Steve Schwartz

Man in blue shirt and jeans standing in front of cave.
Steve Schwartz

Chapter 29

Steve Schwartz, US Navy archeologist (retired), San Nicolas Island, discusses the retrieval of the Lone Woman in 1853 and the location where the hunting party stayed with the Lone Woman while they were on the island.

By using the accounts of Captain Nidever and Carl Dittman, it is possible to find the location on the island where the otter hunting party found the Lone Woman, and then follow their trail back to the otter hunters’ camp.

The camp was on a beach in the center of the northern coastline. This location is an excellent spot for landing small boats. It has a spring of fresh water in a small cave and also has a natural windbreak formed by a sandstone cliff at one end. Many early explorers and hunters camped at this site.

Nidever and Dittman recorded the events relating to the Lone Woman’s discovery in 1853 in two separate documents. According to these records, the Lone Woman led them from her hut to a spring on a nearby beach, where she had put some items in rocky crevices. She got her items and then stopped at another spring to bathe. After this, they all went to the hunting camp.

Later, the men took her out to their boat, which was anchored offshore, to keep her from running away. After a day or so, it appeared that she would not run off. They took her back to their camp and returned to hunting otter. She kept herself busy collecting wood and water for the camp and weaving baskets.

She remained in the otter hunters’ camp for about a month. Then she was taken from San Nicolas Island to the town of Santa Barbara on the mainland.

Last updated: November 26, 2017