Big sur historic cabins struggle to survive

Demolition of Big Sur’s buckling bridge begins; rebuild could take a year

BIG SUR — For over eight decades, the historic lodge and cabins of Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn have withstood howling winds, punishing wildfires and torrential rains.

But now Mother Nature has delivered some gut punches that the inn — a relic of a bygone era, managed by the Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation — cannot survive on its own.

The Big Sur coast’s original roadhouse, the lodge is now appealing to the public for emergency funds to repair and restore the landmark. Healthy fast food restaurants As a nonprofit organization, it does not have large financial reserves.

“We hope to rebuild, sustain our employees and open our doors,” said Deetjen’s spokeswoman, Jeanne Crowley.

Landslides have destroyed four of its 20 cabins and compromised its other historic structures and all the internal roadways. The downed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge has cut off access to guests, employees and most supplies. All fast food restaurants The beleaguered inn was still struggling from the economic blow of last summer’s 134,000-acre Soberanes fire, which spared the lodge but forced its closure to all but a few intrepid tourists.

It can only keep five of its 50 staffers, some of whom have worked there for three generations. Local food restaurants near me It is hoping to keep these families sustained through unemployment insurance and donations, until it can bring them back.

Deetjen’s rustic buildings were constructed between 1936 and 1950 by Helmuth Deetjen and Helen Haight, who bought the property from descendants of Jose Castro, whose father came to California on the 1775–1776 Anza Expedition.

Deetjen employed the vernacular wooden building traditions of his native Norway in its design, creating a cluster of rough-hewed cabins under the boughs of redwood groves in the scenic Castro Creek Canyon.

The lodge responded to an expanding need for overnight visitor accommodations along the Big Sur coastline as a result of the opening of the Carmel-San Simeon Highway, a precursor to Highway 1, in 1936. It became a haunt for local artists and writers, among them poet Robinson Jeffers and author Henry Miller.

And even as Big Sur has grown expensive and exclusive, Deetjen’s has not. Good fast food restaurants Unlike other retreats in the area, which cost hundreds of dollars per night, it has stayed affordable.

There’s no Wi-Fi, TV, cell service, hot tub or spa. Food for restaurants Rooms are full of character: dim and cozy, with dark wood and tilted floors, decorated with antiques and warmed with wood-burning Franklin stoves. Popular fast food restaurants Deetjen’s personal touch is everywhere, from hand-carved wood balusters to plaques with quotes from world literature and his own homilies.

“We wanted people to experience what Big Sur was years ago, while staying up-to-date with comforts,” such as linen sheets, Crowley said.

Its restaurant was beloved for local cuisine from the Monterey Bay and Salinas Valley, such as baby organic green salads, seared tuna and pork tenderloins. Top ten fast food restaurants The dining room features a portrait of Deetjen, smoking a pipe with one eyebrow arched. Best food restaurants Cats meander through its well-tended gardens.

Last summer, the Soberanes fire almost caused it to close full-scale operations. Local food restaurants It stayed opened primarily as a service to the community, offering meals and a place to stay for firefighters. Top 5 fast food restaurants While this was a major economic shock, the lodge expected a full recovery.

Then the winter’s storms severely damaged the property, when a mudslide and downed trees crushed the duplex Creek House, the Stokes cabin and the Faraway cabin. Food and restaurants near me The roof of the Farway House at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn collapsed after a Redwood tree fell on the cabin during the recent storms in Big Sur. Restaurants food near me (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

“The trees came down, and tore this whole mountain down,” said lodge historian Doris Jolicoeur. Restaurants near me fast food Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn General Manager Doris Jolicoeur poses for a portrait in the damaged Stokes House in Big Sur. Find fast food restaurants Redwood trees fell on the cabin due to the recent storms. Best food restaurants near me (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

The coup de grace was a landslide that shut down all Highway 1 access from the south — and, even more profoundly, the closing of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge on Highway 1 to the north.

This dictated that Deetjen’s close completely, which has been devastating to the families who depend on the lodge for income. New fast food restaurants The plight is shared by neighbors Nepenthe, Ventana and the Post Ranch Inn.

The few employees who stayed behind miss their families and co-workers, who are now on the other side of the broken bridge. Chain food restaurants They stay connected by phone, said Viancy Cortez, 24. Fast food restaurants in the area “It’s been hard. Nearby food restaurants My dad, sister and boyfriend are on the other side.” Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn employee Viancy Cortez, 24, poses for a portrait at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn in Big Sur. Food restaurants nearby Cortez, who witnessed the landslides, has been stuck on the south side of the bridge and isolated from family and friends in the north. Fast food restaurants in this area (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

The Foundation has not yet tallied its total losses, but estimates that repairs could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fast food chain restaurants In addition to cabin rebuilding, they must refurbish and fix interior roads and other infrastructure. Open food restaurants near me The Creek House at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn was damaged from a mudslide during recent storms in Big Sur. Fast food restaurants open (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

“What we are planning to do is save and use as much lumber as we can — the doors, the beams, the windows — so we can duplicate what we have,” Jolicoeur said.

With the bridge down, it must find new vendors for fresh food and supplies from the south, from places like Cambria, Lucia and Paso Robles.

It also wants to help its employees, so they return. Food restaurants near my location “People are in shock, and we’re helping with paperwork, email and on the phone,” Crowley said. Food restaurants around me “Deetjen’s has always taken care of its employees, providing benefits, so we could offer the best quality of services to our guests.”

“We want to turn Deetjen’s into what it was before,” she said. Most popular fast food restaurants “If you’ve stayed at and enjoyed Deetjen’s in the past, a donation of any amount will be greatly appreciated.”

Deetjen’s is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so donations are tax deductible. Food chain restaurants To give, go to: or write: Deetjens Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation Inc., 48865 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920.

For more information, phone Doris Jolicoeur at 831-667-3219 or email Jeanne Crowley at

Lisa M. Junk food restaurants Krieger is a science writer at The Mercury News, covering research, scientific policy and environmental news from Stanford University, the University of California, NASA-Ames, U.S. Restaurants and food Geological Survey and other Bay Area-based research facilities. Food near me restaurants Lisa also contributes to the Videography team. Fast food and restaurants She graduated from Duke University with a degree in biology. Restaurants american food Outside of work, she enjoys photography, backpacking, swimming and bird-watching.

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