Tunitas Creek

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Tunitas Creek at its outflow across Tunitas Beach. Faint traces of the old Ocean Shore Railroad can be seen at top left center, between the road and shoreline. Gordon's Chute was along the cliffs at upper left.
Gordon's Chute, 1878

Tunitas Creek is a 6.6-mile-long (10.6 km)[1] stream in San Mateo County, California.[2] Tunitas is Spanish for "little prickly pears".

An all-weather paved county road, Tunitas Creek Road, follows the creek from its source at 1,860 feet (570 m) on Kings Mountain in the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean at Tunitas Beach.


The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolà expedition, traveled along the coast on its way north, camping for three days near today's San Gregorio, October 24–26, 1769. On the return journey to San Diego, the party camped near Half Moon Bay on November 16, and at Tunitas Creek on November 17. Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi noted in his diary, "This morning broke very cloudy, and as soon as we started on our way it began to rain, and in the whole three leagues (about 7.8 miles (12.6 km)) that we traveled it was falling on us. We halted on the banks of a deep arroyo."[3]

The name "Arroyo de Las Tunitas" appears on the diseños (claim maps) of both Rancho San Gregorio (1839) and Rancho Cañada Verde (1838) because it was part of the boundary between them.[4]

The cliffs just north of the Tunitas Creek outflow were the site of "Gordon's Chute", a ramp for sliding farm goods from the top of the cliffs to ships anchored in the rolling surf below. Gordon's Chute, named for its builder, local resident Alexander Gordon, was constructed in 1872 and lasted until 1885, when a storm blew it away.[5] A period drawing of the chute is here, and eyebolts for the chute can still be found in the cliff-face.[5]


Coordinates: 37°21′24″N 122°23′59″W / 37.3566091°N 122.3996964°W / 37.3566091; -122.3996964[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 15, 2011
  2. ^ USGS, 09-20-07
  3. ^ Bolton, Herbert E. (1927). Fray Juan Crespi: Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast, 1769-1774. HathiTrust Digital Library. pp. 237–243. Retrieved April 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ Gudde, Erwin G. (1949). California Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. C-347. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  5. ^ a b Gordon's Chute
  6. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tunitas Creek

External links[edit]