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Clearing Big Sur slide

Clearing Big Sur slide

Oct. 26, 1983: A massive slide blocking California 1 near Big Sur is taking months to remove.

In a Nov. 3, 1983, Los Angeles Times article, staff writer Charles Hillinger reported:

BIG SUR, Calif.–The armada of yellow machines scurries furiously over the slope, digging deep into the tumble of rocks and earth covering the highway.

Back and forth the bull dozers rumble, pushing tons of rubble and boulders over the edge of the slide area and down the face of the cliff to the Pacific Ocean below.

For 22 weeks the 26 bulldozers have chewed away at the steep mountain slope from dawn to dusk, removing a 963-foot-high landslide from California 1–believed to be the largest slide to bury a road in California’s history. Latest estimates are that the road will not be cleared until spring.

Meanwhile, the earthen blockade–located near Big Sur, 91 miles north of San Luis Obispo and 36 miles south of Monterey, has seriously affected local businesses.

A $1.6-million revenue loss has been projected by the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument because of the road closure, Renee Lewin, the park’s administrative officer, said.

Hearst Castle, the most popular state park in California, has had nearly 200,000 fewer visitors so far this year than at the same time last year. The castle is 50 miles south of the slide, cut off from the busy Monterey Peninsula…

A succession of 30 slides swept down mountain slopes amid torrential storms last March and April, wiping out huge sections of the scenic coastal road.

All have been cleared except this monster slide in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, nine miles south of Big Sur…

Caltrans officials estimate it will cost $7 million to remove the giant landslide. The total cost to repair the highway from last winter’s storms will be more than $10 million.

The 70 men working on the mountain use radios to communicate, wary of the warning cracks and threatening avalanches that could send them hurtling over the edge.

“It’s a long ways down,” said Paul Kinne, 58, a catskinner for 40 years, as he took a breather and looked out the cliff….

These two photos by staff photographer Joe Kennedy accompanied Hillinger’s article in the Nov. 3, 1983, Los Angeles Times. The road was reopened in April, 1984.

Oct. 26, 1983: Bulldozers working dusk to dawn work to clear a massive slide on California 1 south of Big Sur. Credit: Joe Kennedy/Los Angeles Times.

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