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Pirate Captain of Dillon Beach.
Pirate Captain of Dillon Beach.

Pirate Captain of Dillon Beach

Field review by the editors.

Dillon Beach, California

Pirates -- the classic eyepatch 'n' peg leg types -- are overwhelmingly associated with historical privateer depredations in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast, not the west coast. Yet their iconography is universal -- we see sword brandishing swashbucklers along highways and in theme parks, remote from plunder-worthy waters. They hawk fish sandwiches, antiques, sports teams.

Pirate Captain of Dillon Beach.

The pirate statue gazing between a couple of palm trees along California's Dillon Beach is unanticipated, a side-eye ambush when driving downslope from the little Pacific coast town to the picturesque ocean.

The bronze sculpture nicknamed "Captain Dillon" is 13-ft. tall. The Captain was acquired by owners of the adjacent business property in ~2000 at a charity auction (there are other scurrilous claims that cloud its provenance). It was erected on a concrete plaza within a few years, and stands on a circular stone base with a surrounding walkway and stone wall lip.

The figure is intended as a loose tribute to the town's founder, Irish immigrant George Dillon; Dillon didn't actually storm the land and take it by force in 1858 (or was it 1868?) -- though he eventually built a private resort on this mud flat, promoted for its "bounty of clams." The other (strained) pirate connection might be a fancifully named Pirate's Cove, some miles south in Point Reyes National Seashore, and one pirate from Argentina who raided Spanish settlements further south in 1818. That's it for the left coast bounding main.

Missing artillery and plaque.
"Where be me pair o' Satan's spittoons, for broadsidin' and such, ye scalawags?"

Of course we never object to statues of treasure-seeking cutthroats, in context or otherwise. Captain Dillon is battle-worn. His sword tip is snapped off, his (explanatory?) plaque has been pried away, and two miniature 18th century cannons that bookend him have been removed from their sculpted chassis. Whatever conflict might have occurred here is shrouded in a foggy marine layer that compels us to speculate: Modern pirates salvaging recyclable metal? Too many teens bruised by selfie antics? Or is it reputation rehab for the Scourge of Tomales Point? There was an unsuccessful petition demanding the figure's removal, because it "represents human trafficking, as well as a Disneyesque false narrative."

Cap'n Dillon is steadfastly pirate enough: a skull and crossbones on his hat, a stylish angled eyepatch, a scabbard, a dagger and double-barreled flintlock pistol in his sash. His right hand is burnished from decades of visitors' lucky mojo handshakes.

No peg leg.

Pirate Captain of Dillon Beach

56 Beach Ave, Dillon Beach, CA
Beach Ave and Cliff St
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Ocean Flotsam ArtOcean Flotsam Art, Dillon Beach, CA - < 1 mi.
Elephant RockElephant Rock, Dillon Beach, CA - 1 mi.
Potter Schoolhouse from The BirdsPotter Schoolhouse from The Birds, Bodega, CA - 7 mi.
In the region:
Cyclisk: Towering Pillar of Bicycle Parts, Santa Rosa, CA - 18 mi.

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