Dean Cheatham introduced today’s speaker and one of his clients, Jack Innis, an award-winning
journalist who is familiar with some unusual and quirky stories about the San Diego area. A graduate of Cal State San Marcos, he lives in Bay Park and works as a freelance writer and editor. Jack is also the author of “Torrey Pines Hermit” and “San Diego Legends.”
Jack shared two stories with us. The first was about a cave and series of tunnels that begins on the rocks below downtown La Jolla and makes its way up to nearly street level. (Your scribe is somewhat familiar with this “passageway.”) Portions of the tunnel have concrete pathways which suggests some 19th or 20th century involvement. Might this latter information suggest some use for smuggling?But smuggling when and of what?
Jack’s second story dealt with an eccentric fellow who created a two-room cave in the big cliff at the north edge of Torrey Pines State Park and made it his home for twenty years. Kicked out of his Salt Lake City home in the mid-70s by a wife who tired of his endless and reclusive reading and study of world religions and philosophies, he made his way down the coast by bus to the park area where
he “felt an immediate inner response” to the big cliff at the north edge of the reserve. Using only a Bowie knife and a screwdriver, he tunneled his way into the sandstone. Later he would acquire a hatchet and pickaxe to aid in the work, eventually creating two rooms. His “furniture” was carved from the sandstone. He painted and decorated his abode with paintings drawn from every religion. He went out early in the day, catching a bus to Pacific Beach to spend time at a gym and get groceries. He wrote in the evenings, filling many notebooks.
Rangers discovered him in 1987, but, since no one complained, they did nothing, Ultimately, however, he came to have many visitors. He built bridges and stairways and dammed a creek. The rangers finally had had enough and, as Jack told us, finally filled the cave with a truckload of concrete in 1991.
Nick made many appeals, legal and otherwise, but those came to naught. He continued to dig in the area, creating more problems for the authorities. Nick finally died at a La Jolla hospital in December, 1994, at the age of 74.