films shown from the Blue Ocean Film Festival.   My post Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf gives an idea of activities enjoyed by kids, if you want to take your family to the next one.  You can also visit the Whalefest Facebook page for more information.