Ocean Beach Tides Uncover Bygone Debris At Rivera & Great Highway

Ocean Beach Tides Uncover Bygone Debris At Rivera & Great HighwayThe tides have recently revealed an older set of debris on Ocean Beach. (Fiona Lee/Hoodline)
Fiona Lee
Published on March 30, 2016

There are the usual seals, crabs are shorebirds, but now you can add ruins and tombstones to the list of what visitors can see on Ocean Beach. 

The last few months have seen El Niño-strengthened storms and tides reveal the ruins of an old pedestrian tunnel at Taraval and Great HighwayMore recently, the tides at Ocean Beach have uncovered more intriguing ruins along Rivera and Great Highway for beachcombers to ponder, including several sets of bricks impressed with the word "Carnegie." 

"[They] were likely they are part of the 1942 debris dumped at that location," said historian David Gallagher of the Western Neighborhood Project. "Because of World War II, construction material was not available, so any construction debris, including headstones from Laurel Hill Cemetery, were dumped to stave off the ocean." The makeshift seawall was installed in 1944, according to an article in the bygone newspaper the San Francisco Newsand made up of "old headstones, pieces of mausoleums and brick and stone piers left when the cemetery was moved several years ago."

Three young boys climbing a large pile of old tombstones, brick and stone along the Great Highway in 1944 (Photo: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library)

One particular tombstone from Laurel Hill Cemetery resurfaced back in 2012, to great excitement. When the tides revealed the tombstone of Delia Presby Oliver, the folks over at Mission Mission undertook a search to find out more about the 26-year-old woman who passed away in 1890. 

As for the bricks, they are most likely firebricks manufactured by the Carnegie Brick and Pottery Company, which started in 1903. (Owners John and James Treadwell named the company in honor of industrialist Andrew Carnegie.) After the company went bust in 1916, other companies bought the equipment and continued to make Carnegie bricks until 1958. 

Seen any interesting ruins yourself on Ocean Beach? Let us know in the comments!