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Rockaway Beach, California

Rockaway Beach, California

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Encyclopedia
Rockaway Beach is a shoreline area of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 in the southern portion of Pacifica, California
Pacifica, California
Pacifica is a city in San Mateo County, California, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay.-Overview:The City of Pacifica is spread along a six mile stretch of the north central California coastal beach and hills, nestled in several small valleys spanning between...

, United States, approximately 7 miles (11.3 km) miles south of the city of San Francisco. It is located within a gently curving embayment with direct access via Rockaway Beach Avenue and providing easy access to Highway 1.

The beach itself is a popular place to visit with many restaurant and shopping venues although erosion has decreased its size over the years. It is noted for its scenic
Scenic
Scenic is the first full-length album by Denver Harbor, released on October 12, 2004 on Universal Records. It contains re-recorded versions of four of the five tracks from their debut EP Extended Play , as well as two of the three songs from their 2003 demo Scenic is the first full-length album by...

 vista, and is one of the cleanest in the San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

.

History


There are no known prehistoric remains in Rockaway Beach itself; however, the site of the Ohlone
Ohlone
The Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan, are a Native American people of the central California coast. When Spanish explorers and missionaries arrived in the late 18th century, the Ohlone inhabited the area along the coast from San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the lower Salinas Valley...

 Native American village site of Timigtac is located about a half mile away on Calera Creek, immediately to the east of Rockaway Beach by State Route 1.

The Rockaway beach area has played a role in local history since the arrival of the Portola Expedition
Gaspar de Portolà
Gaspar de Portolà i Rovira was a soldier, governor of Baja and Alta California , explorer and founder of San Diego and Monterey. He was born in Os de Balaguer, province of Lleida, in Catalonia, Spain, of Catalan nobility. Don Gaspar served as a soldier in the Spanish army in Italy and Portugal...

, the Spanish explorers credited with discovery
Discovery (observation)
Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something "old" that had been unknown. With reference to science and academic disciplines, discovery is the observation of new phenomena, new actions, or new events and providing new reasoning to explain the knowledge gathered through such...

 of the San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean...

. As early as 1776, limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 was quarried in the Rockaway Beach lime
Lime (mineral)
Lime is a general term for calcium-containing inorganic materials, in which carbonates, oxides and hydroxides predominate. Strictly speaking, lime is calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide. It is also the name for a single mineral of the CaO composition, occurring very rarely...

 pits and was used to whitewash
Whitewash
Whitewash, or calcimine, kalsomine, calsomine, or lime paint is a very low-cost type of paint made from slaked lime and chalk . Various other additives are also used...

 the newly-built Presidio of San Francisco
Presidio of San Francisco
The Presidio of San Francisco is a park on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in San Francisco, California, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area...

 . More recent investigations suggest that early settlements in San Pedro Valley also used this limestone for their foundations. In 1907, the Rockaway Beach quarry was established as a continuously-operating commercial entity known as the Stone Brothers. After construction of the Ocean Shore Railroad
Ocean Shore Railroad
The Ocean Shore Railroad was intended to be built from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, California, via a route along the Pacific coastline.-History:...

 in 1907, limestone from this quarry was conveyed to assist with the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake
1906 San Francisco earthquake
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a major earthquake that struck San Francisco, California, and the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906. The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude of 7.9; however, other...

. Quarry materials were actually used as ballast
Track ballast
Track ballast forms the trackbed upon which railway sleepers or railroad ties are laid. It is packed between, below, and around the ties. It is used to facilitate drainage of water, to distribute the load from the railroad ties, and also to keep down vegetation that might interfere with the track...

 for the trackbed of the railroad; moreover, after completion of the railroad, Rockaway Beach was considered a suburb of San Francisco due to convenient access. This all changed after legal problems resulting from landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

 repair caused the railroad to go bankrupt in 1921.

Highway 1 was completed from Montara
Montara, California
Montara is a census-designated place in San Mateo County, California, United States. The population was 2,909 at the 2010 census. Nearby communities include Moss Beach and Princeton-by-the-Sea.-Geography and environment:...

 to Rockaway Beach in 1938, thereby reopening the local area again to easy northern access. Horace Hill operated the quarry from the early 1940s to 1953, along with a profitable sand dredging business on the quarry's backside. Ideal Cement took over the quarry operation after that time and owned it until 1971; later operators were Rhodes and Jamison and Quarry Products.

