Growing up OC – the sand dunes that dissapeared


Long ago, in an OC far far away, we used to park the car on the side of Beach Blvd or Brookhurst, and walk down to the beach.  It was difficult because of the sand dunes.  Once we made it to the beach we had to be careful about getting tar on our feet from the oil rigs all along the coast.  Sometimes we parked near the “smokestacks” but more often I think it was Brookhurst.  The sand dunes were the stereotypical drifts of sand with a rickety rail fence running through, across and around them.  The sand drifted into the street and grain by grain found its way back to the beach.

The image below is of Coast Highway at the Edison Plant (“the smokestacks”) on the corner of PCH and Newland in 1972, the year we moved to the OC.  In this picture, the sand dunes have sea grass on top of them.  They are the grassy area between the road and the asphalt drive along the beach.  It was difficult to trudge over them because the sand was loose and got into your shoes or under you feet if you wore flip flops.  I nicked this picture from Space Age City’s page on the Talbert Gap, a page dedicated to that area at the end of the Santa Ana River.  The little house on the beach is the ranger station at the entrance of the State Beach.  Click on the image for a larger picture.

The next picture is a different angle but the same location some 30 years later.  You can see how much the area has changed.  PCH has gone from a 2-lane road to a 4-lane divided highway.  The sand dunes are gone, replaced by a larger road inside the State Beach and of course more parking to accomodate all the beach-goers.  You’ll note the trailer parks are in both images.  Heck, even in paradise you gotta have trailer parks.  At least we don’t have tornadoes right?



5 thoughts on “Growing up OC – the sand dunes that dissapeared

  1. I remember crossing PCH at Brookhurst. I also remember crossing PCH in the middle of the “block”. I was afrad of the cars. We had our beach stuff with us too. This was the first place I saw a naked butt of a guy. Surfers have no modisty sometimes.

  2. One more thing…The PBS show Things that aren’t there and the sequel More Things that Aren’t There is hosted by Ralph Story. They were on KCET back to back this weekend. If you don’t know Ralph, he was a news caster in the LA area for many, many years but now he isn’t there anymore either.

  3. One more thing…Imagine, if you will, a light blue Ford station wagon with the paneling on the sides, no kid seats but seat belts were a must, new fangled AM/FM radio driving to the beach. Two blond kids, one curly and one straight hair, red tennies, wind blown, crossing PCH holding Mom’s hand. Oh, the care free days of summer in California.

  4. Yes, those tennies were Vans, and we had the bag of sand toys, towels, and maybe we wore a shirt, haha. I remember it was such a big deal, we had to shake our feet off before getting into the car, but the sand still stuck everywhere and if you got lucky you could shower in Mom & Dad’s bathroom! :-)

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