Montaña de Oro is rich in history, from Native American to Spanish Land Grant, to cattle ranching and dairying. In 1892, Alden B. Spooner, Jr. built this ranch house overlooking the sea. He and his three sons began running cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, and operated a 150-cow dairy that was considered one of the finest in the area. Spooner also built a landing on the bluff of Spooner's Cove where "doghole" schooners could moor to take on crops from the ranch. During the 1920s and 30s, they leased ocean terrace land to Japanese pea farmers. Except for the highest slopes, every acre visible from the ranch house was under cultivation. During prohibition Spooner's Cove was known as Smuggler's Cove, as illegal liquor from Mexico was brought ashore and sold to area speakeasys. At least 18 outbuildings, a water-powered creamery, and a cliffside loading chute for coastal steamers once clustered near Spooner's Cove. Now only the ranch house and a concrete creamery built in 1915 remain.
The Spooners sold the ranch to O.C. Field in 1941, who then sold it to Irene McAllister in 1952. She renamed the Pecho Ranch to Montaña de Oro, the theory goes either because of the gold wildflowers or because she was going to strike it rich in oil and cattle. She did not and within three years she was in bankruptcy proceedings. People in the area thought it would make a beautiful state park and so petitioned the state. California purchased the land and opened it as a State Park in 1965.
To learn more about the parks natural and cultural history, visit the Spooner Ranch House above Spooner's Cove, open daily from 11am to 2pm. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome.