Thursday, November 20, 2008
Standing on a patio at Spanish Bay today, listening to bagpipes serenade a sunset over the Pacific, it's hard to imagine this as an industrial area. But it was. For more than seven decades, millions of tons of gleaming white sand were hauled off the beach west of 17 Mile Drive and taken to plants to make glass for windows, jars, stucco, and ceramics. The sand mining started circa 1900 and grew into an industry large enough to be compared to the booming sardine canneries in Monterey in the 1930s and '40s. Two processing and bagging plants off what is now Congress Road turned out a trainload of cleaned sand each day. Del Monte Properties Company made huge profits from the operation, enough to carry the company through the Depression. The plants closed in 1973, after the state enacted environmental laws to restrict the waste that can be dumped into the ocean.