Andrew Molera State Park

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Andrew Molera State Park
Andrew Molera State Park Beach.JPG
The beach in Andrew Molera State Park
Map showing the location of Andrew Molera State Park
Map showing the location of Andrew Molera State Park
Map showing the location of Andrew Molera State Park
Map showing the location of Andrew Molera State Park
Location Monterey County, California, USA
Nearest city Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Coordinates 36°17′N 121°50′W / 36.283°N 121.833°W / 36.283; -121.833Coordinates: 36°17′N 121°50′W / 36.283°N 121.833°W / 36.283; -121.833
Area 4,766 acres (19.29 km2)
Established 1968
Governing body California Department of Parks and Recreation

Andrew Molera State Park is a state park of California, United States, preserving relatively undeveloped land on the Big Sur coast. Situated at the mouth of the Big Sur River, the property was part of the Rancho El Sur land grant, and later owned by the Cooper-Molera ranching family.[1] His sister Frances Molera stipulated that the park should be named for her brother Andrew Molera, who popularized the artichoke in California in 1922,[2] when she sold the property to The Nature Conservancy in 1965.[3]


Activities at the park include hiking, fishing and beachcombing, with miles of trails winding through meadows, beaches and hilltops. A primitive walk-in trail camp, popular with hikers and bikers, is located approximately one-third of a mile from the parking area.[4] It is considered the most reliable surfing area in Big Sur.[5]

The park is 20 miles (32 km) south of Carmel-by-the-Sea on State Route 1.


The Cooper Cabin

Andrew Molera State Park features the historic Cooper Cabin, built in 1861 or 1862. It is the oldest structure in Big Sur.[6] Fur trader Juan Bautista Roger Cooper was Andrew Molera's grandfather.[1]

The Ventana Wildlife Society has established a Discovery Center within the park. The Discovery Center includes exhibits on local wildlife, including the California condor, and a bird banding laboratory. Scientists and other laboratory employees give regular tours of Andrew Molera State Park, explaining the flora and fauna that are unique to the area.[5]

The park also features a year-round waterfall, 40-foot (12 m) Highbridge Falls. Other nearby waterfalls include Limekiln Falls, Salmon Creek Falls, McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and Pfeiffer Falls in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.


Andrew Molera State Park has over 20 miles (32 km) of hiking trails. Some run along the shore, others along the Big Sur River, while still others climb to high ridges with views of the entire Big Sur coast.

The only camping available in the park is in a 24-site walk-in campground. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.[4] The campground is particularlym popular with European visitors.[1] No dogs are allowed on the trails or campground.

Marine protected areas

Point Sur State Marine Reserve and Marine Conservation Area are marine protected areas offshore from Andrew Molera State Park. Like underwater parks, these marine protected areas help conserve ocean wildlife and marine ecosystems.


John Bautista Rogers Cooper traded Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo in the northern Salinas Valley with Juan Bautista Alvarado for the Rancho El Sur on which the state park is located today. When the Mexican government ceded California to the United States after the Mexican–American War, the Land Act of 1851 required grantees to provide proof of their title. Cooper filed a claim for Rancho El Sur with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[7] and he received the legal land patent after year of litigation in 1866.[8] His son John Bautista Henry Cooper helped his father with the cattle business on Rancho El Sur. He married Martha Brawley in 1871 and was elected as a Monterey County supervisor.

After John B. R. Cooper's death in 1872, the ranch was divided between his widow Maria Jerónima de la Encarnación Vallejo, their son John Bautista Henry Cooper, and their two surviving daughters, Anna Maria de Guadalupe Cooper and Francisca Guadalupe Amelia Cooper.[9] John B.H. Cooper became a Monterey County supervisor and managed Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo in the Salinas Valley. Later in life he built a new home on Rancho El Sur Ranch but died soon after its completion on June 21, 1899, leaving his wife, three sons and a daughter.[9] His wife received 2,591 acres (1,049 ha) of her husband's estate totaling 7,000 acres (2,800 ha), and over time bought the remainder from the other heirs.[10][11] In 1928, Henry C. Hunt, a business man from Carmel-by-the-Sea, purchased the northern 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) from John B.R Cooper's widow, Martha Cooper Vasquez Hughes, for about $500,000. On November 28, 1931, he announced that he had arranged to lease the remaining 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) from her.[12] [13]:127

