Blue Bank, Santa Cruz Island

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Blue Banks Potrero looking south showing steep character of the territory and signs of limestone formation in the washes.
Santa Cruz Island, Symmes, 1922

Blue Bank, Santa Cruz Island (Blue Banks), is located directly to the west of Valley Anchorage on the island’s south side. Its name is derived from the striking blue color of the exposed rock face. Although the beach at Blue Bank is accessible from the island only by foot, for many years fishermen lived at the site gaining access by boat. The pastureland of the Blue Bank area was unsurveyed and used for sheep during the Caire era.

In the News~

February 1, 1916 [SBDN]: “Two men, one of them Peter Kruz and the other an unidentified Italian crawfisher, are believed to have been killed in a landslide which destroyed a crawfishers’ camp at Blue Bank, on the south side of Santa Cruz Island. The time of the camp’s destruction cannot be placed, but is believed to have occurred some time during the recent storms. The camp, which was occupied by Kruz and his companion, was completely wiped out by the slide. According to a report brought in this morning by Captain Frank Maglio of the boat Eagle, the Italians who were in camp cannot be found. Maglio went to the camp early this morning to collect the catch of the crawfish, which the Italians usually had waiting there for him. He found that the bank under which the crawfishers’ camp once stood had fallen into the ocean and that the skiff which the fishermen had used to tend their trap was filled with mud and rocks from the slide. No amount of shouting in the neighborhood of the camp succeeded in getting a response from the men who had occupied the camp. Maglio came to Santa Barbara with all possible speed and reported the matter to the coroner. Shortly before noon a search party composed of friends of the lost crawfishers and men who know the islands thoroughly, set out for Blue Bank. This boat is expected to return with definite news of the men’s fate this evening. This morning Captain Maglio was prevented from landing and searching the island because of a heavy wind. He had no skiff with his powerboat. There are yet many chances that the missing crawfishers may still be alive and well on some other part of the island. They may have realized that their camp was unsafe before the slide occurred and have tramped to some other fishing camp on the island or to the main ranch house on the island. However, reports from the island are that the last storm there was severe and under the best of conditions the lost fishermen must have suffered privations for a day or two.”

February 2, 1916 [SBMP]: “Two fishermen die in slide on island. Peter Cruz and Chris Gunderson meet disaster in crawfish camp. Frank Magglio, joint owner with the Larcos of the powerboat Eagle, came over from Santa Cruz Island yesterday afternoon after finding at Blue Bank on the south shore of the island, the bodies of two fishermen named Peter Cruz and Chris Gunderson, buried in the sand in a landslide that had occurred during the past few days. Magglio first suspected disaster for the two men who had a crawfish camp on the beach at this point, last Monday, when he called there with his boat to take their catch, as was his habit at intervals, and to bring it, with others, to the mainland for Larco and Company. When he approached the beach, he gave his usual whistle signal to notify the fishermen to bring their fish to the water’s edge, and there was no response. He also noticed the disappearance of the two tents that the men had been using, one to cook and eat in, and the other for sleeping. Futher, Magglio saw on the beach, half-filled with sand, the skiff that the two men used in their daily toil, and more significant than all else, evidence of an immense landslide on the beach. It looked to Magglio as though the landslide had engulfed the fishermen’s camp, completely burying the two men. Magglio found it impossible to land, with the turbulent sea that was running at the time, so he could do nothing but come across the channel with his load of crawfish and his story of probable disaster to the two luckless fishermen…He told his fears to Coroner Ruiz and the Larcos, and made arrangements to return to the islands yesterday morning for a further investigation in this matter, and with reinforcements to aid him in a long and hard search. if such should be needed. Magglio set out in his boat for Blue Bank at 4 o’clock in the morning, and within a short time after he and his men landed at Blue Bank and commenced their work digging in the huge pile of sand that had been displaced by the floods, they discovered the two tents of the fishermen’s camp and the bodies of the two men buried under the immense weight of the landslide. Magglio returned to the mainland again to report the matter to Coroner Ruiz… Cruz has a brother in Tacoma, and Gunderson is understood to have relatives at San Pedro…”

