Drawn to this wild, remote coast
Traveling the difficult route along the coast in October of 1869, Michael and Babara Pfeiffer were forced to winter in Big Sur and decided to stay. Their daughter, Julia, was just 11 months old at the time. She grew up at their Sycamore Canyon Ranch, helping her father run the ranch until her mid-forties.
In 1915, Julia married fellow homesteader John Burns. They leased a ranch at Burns Creek and ran cattle on Saddle Rock Ranch.
Julia's niece, Ester Ewoldsen, wrote of their life in a 1985 memoir:
"Julia and John lived and worked together in great contentment. They shared the inside and outside chores and cared for the cattle, she riding pell-mell up and down the hills, he slowly making his way on foot or riding more slowly."
Helen Hooper Brown was an east coast heiress. Orphaned at 15, she inherited $10,0000,000. In 1911, Helen married Lathrop Brown, a close friend to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Browns were also drawn to this rugged, remote place. They purchased Saddle Rock Ranch in 1924. The Waterfall House was completed in 1940.
Julia and Helen met during the last years of Julia's life (she died in 1928). These two women from different worlds developed a close friendship.