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Visitors can pore over black-and-white images in albums such as “Rebuilding Greenwood Bridge, Vol. 2.” Great Day in Elk, the town’s annual parade held in late August, celebrates the bounty of the region. Perhaps the most interesting character profiled in Elk’s museum is Charlie Li Foo, a Chinese immigrant who worked in the lumber camps.While he was working alone in the woods in the 1880s, legend has it, Li Foo’s leg became trapped between two logs.

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When the region was ceded by Mexico to the United States in 1848, it was the United States' "last frontier." The region remained one of the most isolated areas of California and the United States until, after 18 years of construction, the Carmel–San Simeon Highway (now signed as part of State Route 1) was completed in 1937.

Along with the ocean views, the winding, narrow road, often cut into the face of seaside cliffs, dominates the visitor's experience of Big Sur.

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But some locals still refer to it as Greenwood, and the narrow curving ribbon of asphalt that leads to Elk from the Anderson Valley is called Philo-Greenwood Road.

At the museum, Christiansen says that the bits of steel in the floor came from logger’s spiked boots, a pair of which are on display.Over the past year, Kammerer and the kitchen crew have planted 15 raised vegetable beds in a garden that slopes down to the ocean.They’re growing alpine strawberries, pineapple sage, radishes, turnips, some of it picked, taken to the kitchen, and on diners’ plates in less than a half-hour.To escape, he had to cut his leg off with a pocket knife.That ended his work in the forests, and – this much is true – he became a barber and, despite anti-immigrant sentiment, one of Elk’s leading citizens.“My grandfather’s name was John Simpson Ross,” Christiansen said, pointing to a photo on the wall. Filled with relics from Elk’s lumber heyday, the museum has an antique adding machine, an early washing machine that looks like a giant butter churner, a Western saddle dating to about 1900, and an ornate woodstove that provided comfort during Elk’s bone-chilling winters.