February 3, 1916 [SBMP]: “The bodies of Peter Cruz and Chris Gunderson, the two fishermen who were killed in a landslide at Blue Bank, on the south shore of Santa Cruz Island, last Monday, were brought over to the mainland yesterday afternoon. The expedition of recovery was made up of Stephen Valenzuela, who had been deputized by Coroner Ruiz to act in his place in this case; Frank Magglio, skipper of the powerboat Eagle, in which the party crossed the channel; Chris Holland of L. E. Gagnier’s force of undertakers; and the mate of the Eagle. The bodies which had been discovered last Tuesday by Captain Magglio, were brought to this side of the channel in the Eagle, arriving at 5 P.M…”

February 4, 1916 [SBMP]: “Coroner Ruiz held an inquest yesterday on the bodies of Peter Cruz and Christian Gunderson, the two fishermen who lost their lives at their fishing camp at Blue Bank, on the south shore of Santa Cruz Island, last Sunday, by being buried in a landslide… A verdict of accidental death was returned by the jury...”

August 21, 1917 [SCICo]: “…Since August 1st four trips have been made to Coches Prietos; 3 trips to Willows; 1 to Blue Bank; 5 trips to Laguna; 2 trips to Campo Johnson — all from the Main Ranch. Mr. F. F. Caire made 2 of these trips and the Superintendent several, so it looks as though it were going to be rather difficult to catch anyone in the act [of poaching].”

September 4, 1917 [SCICo]: “On September 3rd we gave notice on Ramon Romo et al at Hazard; Rosaline Vasquez et al at Fry’s Harbor; and Frank Nidever at Orizaba. What is the next move? We will serve Willows, Coches Prietos and Blue Banks on September 4th and Middle Banks, Yellowbanks and San Pedro Point on the 5th.”

September 15, 1917 [SCICo]: “We have made arrangements with Larsen at Blue Bank to pay a rental of $3.50 per month during the crawfish season.”

April 1, 1918 the island superintendent reported his assistant destroyed two shacks found at Blue Bank.

July 22, 1919 [SCICo]: “We have moved the coludos [undocked sheep] from the Matanza to Blue Bank as the weather is so warm and the flies so numerous that we are afraid to castrate at this time... There are several large areas that could be surveyed, such as Matanza, Blue Bank...”

November 14, 1925 [SBMP]: “The Santa Cruz Island Company owned by the Caire estate, yesterday brought suit in the superior court to eject seven individuals from the island who are alleged to have established fishing camps at Yellow Banks, Blue Banks, and the Willows, without permission of the owners. The company claims to have been damaged to the extent of $1500 by the maintenance of fishing camps by the seven persons who are named in the complaint as Charles Erickson, ...”GET REST—need better copy

June 14, 1933 [SBMP]: “The body of William Schultz, hermit-fisherman known to his friends as the jovial Dutch, was brought to the mainland which he had seldom visited in his 20 years as a craw fisherman on Santa Cruz Island, last evening aboard the Larco Brothers boat, the California. It is believed that Schultz met death by accidental drowning when his skiff capsized near the south end of the island. Missing since May 23, the finding of Schultz’ body last night by fishermen on the south end of Santa Cruz Island near his small cabin on Blue Banks ended a relentless search of nearly three weeks… There are fifteen men living on Santa Cruz Island and earning their livelihood by fishing,..”

November 24, 1981 [SBNP]: “Two Santa Barbara men and an Ojai man were rescued at Santa Cruz Island by the Coast Guard this morning after their 38-foot fishing vessel [Vananetta] ran aground last night during heavy fog... The three men were stranded overnight at Blue Banks Anchorage...” The crew was rescued from shore by the Coast Guard cutter, Point Judith.