Natural features



The coastal bluffs have verticality as steep as 60 percent, while some of the quarry surfaces are completely sheer. The limestone beds within the quarry are hard and fresh, with close- and widely-spaced fractures. Some of these beds are underlain by greenstone
Greenschist
Greenschist is a general field petrologic term applied to metamorphic or altered mafic volcanic rock. The term greenstone is sometimes used to refer to greenschist but can refer to other rock types too. The green is due to abundant green chlorite, actinolite and epidote minerals that dominate the...

, an altered volcanic rock that becomes less weathered with depth. The eastern portion of the quarry area is underlain by alluvial terrace deposits. The beach littoral
Littoral
The littoral zone is that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It always includes this intertidal zone and is often used to...

 zone is underlain by Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

 age beach sand and the upper sands vary in depth by season, depending on the surf scouring of beach sands in the winter and the gradual rebuilding of sands in the summer.

The beach and headlands are mostly California coastal prairie
California coastal prairie
California coastal prairie, also known as northern coastal grassland, is a grassland plant community of California and Oregon in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome...

 and Northern coastal scrub
Northern coastal scrub
Northern coastal scrub is a scrubland plant community of California and Oregon. It occurs along the Pacific Coast from Point Sur on the Central California coast in Monterey County, California, to southern Oregon...

, while the riparian area of Calera Creek presents the most important upland habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

 of the area. Although the beach and headlands area are the least disturbed natural areas of the Rockaway Beach area, they are used moderately as recreation spots. Vegetation is sparse on the beach with occurrences of Succulent sea fig, Hottentot fig, and Fat hen
Fat Hen
Fat hen or fat-hen may refer to:* Hen and chicks, common name for a group of small succulent flowering plants native to Europe and northern Africa* Fat Hen, common name for Aristolochia rotunda , a perennial herb native to Southern Europe...

in the sandy areas. Farther away from the beach there are California poppies, Sand verbena, and Bush lupines. The near littoral
Littoral
The littoral zone is that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It always includes this intertidal zone and is often used to...

 elevation gradually increases toward the north until it reaches a headland peak of 175 feet.

Habitat on the headland east-facing slope consists of Northern coastal scrub
Northern coastal scrub
Northern coastal scrub is a scrubland plant community of California and Oregon. It occurs along the Pacific Coast from Point Sur on the Central California coast in Monterey County, California, to southern Oregon...

, considerable Prostrate coyote brush, Bush monkey flower, and colonies of Bush lupine. A gamut of coastal wildflower
Wildflower
A wildflower is a flower that grows wild, meaning it was not intentionally seeded or planted. Yet "wildflower" meadows of a few mixed species are sold in seed packets. The term "wildflower" has been made vague by commercial seedsmen who are interested in selling more flowers or seeds more...

s inhabit the headland
Headlands and bays
Headlands and bays are two related features of the coastal environment.- Geology and geography :Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by high,...

 slopes; in addition to California poppy
California poppy
The California poppy is a perennial and annual plant, native to the United States, and the official state flower of California.- Description :...

, there are Goldenaster
Goldenaster
Golden asters, genera Heterotheca and Chrysopsis, are members of the plant family Asteraceae. These are annual and perennial herbs bearing daisylike flower heads with yellow disc florets and usually yellow ray florets....

s, Douglas Iris
Douglas Iris
Iris douglasiana, known as the Douglas iris, is a common and attractive wildflower of the coastal regions of Northern and Central California and southern Oregon. The names Iris beecheyana and I...

, and many other native species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

. The steep bluff
Cliff
In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually...

 faces host plants that are tolerant of wind and sea salt mist, such as Silver Beachweed, Sea rocket, and extensive patches of Yarrow
Yarrow
Achillea millefolium or yarrow is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. In New Mexico and southern Colorado, it is called plumajillo, or "little feather", for the shape of the leaves. In antiquity, yarrow was known as herbal militaris, for its use in...

.

North of the developed area of Rockaway Beach is a hidden quarry
Quarry
A quarry is a type of open-pit mine from which rock or minerals are extracted. Quarries are generally used for extracting building materials, such as dimension stone, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, and gravel. They are often collocated with concrete and asphalt plants due to the requirement...

, whose habitat is severely disturbed. Rip-rap boulders protect the developed area from marine erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

. Near Calera creek there is aquatic vegetation
Aquatic plant
Aquatic plants are plants that have adapted to living in aquatic environments. They are also referred to as hydrophytes or aquatic macrophytes. These plants require special adaptations for living submerged in water, or at the water's surface. Aquatic plants can only grow in water or in soil that is...

 including rushes
Juncus
Juncus is a genus in the plant family Juncaceae. It consists of some 200 to 300 or more species of grassy plants commonly called rushes...

