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For over a hundred and sixty years, “the shack” has stood the test of time against the elements. This shack, now known as the Whalers Cabin, overlooks Whalers Cove and Carmel Bay in the Point Lobos State Reserve. The Whalers Cabin survived the rise and fall of the whaling industry and has been preserved as a cultural museum.
The Whalers Cabin was first constructed by Chinese fisherman in the mid-19th century. At one time, the area was home to as many as ten cabins, comprising a fishing village. The cabin had many occupants over the years, from the Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese and many others. During the height of the Whaling industry, the Carmel Bay Whaling Company operated in Point Lobos. By 1900, the Whaling industry was in a sharp decline, with only 16 companies operating with about 300 men employed between them all. The last owner of the Point Lobos was A.M. Allan, who sold the land to the California State Parks in 1933. The family sold the land so that it could be preserved for future generations.
In 1986, an archaeological dig was conducted on the cabin’s floor, which fills in the gaps of the historical records of the time. The dig concluded that when the Chinese lived there, the floor was hard packed earth. Later, a pine floor supported by granite chunks was installed. Whale vertebrae also served as the foundation. There is an oak floor, which was the most recent addition. There was evidence of Japanese occupants as well. Following the completion of the dig, the cabin was raised to install a stabilizing foundation for the cultural museum.
Lead by docent Kurt Loesch, the search began for the artifacts and materials that would showcase the rich history of the shack. Descendants of families that had lived at Point Lobos donated memorabilia and photos. Historical records and newspaper archives were collected. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History and the California Academy of Science in San Francisco either donated or loaned artifacts as well.
Today, the Whalers Cabin features Chinese fishing equipment, Portuguese diaries, and Japanese photographs, among many other items. There are displays of whaling tools, whale-oil barrels, harpoons and a model of a shore whaling boat. Outside the Whalers Cabin lies a variety of whale bones from a Humpback Whale.
For more information, please go to http://www.pointlobos.org/