Legend of Morro Castle

Written by a passing traveler


1880


Only ten or twelve miles from San Luis Obispo is Morro Bay, the estero of the old Spaniards, and laid down on the maps as Estero Bay. The Curiosity I felt to see this place was not, I confess, so much due to what was told me of its importance as a bay and a point of geographical and commercial importance, as the bit of romance connected with a rock rising abruptly out of the midst of the harbor. For a harbor it would be well adapted, if but a single bank, the removal of which would involve an expense of perhaps one thousand dollars, were cleared out of the way. But the story which would to me, threw such a halo around Morro Rock, a cone-shaped, symmetrical mass of reddish color, lifting itself about two hundred freet out of the dashing waves, runs as follows: A Spaniard had conceived such a love for this lonely, sea-washed pile that he built himself a house a few miles inland, called it Morro Castle, and made a dying request that his body should be carried to the top of the rock and buried among the jutting crags and scant vegetation. Truly the Old Spaniard had grand ideas, for what monument could be raised to man more imperishable than this rock, looming up so darkly from the bosom of the blue waters, where the sea bird with its restless cry, and the winds with deep rolling voice, could intone eternal requiems over him. Wherever his body may have been laid, the spirit seems not to have found rest; for it is said that strange noises are heard around the house he built, and slow, stealthy steps measure the length of the garret and seem to descend to the ground outside. It is a long, low built adobe, with walls over three feet in thickness, and large, deep-set windows, grated and barred to hold out against the attacks of Indians and marauding Mexicans; for it was erected sometime between 1830 and 1840. The cost is said to have been $40,000, and when we find that it is over two hundred feet long and finished off in splended style, for that time, the surprise is that the cost was not greater. The plastering has fallen off in many places, though made of the gypsum found in the hills near by; but the square joists under the ceiling rough-hewn in some rooms and planed off in others, are as strong as when first placed there, and the apartment used as a chapel still shows the mark where the altar stood. The largest hall measures eighty feet in length, with six windows looking out on the courtyard. What the courtyard had originally been could be conjectured from the elegant finish of the out-buildings forming one side of the square. The buildings on the third side have crumbled to pieces, and the fourth side seems alway to have been open, which accounts for the windows looking on the court-yard being barred and grated. The stairway leading to the garret is on the outside of the house and the garret itself a wierd looking dim-lighted hall, with a wall almost reaching to the roof running through the length of it and adding to the uncomfortable feeling one gets here from the desire to know what is on one side of the partition while you are on the other. The present owner assured us that he seldom entered this place, and that he had done nothing to have it cleared of the debris he found there. Moth eaten remnants of gay, rich Spanish costumes were lying in curious heaps on the floor, and old saddles, bridles, and spurs were slowly mouldering into dust; but I could well fancy how thes garments resumed their former glitter when at midnight they clothed again the supple form of the proud Spaniard, and how his fiery steed found his way out of the hills to carrry his master in one mad gallop down to the Morro Rock.............



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