, bulrush
Bulrush
-Wetland plants:* Bolboschoenus, a genus in the sedge family * Cyperus, a genus in the sedge family * Scirpus, a genus in the sedge family * Schoenoplectus, a genus in the sedge family...

es, horsetail
Horsetail
Equisetum is the only living genus in the Equisetaceae, a family of vascular plants that reproduce by spores rather than seeds.Equisetum is a "living fossil", as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and...

, fat hen
Fat Hen
Fat hen or fat-hen may refer to:* Hen and chicks, common name for a group of small succulent flowering plants native to Europe and northern Africa* Fat Hen, common name for Aristolochia rotunda , a perennial herb native to Southern Europe...

, and plantain
Plantain
Plantain is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa. The fruit they produce is generally used for cooking, in contrast to the soft, sweet banana...

. The quarry area hosts a surprising number of amphibian
Amphibian
Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...

s, reptiles, small mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s, and a variety of birds. Avafauna sighted here include heron
Heron
The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae. There are 64 recognised species in this family. Some are called "egrets" or "bitterns" instead of "heron"....

s, egret
Egret
An egret is any of several herons, most of which are white or buff, and several of which develop fine plumes during the breeding season. Many egrets are members of the genera Egretta or Ardea which contain other species named as herons rather than egrets...

s, California Least Tern
California Least Tern
The Least Tern is a species of tern that breeds in North America and locally in northern South America. It is closely related to, and was formerly often considered conspecific with, the Little Tern of the Old World...

s, and red-winged blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
The Red-winged Blackbird is a passerine bird of the family Icteridae found in most of North and much of Central America. It breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, and Guatemala, with isolated populations in western El Salvador, northwestern Honduras, and...

s. The headland cliffs within the quarry provide nesting sites for bank swallows, pelagic cormorant
Pelagic Cormorant
The Pelagic Cormorant , also known as Baird's Cormorant, is a small member of the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. Analogous to other smallish cormorants, it is also called Pelagic Shag occasionally...

s, and Brandt's cormorant
Brandt's Cormorant
The Brandt's Cormorant is a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America. It ranges, in the summer, from Alaska to the Gulf of California, but the population north of Vancouver Island migrates south during the winter...

s. Three endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 are found proximate to Rockaway Beach: the San Francisco garter snake
San Francisco garter snake
The San Francisco Garter Snake is a slender multi-colored colubrid snake. Designated as an endangered species since the year 1967, it is endemic to California and resides only in San Mateo County, California, and the extreme northern part of coastal Santa Cruz County, California...

, the San Bruno elfin butterfly
San Bruno elfin butterfly
The San Bruno elfin butterfly is a U.S. Federally listed endangered subspecies which inhabits rocky outcrops and cliffs in coastal scrub on the San Francisco peninsula, endemic to this habitat in California...

, and the Red-legged Frog
Red-legged Frog
The Red-legged Frog, a threatened native species in Oregon, is a common name for a particular kind of frog of the west coast of North America. The Red-legged Frog requires stream side, woodland environments for survival...

. These last two are found within the quarry property; the Red-legged Frog
Red-legged Frog
The Red-legged Frog, a threatened native species in Oregon, is a common name for a particular kind of frog of the west coast of North America. The Red-legged Frog requires stream side, woodland environments for survival...

is a critical food source for the San Francisco Garter Snake
San Francisco garter snake
The San Francisco Garter Snake is a slender multi-colored colubrid snake. Designated as an endangered species since the year 1967, it is endemic to California and resides only in San Mateo County, California, and the extreme northern part of coastal Santa Cruz County, California...

 that is known to exist on the Mori Point National Park
Mori Point
Mori Point is a site located in Pacifica, California that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 2000, Mori Point was put up for sale at auction, and the Pacifica Land Trust, the California Coastal Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land launched a campaign to purchase the...

property immediately adjacent to the north.

Developed area



Hugging the coast at the center of Rockaway Beach is a cluster of restaurants and shops, the oldest of which is a Pacifica landmark, Nick's Seafood Restaurant. Another restaurant, historically the romantic Moonraker (now Ristorante Portofino), hosts nighttime views over the illuminated waves of the Pacific crashing at the restaurant foundation bulwarks. Newer shops nestle behind the Moonraker, many a product of the city's 1986 redevelopment plan.

External links