Noah's Ark by the Bay

Updated: May 17, 2021


Alphonse Trinqual was an eccentric hermit that lived in Mayfield, CA and built an ark in order to survive a second biblical flood.


TL;DR

  • Alphonse Trinqual (A.K.A "Twinkle", "Man of Mystery", Rudolph Trinqual, James Trinqual) lived in Mayfield, CA (now part of Palo Alto) during the early 1900's

  • Known as a excellent mechanic and inventor

  • Was a devout student of the Bible and predicted a second biblical flood

  • Built a 80 foot Ark that was eventually situated near Colorado Ave and Hwy 101 (Mayfield Slough)

  • Named the ark "Hydropathic"

  • Eventually became disillusioned with Bible and flood story

  • Ark was destroyed (burned) after it was displaced to make way for a 628-food radio tower for MacKay Radio and Telegraph

  • Post-Ark era Trinqual was arrested for counterfeiting and likely ended his years in Santa Cruz, CA

I enjoy reading through old Bay Area newspaper archives for stories and places of interest that might have been lost over the last century or so. Over my morning coffee on day, I encountered a February 25, 1917 article in the San Jose Mercury News detail a fascinating hermit who lived in the Mayfield area and built an ark to prepare for the second biblical flood.


 

Alphonse Trinqual

San Jose Mercury News, February 25, 1917


As the story goes, around 1910 Alphonse Trinqual was a bicycle repair shop owner on Lincoln Street (California St) in Mayfield, California. He was sitting on his porch, reading his Bible and gazing on the Santa Cruz mountains when he got a vision about a second biblical flood. Apparently, the next day he disposed of his shop and started to build the hull of the ark on a vacant lot next to his shop. People started to take notice and Trinqual was in no mood to be ridiculed so became very surly with the locals. People saw his peculiar hobby as harmless so they let him be. The ark took almost 7 years to build, but Trinqual seemed to be 'well supplied with funds'....more on that later.


San Jose Mercury News, July 22, 1913


Del Norte Triplicate, February 27, 1914


 

The Zealot


Trinqual had some radical views on his life. Here's an excerpt from a 1913 SJ Mercury article.


Trinqual is not certain whether the flood will be a duplicate of the one Noah experienced or whether it will be a tidal wave according to the traditions of an old Indian legend handed down from the days of the Aborgines who lived about the bay. He recalls that Noah was 600 years of age before he was invited into the ark, and although he thinks it possible that he may live the name length of time before the inundation takes place, he is completing the craft in order to become accustomed to it, meanwhile.

 

Move to the Marshland


Around 1910, the unfinished ark was moved with the assistance of livery stable owner Peter Grimley to it's final resting place in the marshland near Mayfield Slough. Placed on rollers, the ark made a laborious 2 mile trek from California st. down to Colorado Ave and Hwy 101.


While on still building, Alphonse lived in a thatched home of sod and home-made caulking pot.

Finding the trip to and from his work becoming irksome, the zealot moved his belongings to ------- shackle but which happened to be near the ark. and from then on the dreamer was alone with his few chickens, his Bible and his odd ship propped in its muddy berth.

 

The "Hydropathic"


In interviews, Alphonse referred to his ark as the "Hydropathic". By all accounts the ark became a local curiosity with tourists making the trek out to the marshland just to see it and meet the eccentric builder.

San Jose Mercury News, February 25, 1917


San Jose News, January 20, 1978


The ship itself gradually assumed a master and grander appearance. Its sides were heightened; a mast was stepped, and a spacious cabin built amidships where the carpenter later took up his permanent residence, fitting the interior with every convenience for his simple wants and shooting a long tin chimney through the roof. The boat when finally completed stood about 80 feet long with a beam of 17 feet, and constructed on the Cape Cod dory style universally used by fishermen of that coast. With high sides concealing the completely decked over hull, oval cabin with many round windows and towering mast. The ark soon came to be one of the sights of the vicinity, a lure for travelers with appetites tor the odd and the superstitious.

 

Disillusionment


Alas,Trinqual's biblical flood never came to pass and he became embittered with the world. He openly started denying the biblical account of Noah.


"Why," he said, in answer to my query about the first flood, “Noah's ark was in really about 26 feet long with a four-foot beam. It was probably built of logs and was used for a fishing boat before ever the flood came. Of course you understand I take no stock in the story of Noah and the flood. It said that he took a pair of every kind of animal on the earth at that time. If this were true, where did he put the 150-foot mastadons? He tied them on behind the ark and let them swim. Some of the smaller animals he must have placed on his floating mastadons, using them for rafts” And so he went on, boldly voicing his disbelief and saying that "this was only written to please the children and babies anyway."

 

Epilogue


Around 1920, the land that the ark was on was sold by the Mackay Radio and Telegraph co in order to erect a 628 foot tall radio tower. The firm kicked Trinqual off the land and burned the ark. What became of him post 1920's is up to speculation. Some articles refer to him moving up to the Chico area to work on a ranch. Other searches of information infer that he ended up somewhere in Santa Cruz.


Oh, and about the funding of Alphonse's project? One might infer that he bet his livelihood on building his creation and found himself on the other side of the law. In 1917, he was arrested for counterfeiting U.S gold notes.


San Jose Mercury News, November 2, 1917


 

Location

Approximately 37.441003, -122.114146



Sources

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