Quarry: Santa Cruz Island

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Quarry: Santa Cruz Island


Fry's Harbor (1927-1930) In the late 1920s under the Caire ownership of the island, Fry’s Harbor was chosen as the site of a large quarry operation to provide stone for the construction of the Santa Barbara Breakwater financed by Major Max Fleischmann. The quarry was operated by Merritt-Chapman and Scott, a New York based firm. The quarried rocks were towed across the channel on large barges. The first pay stone was placed in the breakwater in 1927, and by 1930 the operations were completed and the facility abandoned. Today local fishermen report a sunken rock barge at 100 fathoms off Fry's Harbor.

A Brief History of the Fry’s Harbor Quarry, 1928-1929 Santa Cruz Island, California

In the News~

June 15, 1928 [SBMP]: “In an effort to complete the Santa Barbara breakwater by Merritt, Chapman & Scott, breakwater comtractors will double the crew of men working in the stone quarry on Santa Cruz Island and will add another large tug, the Homer, to the towing equipment. The tug A. E. Williams, at present in use for towing the loaded stone barges from the island to Santa Barbara harbor, and the Homer, together will work a total of 27 hours every day. This means that their time will overlap, both tugs being in use part of the time and at leas one tug every hour of the day. About 30 additional men will be employed for the quarry, and if they can get the rock out fast enough the tugs will each put in 18 hours out of the 24, thus making a total of 26 towing hours a day. This information was given George B. Sullivan, secretary of the harbor commission, yesterday afternoon by G. R. Scofield, vice-president and general manager of Merritt, Chapman & Scott company. He said that by adding to the men in the quarry and increasing the towing forces greater speed can be made. The company will take advantage of the good weather and favorable tidal conditions to speed up the work this summer. It is believed that the work can be finished by fall, instead of next spring, as was formerly estimated. Even with the present facilities the dumping of stone is ahead of schedule mapped out, it was revealed recently when the harbor commission approved a claim for stone placed on the breakwater during the month of May.”


July 21, 1928 [SBMP]: “Donation of another $250,000 by Major Max Fleischmann to the Santa Barbara breakwater construction, announced yesterday, assures the building of at least 600 more feet than is provided for in the present contract. The work now in progress will give the city something over 1100 feet of breakwater, it is now generally agreed. The addition of 600 feet more, with the funds just donated by the Major, will supply a breakwater approximately 1800 feet in length and assure the city of a harbor adequate to protect vessels from southeasters during the winter storms, and thus make it useable all the year round by owners of vessels. The additional work will be built on the east end of the work now in progress, as soon as the present contract is completed. The construction will be by Merritt, Chapman & Scott, the contractors on the present work. The added construction will give the city a harbor costing $650,000, for which the citizens will have paid but $200,000. Major Fleischmann having already matched the original $200,000 voted by the tax payers for the work. With the wharf now being rebuilt byy Major Fleischmann, Dwight Murphy and associates, and plans already made for the construction of a home for the Santa Barbara Yacht Club on the wharf, Santa Barbara will have a harbor when all the work is completed, that will be the equal for pleasure craft of anything in the United States.”


July 10, 1928 [SBMP]: “John Gilbert, construction engineer on the Atlantic coast for Merritt, Chapman & Scott, breakwater contractors, yesterday made an inspection of the Santa Barbara breakwater in company with G. R. Scofield, vice president and general manager. Mr. Gilbert approved the design and location of the breakwater, but confirmed statements of other engineers that to be really effective it must extend at least 2000 feet. The visiting engineer also inspected the quarry on Santa Cruz Island where workmen are preparing to set off another blast of dynamite to secure more rock. The blast will be ‘shot’ tomorrow by Frank Snell, representative of a powder company.”


September 10, 1928 [ODC]: “A hydroplane inspection of Santa Cruz Island was made Friday by Frederick Law Olmstead, famous landscape authority selected by the State of California to pass upon the desirability of the various park sites proposed by the different localities as desirable to be included in the purchases to be made from the proposed bond issue of $6,000,000 to be voted on at the coming election… The party… turned south, skirting the north side of Santa Cruz, passing the breakwater quarry, which has not disfigured the landscape, and tobogganed into Pelican Bay, where they found but one yacht and the tug from the quarry with 75 gallons of Richfield aviation gasoline, which was poured into the hydroplane’s nearly empty tanks. After eating lunch, the tug towed the hydroplane out of the bay at 2:45, and the party took off into the air after a few a few hard bumps on the choppy sea that made the plane boom like a huge bass drum…”


September 10, 1928 [ODC]: “A hydroplane inspection of Santa Cruz Island was made Friday by Frederick Law Olmstead, famous landscape authority selected by the State of California to pass upon the desirability of the various park sites proposed by the different localities as desirable to be included in the purchases to be made from the proposed bond issue of $6,000,000 to be voted on at the coming election… The party… turned south, skirting the north side of Santa Cruz, passing the breakwater quarry, which has not disfigured the landscape, and tobogganed into Pelican Bay, where they found but one yacht and the tug from the quarry with 75 gallons of Richfield aviation gasoline, which was poured into the hydroplane’s nearly empty tanks. After eating lunch, the tug towed the hydroplane out of the bay at 2:45, and the party took off into the air after a few a few hard bumps on the choppy sea that made the plane boom like a huge bass drum…”