Cambrian: Opinion

Story of Highway 99 to be told at Cambria museum

The Montebello at its first launch; the ship sank in 1941 off the coast north of Cambria.
The Montebello at its first launch; the ship sank in 1941 off the coast north of Cambria.

This evening, Nov. 2, the Cambria Historical Society hosts the year’s last program in the Speaker Series, with The Cambrian Editor Stephen Provost joining us in the parlor describing the history and points of interest along Highway 99. Provost’s latest book is receiving rave reviews for his fascinating text and illustrations of the main line of major transportation the entire length of California, until it was surpassed by Interstate 5 50 years ago.

California Bookwatch says, “From the migrations of the Dust Bowl, to the birth of the Bakersfield Sound, to the foundation of America’s fast-food culture, the history of California has happened along Highway 99 — and ‘Highway 99' informatively depicts that history.”

The evening begins at 5:30 with hors d’oeuvres, free to members and only $10 for the public; and the book will be available for sale and autographs.

12 Dick (Richard) Quincy last survivor of the Montebello
Dick Quincy, the last survivor of the Montebello, visited the Cambria Historical Museum two years ago. Consuelo Macedo

Montebello art

The public is warmly invited to a free reception and unveiling of the new painting of the Dec. 23, 1941 sinking of the S.S. Montebello just off the coast north of Cambria. On Thursday, Nov. 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., we will host noted local artist Tom Gould, who has painstakingly researched the events of that fateful early morning, in order to replace the painting that has been on display in the museum, dramatically but incorrectly depicting it as exploding.

In order to portray the incident accurately, Gould made extensive reference to the history of the ship; the Japanese submarine I-21; research and reports by maritime historian, Robert Schwemmer; and the eyewitness account by the last remaining survivor, Dick Quincy. (Quincy was a guest at our museum two years ago.) The Historical Society Board members have been highly impressed by his attention to detail, and will offer a limited edition of autographed prints for sale as a benefit. Refreshments and beverages will be served. RSVP to Events Chairman Penny Church at 805-927-1442 or We especially appreciate Richard Lee for his important part in facilitating this addition to our exhibits.

Clauses return

In keeping with favorite traditions at the museum, Santa Claus will open the holiday season as he arrives by fire truck at 6 p.m. Cambria’s Hospitality Night, Thursday, Dec. 7. Save the date. The “jolly old elf” and Mrs. Claus have been delighting folks of all ages for years, sitting and chatting and posing for pictures with them, which are printed on the spot. There is no fee for admission or refreshments, but a small donation for the photos is requested.

Please keep us in mind for your end-of-the-year gifts, including tax-deductible donations, bequests, commemorative and memorial bricks and pickets, and a trip through our gift shop for some one-of-a-kind presents.

Don’t forget to renew your membership, or join us as a new member. That $100 business fee, or $30 family membership helps us operate the museum and entitles you to free admission to our Speaker Series almost every month. And it enables us to keep history alive for locals, tourists, and especially children with our newest family activities. Sign up to be a docent inside, or outside in the Heirloom Gardens. There is something for everyone here.

Consuelo Macedo’s column on North Coast history and Cambria Historical Society activities appears the first Thursday of each month and is special to The Cambrian.

About the musuem

The Cambria Historical Museum and bookstore, 2251 Center St. at Burton Drive, are staffed by volunteers on from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays.; the heirloom gardens and backyard nursery are open all day every day. Phone: (805) 927-2891. Go to, and like us at