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Salty history at Point Lobos; new interpretive center in 1851 cabin.

"Strange, introverted, and storm-twisted beauty" So poet Robinson Jeffers described Point Lobos. For Jeffers and for many visitors today, the promontory jutting into the Pacific south of Carmel represents nature at its most magnificent. But Point Lobos has a salty and cosmopolitan human history, too-recalled in a new interpretive center, Whaler's Cabin.

A 140-year-old cabin tells tales of fishermen and Foolish Wives

The cabin that sits at Whaler's Cove was built nearly 140 years ago, making it one of the oldest Chinese frame buildings in California. Over the last three years, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Point Lobos Natural History Association have restored the cabin and filled it with exhibits.

These include Chinese artifacts from the cabin's earliest years. Examplesof whalebone art, and an iron try-pot (which sits outside) date from the 1860s, when whalers from the Azores established the Portuguese Whaling Company.

Much space is devoted to later maritime industry Photographs, diving boots and helmet, and a model boat portray the work of Japanese marine biologist Gennosuke Kodani, who in 1896 headquartered his abalone fishing business at Point Lobos. Nearly all the harvest was exported to Japan, as Americans had no taste for the marine gastropod. Our belated discovery of abalone is depicted in the exhibit on Pop Ernest Doelter, the Cannery Row restaurateur who introduced the delicacy to American gourmands.

Other displays highlight Point Lobos' dairying days-and its frequent use as a movie set, beginning with Erich von Stroheim's 1921 production Foolish Wives.

Elsewhere: hikes and controversy

Of course you'll want to see the rest of Point Lobos State Reserve. Get a map (50 cents) at the entrance or at the information station at the Sea Lion Point parking lot. From the cabin, you can walk to Cannery Point (named for Kodani's cannery), or take the trail to Whaler's Knoll. From either point or knoll you can look east to see land at the center of a current debate. The private property across Highway I from the reserve is currently zoned for commercial use. Proposals for resort developments have been discussed in the past and seem likely to resurface in the near future. However, some area residents would rather see all or part of the land purchased as public open space.

To reach Point Lobos from Carmel, take State 1 four miles south. Reserve hours are 9 to 5 daily In summer, parking lots fill up frequently, but October should see fewer crowds.

Once inside the reserve, follow the signs to Whaler's Cove. Whaler's Cabin is normally open from noon to five daily-but it's smart to call the reserve at (408) 6244909 to confirm this schedule.

Dog owners take note: the reserve no longer allows you to bring your pet.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Whaler's Cabin
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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