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For All Its Noise, a Pier With No Peer

September 02, 1997|JEFF KASS

It creaks, it groans, it moans. And that's just the way residents of this town like their wooden pier, the county's longest.

At 1,865 feet, the pier's unique chorus comes from the rubbing of the wood as ocean swells toss the structure, Dan Dorsey, assistant to the city manager, said. "It's not high-tech. It's low-tech, and they like that," he said.

While a concrete pier may have more utilitarian value, Dorsey said the city has sided with the character a wooden pier offers.

But a wooden pier comes with a price, and Seal Beach's pier is known as much for its disasters as its length.

A fierce winter storm in 1983 churned huge waves that swept away the pier's midsection. In 1992, a fire sparked by wires in a lifeguard tower burned the middle of the pier, and the same area burned again in 1994, temporarily closing part of the structure.

But the pier, built in 1906, has always bounced back.

The city is considering refurbishing parts of the pier, including the bathrooms and a section of the walkway, Dorsey said. But he said the city does not plan on making a push to market the pier as a tourist attraction.

"It sort of markets itself," he said. "It's long, it's wooden, it has character."

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