Sugar Loaf, Santa Catalina Island

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Sugar Loaf, Santa Catalina Island
Climbing on any part of this property is strictly FORBIDDEN.
Santa Catalina Island Co.
Sugar Loaf, Santa Catalina Island, 1909
Destruction of Sugar Loaf,
Santa Catalina Island, March 1929

Sugar Loaf, Santa Catalina Island (Sugarloaf), is a survey station established by William E. Greenwell in 1856. Once the site of a large pinnacle rock historically accessed by a set of wooden stairs, Sugar Loaf Point marks the northern entrance to Avalon Harbor. The place name appears of the 1858 Report of the Superintendent of the US Coast Survey for the Year 1858 map from Pt. Sal to San Diego; then on the 1861 Report of the Superintendent of the US Coast Survey for the Year 1861, Map #20.

In 1917-1918 the inland portion of Sugar Loaf point was dynamited and rocks removed by the Santa Catalina Island Company, under the direction of William Wrigley, Jr. and new company manager, David M. Renton, to make way for the construction of the first Sugar Loaf Casino (1918-1928). Wrigley soon realized the building was too small to accommodate the growing visitation to the island, thus the first casino, Sugar Loaf Casino #1, Santa Catalina Island was demolished to make room for a grand Sugar Loaf Casino, Santa Catalina Island. The octagonal steel frame of the first dance pavilion was reassembled at Catalina Bird Park to make "the world's largest bird cage. As the walls of the new casino dwarfed the venerable Sugar Loaf rock, in March of 1929 the rock was blasted away to improve the view of the magnificent new casino building.

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In the News~

August 1, 1895 [LAH]: “Marine pyrotechnics at Catalina. Next Saturday night, one of the grandest displays ever witnessed. Sugarloaf in eruption. Brilliant illumination of Avalon harbor and incoming steamer Hermosa. You save fifty minutes time by taking Southern Pacific. Saturday three trains, Sunday two, other days one. Our timetable is in this paper.”

August 6, 1896 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Climbing up Sugar Loaf is another diversion. The company has built a flight of steps leading to the top, and anyone who wants to climb eighty-one steps can get a magnificent view.”

July 5, 1898 [LAH]: “Avalon, July 3. — Amid the hiss of rockets and the glare of Roman candles the steamer Hermosa was received on her first trip to the island since she was put on the Alaska run. The steamer brought over nearly 200 excursionists, and as soon as she entered the bay, from the top of Sugarloaf a rocket shot up, and was answered from the boat, and at the same time a number of bonfires and pans of red fire were lighted along the shore. As soon as the boat made fast to the wharf the people began to disembark and make for the hotels to secure their quarters, and the streets of Avalon presented the liveliest scene of the season...”

October 4, 1901 LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Trolling for abalones is a new form of sport inaugurated on the island. ‘Chappie’ is something of a wag and practical joker, and having been out hunting abalones a few days ago, suggested to J. Fry and Mr. Scott of Pomona that he could furnish them some exciting sport trolling for these shellfish. They bit, and Chappie took them out beyond Sugar Loaf and deftly managing to hook an abalone without observation, threw out the hook. In a short time it was hauled in, and with it a fine abalone. The gentlemen were delighted with their success, but with the next effort the hook was lost, Chappie having cut it from the line, and further sport was spoiled. The party came home regretfully in blissful ignorance that they had been guyed, but they heard of it later.”

February 15, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Thursday night some vandal visited the launch Catalina, anchored at its moorings near Sugar Loaf. A heavy hammer was used to break off or bend attachments, nuts and bolts were taken from their places and thrown overboard and a diamond drill was used to punch holes in pipes and tubes…”

May 23, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The largest excursion party that ever visited Santa Catalina Island is here today. It is of members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. They came over last evening, the Hermosa, Warrior and Falcon all being necessary to convey the throng. They arrived here at 9 P.M., amid a blaze of fireworks which extended all about the bay and to the top of Sugar Loaf.”

June 25, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Two magnificent paper nautilus shells were picked up at Catalina yesterday. J. E. Beeson, who had walked over to Pebbly Beach, found a perfect specimen there some six inches long. The other was discovered in the water, the nautilus navigating his ship near Sugar Loaf, by Chris Ringain. He captured the animal and has a fine shell 6-1/2 inches in length.”

August 10, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. A great school of whales passed up the island coast yesterday afternoon, spouting columns of spray into the air. One of the big creatures apparently broke away from the herd and came back this way, passing within a hundred yards of Sugar Loaf.”

August 21, 1904 [LAH]: “Avalon, Cal., Aug. 20. — Seven frolicsome young people, unmindful of consequences, crowded into a small rowboat yesterday afternoon and left Avalon with a trip to Banning beach in view. They had hardly rounded Sugarloaf mountain however, when the frail craft sprung a leak, and in a few seconds the boat was more than half under water. Four young ladies in the party became badly frightened, but kept their seats. The young men made an attempt to beach the boat, but were having poor success when one of their number waded to shore, pulling the boat with him. A more forlorn and dejected-appearing party than they presented when they tramped into Avalon has not been seen here this summer.”

June 10, 1905 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. On invitation of the Meteor Boat Company, a number of personal friends yesterday afternoon witnessed an exhibition of deep-sea diving. Herbert A. Young, who for several years has been plying the vocation of diving at Honolulu, is now here with his apparatus and he and the guests were taken out in the power glass-bottom boat Cleopatra, which was anchored off Sugar Loaf… Captain Clarence Jargstorff was master of ceremonies.”

March 31, 1909 [LAT]: “Avalon. In celebration of the announcement that Avalon is a closed port, the Santa Catalina Island Company gave a social and dance last evening at Eagle’s Hall. Upon Sugarloaf Island a large bonfire was built and all along the beach enthusiasm was manifested by displays of fireworks. A meeting of the committee appointed to represent the association was held here this afternoon in the office of the Meteor Boat Company. Judge Gibson, said: ‘Legally, the port of Avalon is closed for all time. Undoubtedly, the people in the near future will realize that their actions have not been in vain. The general tone of the town will be elevated and we anticipate that guests will see the utility of the new regime.’”

August 17, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “Apparently forgetting Sugar Loaf reef at the entrance to the bay, J. Chaffe, of Pasadena, struck these rocks last Wednesday night and stove a hole into the hull of his launch. Nothing serious happened to the party on board except that they got a little wet.”

September 4, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Several heavy blasts at the new hotel site near Sugar Loaf last week moved tons of rock and gravel. It is estimated that about 9000 cubic yards have yet to be moved before the site will be ready for the foundations of the new hotel building.”

September 18, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Approximately 7000 yards of rock and gravel remain to be removed to bring down to its proper level the site for the new Hotel Metropole, located near Sugar Loaf, on the north side of Avalon Bay… There is a possibility that the hotel may be completed for next season…”

November 27, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “An inspection of the work at Sugar Loaf Point indicates that a portion of the ground has now been brought to the required grade.”

March 19, 1918 [TI/Avalon]: “Another large lighter load of material for the St. Catherine Hotel was unloaded at the Sugar Loaf Point wharf last week, besides which there are daily arrivals of other material on the steamship Cabrillo.”

March 19, 1918 [TI/Avalon]: “A series of blasts on Friday afternoon, on the mountain side beyond the Tuna Club, furnished an abundance of rock and earth for widening the boulevard to Sugar Loaf and Descanso Canyon. Incidentally, the Moorish cottage on the crest of the ridge is now perilously near the edge of the bank.”