Wow – what a timely question.
I will attempt to answer your question, but in the name of honest journalism, I have to admit that my response may have been influenced by a bit of Carmel Valley’s finest red during our meal at Lovers Point.
It was a lovely, slightly foggy evening when we finished our meal. My friend turned right and I went left towards downtown. I had walked a few paces and turned the corner when I saw a two headed sea monster with black beady eyes in my path. I stood stock still in panic. In the fog, I could not tell if the creature was coming towards me or moving away from me. I was unsure whether to slowly move away or stand completely still in the hopes it would not see me.
In a few moments, the fog suddenly cleared and I could see that the creature was no creature at all, but the two heads I had seen were merely attached to both ends of a strange white boat. When my breathing returned back to normal and my heart rate slowed down, I approached this strange craft. I managed to make out the words “Swan Boat” in the dim light of the moon. I decided to head home and research the net.
The internet (Archive in a Box) had much information about this particular “Swan Boat”. From an article in a 1976 newspaper article “Glass bottomed boats were first introduced to the area some time around 1894 by Nathaniel Roscoe Sprague, who operated the business for more than 50 years under a concession agreement with the city. When “Dad” Sprague died in 1948, his son, J. Russell Sprague, took over the fleet, which by then also contained paddle boats, rowboats and motor launches for sport fishing trips. During the early years, the glass bottomed boats were dispatched from the end of a long, wooden pier that bisected what was then just a narrow cove between two rocky shores with a small sandy beach at its end.”
And, from the Summer, 2008 Board and Batten, published by the Heritage Society of Pacific Grove, I found this gem: “A fleet of glass-bottom boats with wooden swan heads once plied the shallow waters of the cove and bay around Lovers Point. These boats were first introduced in the early 1890s and were launched from the end of a wooden pier in the middle of the beach cove at half-hour intervals whenever water conditions were favorable. They gave Retreat passengers a canopied window on the “living carpet of color” in the rocky canyons and caverns that make up the garden floor of Pacific Grove’s “Marine Fairyland.’”
I hope you found this story as interesting as I did.
Editor – Michael Groshong