Past Events: 2007 Jergins Tunnel opening

Tunnel Sees The Light and LB Heritage Museum Gets A Boost

Sunday October 28, 2007 was a great day for Long Beach history and the Long Beach Heritage Museum. The historic Jergins Tunnel was opened to the public for the first time since its closing 40 years earlier on June 7th, 1967. Some of the day’s events included a film festival shown inside the tunnel, divided into sessions, which ran well into the evening. Two of those film sessions, “Earl Daugherty: First Flights,” and “Long Beach Home Movies: 1920’s-1960’s” where provided by the Long Beach Heritage Museum. According to the Press Telegram, more than 1,000 people lined up for a chance to be inside the tunnel which means … Great Event! And LBHM volunteers were on hand just outside the tunnel’s entrance/exit engaging the crowds who stopped by our display tables hungry for another historical fix.

The Jergins Tunnel Film Festival drew the perfect crowd … history buffs looking for a link to their past and the Long Beach Heritage Museum had it: Three tables displaying many of the Museum’s historical photos, books, memorabilia and of course, membership applications. Ken Larkey, President of LBHM, sold a record number of Long Beach history books which he published and paid for himself. 30% of all book profits are donated directly to the Museum’s building fund and Ken is always happy about that. “A lot of those books sold like hot cakes” Ken said, “And we didn’t even have any syrup.”

Of all the events that LBHM has attended, the opening of the Jergins Tunnel provided the most memberships and donations the Museum has ever gathered at one showing. Pretty exciting stuff!

The day didn’t start so well for LBHM volunteers Marshal Pumphrey, Greg Toyoda and museum president Ken Larkey. A canopy was promised to protect our heroes from melting under the hot sun but this canopy didn’t materialise until late afternoon. Just in time, because Ken wasn’t feeling too good.

Visitors came from all over to see the tunnel and connect with their past. Many interesting stories were shared throughout the day–stories of memorable times spent on the Pike with the common thread being the Jergins Tunnel. It was encouraging to LBHM volunteers to see so many others interested in Long Beach history. It was a big boost to morale. We met a lot of nice people and got the chance to tell them our story as well, who we are and why the museum needs a home.

Bill Pearl, Publisher of Long Beach Report, came by and conducted an unscheduled interview with Larkey not long after the canopy was set up. Ken was feeling better by now but was admittedly still a bit grumpy. When asked how the interview went Ken replied, “I can’t remember.” Al-righty then. Don’t feel bad, Bill. Another news organisation came by later and Ken flat out refused the interview, opting instead to send the news crew over to Marshal who represented the museum in top fashion.

Although the day was an overall success, many visitors didn’t know that the film sessions showing inside the tunnel had been completely sold out before the event began … and it wasn’t pleasant having to tell them. Good honest people ready and willing to do whatever … to get inside the tunnel if only for a few seconds. And some did… 🙂 Many visitors voiced their opinion that the tunnel should be opened to the public in some capacity and Larkey agrees … “The Future of Long Beach depends on its past.”

Council woman Suja Lowenthal would also like to see the Jergins tunnel opened to the public permanently. She feels it would be an asset to the city and bring more people downtown both day and night. When asked if he supported Lowenthal’s views Ken said, “yep”. So we encourage other LBHM members to contact Suja Lownethal and Staff @ http://www.ci.long-beach.ca.us/district2/staff.asp and let her know that as an active member of LBHM you support her efforts towards opening the tunnel once again. In short, open it and we will come.

History Brief:

Built in 1927 and opened to the public in 1928, the Jergins Tunnel, named after pioneer oil baron Andrew T. Jergins, was built to create safe passage to the beach. At the time there were no stop signs or traffic signals on the corner of Pine and Ocean … known then as “The Cross Roads of Long Beach.” What a traffic mess as you can imagine, so folks in City Hall got the idea to build what they termed, The Pedestrian Subway, AKA Jergins Tunnel.

The opening of the Jergins Tunnel was a super event for the Heritage Museum. We met up with old friends, made new friends and signed up many comrades. We want to welcome those that joined us that day and express our sincerest appreciation.