The history of South Laguna Beach California in pictures and stories. South Laguna from the 1900s with photos of Thousand Steps Beach, Aliso Creek, Paradise Cove and Three Arch Bay. The best look at South Laguna on the Web. See South Laguna now!


South Laguna California

South Laguna - 1920

In the background on the far right, you see the South Laguna homestead of William and Mattie Egan, built in 1920. The farm houses along the dirt Pacific Coast Hwy were used by the Mexican workers. This type of agriculture is called "dry farming", as there was no source of fresh water along this stretch of the coast. The farm houses were located where Catalina meets the Pacific Coast Highway today.

Here's an interesting question: The line of extremely slow growing Cypress trees visible on the left, and visible in some of the other pictures are at least 30-40 feet high and very well developed. They are in straight lines of almost one mile in length on both the north and south sides of Aliso Canyon. They must have been growing for at least 60-70 years, and probably much longer then that, before this picture was taken.

So who planted them, and why?

No one knows. Not even George Thurston, the first homesteader of Aliso Canyon in 1871, knew.

Aliso Beach and Howards Clifftop shack behind the Aliso View Grocery - 1923

The sign on the right announces that you have arrived at "Coast Royal", the name a developer gave to this section of the South Laguna coast. Notice that the newly graded section of the future Pacific Coast Highway does not follow the original road, which can be seen on the right, passing right next to the sign. Today, this section of the coast is occupied by the "Coast Royal" condominiums, located just to the south of Aliso Beach.

Three Arch Bay - 1900's

This wonderful old photo of the Pacific Coast Dirtway is looking south from South Laguna toward Dana Point. The very top of Whale Island can be seen poking above the coastal cliffs on the right. The farmhouse, barely visible alongside the road ahead is located where today's main entrance to Three Arch Bay now resides. I have enlarged the farmhouse as much as I can in the photo below.

Farmhouse at Three Arch Bay

Aliso Canyon - 1902

Looking back into Aliso Canyon and the original bridge that led to the Thurston farm, hidden in the Eucalyptus grove in the distance. At this time, there was no road that led from here into Laguna Beach. A few years later, they finally made a road along the north side of the canyon and into Laguna, thus connecting the Pacific Coast Hwy into one. On the right side of this picture you can see the start of the road cut that climbs up out of the canyon to the cliff tops above.


Today, you can still see and walk on this original part of the Pacific Coast Hwy. It can be found running up from behind the GTE Telephone building on the south side of Aliso Canyon. Take a walk back in time. Smell the sage and Sweet Anis. Dream the old dreams.

Aliso Canyon - 1902
The Thurston homestead ranch in the 1930's. Imagine...just walking into Aliso Canyon, and claiming it as yours. Free and clear.

Arch Beach Tavern

"The Arch Beach Tavern was built in 1915 at the extreme end of Catalina Street to house people of the motion picture industry. It was also the headquarters for selling lots in the Arch Beach Heights Tract. You could go and see the lot or buy it from the map. "Any lot for $10". The office was in the large room which was often used for inside motion picture scenes. It was named Sunset Inn when made into apartments in the late '20's"

Text from the book "The First 100 years in Laguna Beach" by Merle and Mabel Ramsey,

North side of Aliso Cyn looking South

Aliso Cyn and Coast Hwy -1936

The Aliso View Grocery was located almost exactly where this picture was taken. High on the side of Aliso Peak is the famous "Halliburton House". The scar from the original Coast Hwy can be clearly seen on the far side of Aliso Canyon.


And now for a little "Bonus History"....


Bonus History!

Since you've read this far, and are apparently really interested in the history of South Laguna, I'll show you this little bit of almost unknown history from our town. Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon!

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