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before 1955

Ripplewood is one of Big Sur's oldest resorts. In the early 1900's, Highway 1, or the “Old Coast Trail” as it was known in those days, ran through the lower Ripplewood property alongside the Big Sur River. Not far from the road was the very first cabin built at Ripplewood, Cabin 7. It still has a good view of the river and the remains of an old train car that was used as a bridge for a time. Construction on Highway 1 had begun in 1919. It was during that time that the famous arched bridges were constructed. The original owners of Ripplewood were Doris Fee and her father, who built the resort after purchasing the property in 1925. In those days, one could rent a cabin with a bath for $12.50 to $20 a week!

The construction of Highway 1 was completed in 1938, and Ripplewood became a toll station. Although most places in Big Sur did not have telephones until the 1950’s, folks could contact Ripplewood by calling Monterey and asking the operator for “Ripplewood Toll Station.” Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, logging was one of the main industries of this area, and there were many small sea ports along the coast where ships would load and unload their cargo. Tan Oak, Redwood, Limestone and Coal were among the multitude of items being unloaded and loaded onto steamers at these ports. You can still see the remnants of an old wooden cargo boom at Partington Cove.


The family who has owned Ripplewood Resort since 1955 strives to maintain it as a place where generations of guests can return and find it essentially unchanged.

living off the land

For at least five thousand years, according to the latest carbon dating techniques, the Esselen Indians lived in harmony with the land we now call Big Sur. From the very scant evidence available to archeologists, we can assume that they roamed the hills in pursuit of their simple life. Semi-nomadic, they followed each season, seeking its fruits. The coast and the inland hills and meadows provided their every want. From the book 'Recipes for living in Big Sur'.

BIG SUR HISTORICAL SOCIETY