Ownership of the southern portion passed to John B.H. Cooper's sister, Francisca Guadalupe Amelia Cooper, who married Spanish engineer Eusebio Joseph Molera in 1875.[14] Neither of their two children, Andrew or Francisca, ever married. They lived most of their life on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. The census record records their occupation as "farmer" and recorded the presence of a cook and maid living with them.[15][16][17][18] Andrew J. Molera, who was very obese, died of a sudden heart attack in 1931. His sister Francisca, granddaughter of Juan Baustista Roger Cooper, inherited the land. She arranged in 1965, almost 100 years after her family gained title, to sell 2,200-acre (890 ha) of the original Cooper land grant to The Nature Conservancy. She stipulated that the park should be named Andrew Molera State Park in honor of her brother. She died in 1968.[19] The conservancy held the beachfront property in trust until the state of California could finance the purchase of the land.[20] She also added provisions to the sale requiring that the land remain relatively undeveloped. When the California state park administration began to propose considerable development for the park, the Nature Conservancy threatened to revoke the sale arrangement, and the state backed down.[21]


At the county level, Andrew Molera State Park is represented on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors by Supervisor Dave Potter.[22]

In the California State Assembly, Molera State Park is in the 17th Senate District, represented by Democrat Bill Monning, and in the 30th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anna Caballero.[23]

In the United States House of Representatives, Molera State Park is in California's 20th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jimmy Panetta.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Andrew Molera State Park: Beach, Headlands Trails". California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  2. ^ Ferrary, Jeanette. "Artichokes". VIA Magazine (May/June 2000). Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  3. ^ "Discover California State Parks in the Monterey Area" (PDF). California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  4. ^ a b "Andrew Molera SP". California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Andrew Molera State Park". Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  6. ^ Davis, Kathleen E. "Big Sur Cabin". California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  7. ^ "Finding Aid to the Documents Pertaining to the Adjudication of Private Land Claims in California, circa 1852-1892". 
  8. ^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886 Archived 2013-03-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b "Cooper Family". Patton Family Website. 24 November 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2018. 
  10. ^ "John H B Cooper". California and Californians, Vol. IV. The Lewis Publishing Company. 1932. pp. 49–50. Retrieved 11 March 2018. 
  11. ^ Bell, Mary (1904). "The Romance of the Spanish Land Grants". Sunset. California: Southern Pacific Company. 13: 334–337. 
  12. ^ "LEASE MADE ON BIG RANCH NEAR CARMEL". Oakland, California: Oakland Tribuhe. 29 Nov 1931. p. 77. Retrieved 11 March 2018. 
  13. ^ Hale, Sharron Lee (1980). A Tribute to Yesterday: the history of Carmel, Carmel Valley, Big Sur, Point Lobos, Carmelite Monastery, and Los Burros. Valley Publishers. p. 206. 
  14. ^ "E. J. Molera, 1846-1932". p. 174. 
  15. ^ Year: 1880; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: 78; Page: 76B; Enumeration District: 201
  16. ^ Year: 1920; Census Place: San Francisco Assembly District 31, San Francisco, California; Roll: T625_136; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 153
  17. ^ Year: 1930; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0334
  18. ^ Year: 1940; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: m-t0627-00318; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 38-502
  19. ^ "Discover California State Parks in the Monterey Area" (PDF). California State Parks. Retrieved August 12, 2016. 
  20. ^ walton, John (2007). "The Land of Big Sur Conservation on the California Coast" (PDF). California History. 85 (1). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 22, 2015e. Retrieved 14 August 2016. 
  21. ^ Brooks, Shelley Alden (2017). Big Sur: The Making of a Prized California Landscape. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520294417. Retrieved 11 March 2018. 
  22. ^ "Monterey County Supervisorial District 5 Map (North District 5)" (PDF). County of Monterey. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  23. ^ "Statewide Database". UC Regents. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  24. ^ "California's 20th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. 

External links

  • Andrew Molera State Park
  • Big Sur Discovery Center
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