Window to the Past
WINDOW TO THE PAST
MORO CANYON SERVED AS A HOME, MARKET AND HARDWARE STORE FOR ITS EARLIEST RESIDENTS MORE THAN 9,000 YEARS AGO.
Though Spanish colonists claimed the land here at Crystal Cove for Mission San Juan Capistrano in the 1770s, Moro Canyon’s history goes back at least 9,000 years, when the native people first harvested food and materials from the land and the ocean. Moro is the territory of the Acjachemen, who established their villages near dependable sources of water as they set out on seasonal gathering and hunting trips. Food sources ranged from fish in the kelp beds and surf zones to waterfowl, animals and a variety of plants.
European occupation of present-day Orange County began in 1776 with the founding of Mission San Juan Capistrano; the land where Crystal Cove is located became grazing land owned by Jose Andres Sepulveda, and was christened Rancho San Joaquin. When Sepulveda was pushed into debt, he sold the land to San Francisco financier James Irvine and his three partners in 1864. When Irvine became the sole owner, the land became the largest portion of the Irvine Ranch, as well as an asset that was used in a carefully planned manner to preserve and protect the natural resources.
Today, the land is known as Crystal Cove State Park—3.2 miles of pristine coastline and biological resources in the foothills. CCA has helped restore 35 acres in Moro Canyon, including the addition of the Berns Environmental Study Loop, offering visitors a half-mile of mini field stations where they can participate in educational citizen science endeavors to help better understand the ecosystem.
For more history on Crystal Cove, visit crystalcovebeachcottages.com.