History of the Cal Poly Research Pier
Cal Poly's Pier has undergone change throughout its history, shifting purpose from industrial use to a center for marine research & education.
For thousands of years the Chumash Native Americans made their home on the Central Coast, including the Avila Beach area.
The town of Avila is established when the Miguel Avila family subdivides Rancho San Miguelito.
John Harford erects the Harford Pier, to facilitate shipping and trading on the Central Coast.
Present day Avila Pier is constructed.
Union Oil and other companies begin building the largest oil pipeline to date. Over 200 miles of oil pipeline is laid from the San Joaquin Valley to Avila. The first oil arrives at Port San Luis in March 1910.
- 1922 The Pacific Coast Railway Co. builds a third pier in San Luis Obispo Bay for commercial shipping. Union Oil Co. of CA (later Unocal) leased the new pier and expands is operations. At this time, Avila becomes one of the largest crude oil shipping ports in the world.
Harford Pier closes to oil shipping. All oil now ships via the Pacific Coast Railway Pier.
The oil facility is abandoned during the Great Depression. 1400 feet of the Harford Pier is demolished to aid navigation in the bay. 1941
Union Oil acquires the Pacific Coast Railway pier and changes its name to the Union Oil Pier. The U.S. Naval fleet fuels the pier during the war years. Union Oil tanker Montebello
is sunk by a torpedo near San Simeon, only hours after fueling at the port. Miraculously, no lives are lost.
Lt. General Dwight D. Eisenhower sends Union Oil a telegraph thanking the employees for their efforts during WWII.
The Port San Luis Harbor District is created to revitalize the Harford Pier and surrounding area.
Sustainable goals for Port San Luis are set by the newly founded California Coastal Commission.
A fierce March storm destroys the Union Oil Pier. Three employees are rescued from the collapsing pier by crew of the Paul Revere
-mid 1990s A modern steel and concrete pier is constructed in the old pier's original footprints. The new pier extends over 3000 feet into San Luis Obispo Bay. The pier transports an average of 8 to 19 million barrels of oil products per year until Unocal concludes its oil operation at the pier.
On a rainy November day, Unocal donates the pier to Cal Poly's Center for Coastal Marine Sciences. A beautiful rainbow breaks through the heavy clouds and descends on Avila Beach, an auspicious beginning to Cal Ploy's new research center.
Center for Coastal Marine Sciences