Blast from Brisbane’s Past Costanos Canyon

By: MADISON DAVIS, President/CEO, Brisbane Chamber of Commerce,, 415-467-7283

While we usually scan articles and photos from the city archives for this column, this month’s piece was not of high enough quality to scan so it is typed out below. The article is from a column called “Bob Toren’s Peninsula Album” which I believe ran in The Times in the 70’s. Unfortunately the newspaper clipping we have doesn’t include the date or paper in which it was published so we have made our best estimate of its origin. Since the paper will get delivered a week before Halloween, we thought it might be fun to include some creepy Brisbane lore to get in the spirit.
“Sometimes, from the Bayshore, San Bruno Mountain seems dark and forbidding, clutching its isolated little town of Brisbane against its ridges. Brisbane’s people are somehow separated from Peninsula activities, mixing very little even with other communities on other slopes of the mountain. Emile Allemand built a hotel here in 1908, expecting the Bayshore to run up the central street, San Bruno, and cut over the hill to South San Francisco. But the highway bypassed the town, which has since developed its own strong and individual identity, the last true country town on the Peninsula. The friendliest place in town is the library, with assistant librarian Dolores Gomez in charge. Brisbane historian, Dorothy Radoff, tells of the local legend of Costanos Canyon, a dark and gloomy canyon off Humboldt in which the Mexican bandit, Joaquin Murietta, is said to have hidden. He preyed upon the San Francisco to San Jose stageline, and may have even buried loot here. An oak tree still stands from which he is supposed to have hung his enemies, including Three-Fingered Jack. The City of Brisbane has dedicated the canyon as a conservancy and tribute to the Costanos Indians, a gentle race that has lived in the protection of the mountain and disappeared long before the first Brisbane pioneer moved down from San Francisco.”