Bourn’s Landing near Gualala on the Mendocino Coast – 1910 pics

I( get a lot of questions when “working the crowd” at our layout. Today I was explaining to a couple and their son that the 1906 earthquake not only devastated San Francisco but also devastated all the communities along the Mendocino Coast. At the conclusion of my “spiel ” the lad, in a very serious voice, asked if I was there!!!!!! We collectively did some sums and concluded that if I was born in 1906 I would be 109. The lad concluded that I was definitely old but he wasn’t sure I was more than 100. Hmm. Botox maybe?

One lady recently astutely observed that there was little “social” history on the layout. She explained there was nothing to tell you how often people had baths or showers. How did the “ordinary” people dress? What did a schoolroom look like? As with all the questions I get I note them down and admit that I haven’t a clue but will try and find out.

Well serendipity being what it is I recently received the following e-mail from John Ricca which said in part:

My father-in-law Joseph R. Mixer (age 94) had an aunt, Miss F.S. Mixer, who taught school at the Bourns Landing [near Gualala] schoolhouse around 1910.  I’ve attached photos of hers from that era that I scanned and was hoping that you might be able to use them, or at least know of some other organization that might want them.”

Here are the photos that give you an idea of what school was like and how the ordinary folk lived. Alas info on peoples bathing habits so far elude my research.

Thank you John.

Iverson (Landing) just south of Point Arena on the Mendocino Coast

Iverson (also spelled Iversen) was located 5 miles south of Point Arena. A post office operated at Iverson from 1890 to 1910. The name honored Charles Iverson.

The above was about the sum total of what I knew about Iverson until quite recently. I knew from various sources that there was a chute there. Chutes were used to get cut lumber from shore to a schooner moored as close to the shore as was safe. This, I think, was the chute at Iverson (Landing):

Chute at Iverson on the Mendocino Coast

Chute at Iverson

The other picture that I garnered was this one:

Railroad ties en route to the Iverson chute on the Mendocino Coast

Railroad ties en route to the Iverson chute

But, who was Charles Iverson? Well, for starters I am not sure his name was Charles. I think that this is he along with his wife and two children.

Capt. Niels Iverson

Capt. Niels Iverson

My info says Capt. Niels Iverson was known for being a very industrious businessman. He came to San Francisco in 1830 from Denmark. He settled in Point Arena in 1865 and opened a store. The store expanded into a meat market. He later opened the Point Arena Hotel. He also owned a paper mill and a saw mill.

The location of the mill I haven’t yet figured out. But I will …….

Another sliver of local history meets the light of day.



Northwestern, now known as the town of Brooktrails near Willits – Blog #4

Brooktrails is the modern name for a place known as Northwestern at the beginning of the 20th century. Northwestern in its heyday was an important place. It was a designated stop on the Northwestern Pacific (NWP) railroad, had a post office and the only hospital in northern Mendocino County. It also had a lumber mill – the Diamond D. Our web site page on the history of Northwestern was mostly supplied by club member Mike Aplet who lives there.

Mike recently forwarded a map of the NWP’s route from Willits to Sherwood and beyond:

Map of NWP Sherwood Extension and part of the Sherwood branch

Map of NWP Sherwood Extension and part of the Sherwood branch

In addition to the map Mike sent along a few new/old pics:

Choppers and Peelers of the Diamond D Mill

Choppers and Peelers of the Diamond D Mill

Diamond D Mill circa 1905

Diamond D Mill circa 1905

The Sherwood Branch close to the Mill Pond

The Sherwood Branch close to the Mill Pond

Willits Mercantile and Sherwwod Train Station circa 1900

Willits Mercantile and Sherw0od Train Station circa 1900

If you want to check out the previous blogs on Brootrails click on these links:

Northwestern, now known as the town of Brooktrails near Willits (blog 3)

Northwestern, now known as the town of Brooktrails near Willits (blog 2)

Diamond D Mill at Northwestern, now known as the town of Brooktrails near Willits in Northern California (blog 1)

Five and a half inch freshet in Mendocino on February 28th, 1917

I had never heard of the word “freshet” when we moved here (Fort Bragg, CA.) in 2000. It wasn’t part of my lexicon. It turns out that a freshet is, “the flood of a river from heavy rain or melted snow.” In the early years we lived here was a relatively dry spell. There was a fair amount of discussion among club members as to whether the weather was normal or abnormal.

Across the California Western Railroad’s (CWR) – the Skunk Train – tracks alongside our club’s layout (The Mendocino Railroad & Navigation Co.) is the Guest House Museum. In front of the Guest House is a slice of a tree:

Guest House Tree, Fort Bragg CA.

Guest House Tree

In order to settle the discussion I and another club member decided to measure the width of the 911 tree rings in the slice of trunk. The more rain the wider the tree ring. I sent our tabulation to a Professor friend at Columbia University in NYC for analysis. The result of the analysis was that there were no regular cycles of more/less rain. There were years when the rainfall must have been horrendous. There were years when the rainfall was minimal. Which means that this year’s very heavy rainfall is not out of the ordinary.

To prove my “point” check out this snippet from the local rag of February 28th, 1917:

“Mendocino was visited by a very severe storm Friday and Saturday, it being that 5 and a half inches of rain fell in 24 hours. As a result, Big River had the largest freshet in several years. About 25,00 logs came into the boom from the camp of Mallory and Johnston. The new chopper’s camp on Big River lost part of its cookhouse and a large fill on the new railroad was washed away. Aside from this, no material damage was done.”



CWR (California Western Railroad) Steam Locomotive #45 – Her Regeneration in 1988

The great picture of Wendling in the last blog was supplied by Greg Checkal. Greg also supplies this wonderful picture of CWR’s Steam Locomotive #45:

Greg Chekal's picture of CWR's #45

Greg Chekal’s picture of CWR’s #45

A very old club member, John Skinner, came by the other day with a bunch of really neat historical stuff. One of the items that John dropped off was a booklet celebrating the “regeneration” of #45. The key parts of the booklet are reproduced below:

Front Cover of a Booklet on the Regeneration of CWR's #45 in 1988

Front Cover

Pics of the Transformation of CWR's #45 in 1988 - Page 1

Pics of the Transformation Page 1

Pics of the Transformation of CWR's #45 in 1988  Page 2

Pics of the Transformation Page 2

Thanks Greg. Thanks John.


History of Wendling (Woods) in Mendocino County, CA

Until 1914, Navarro on Route 128 in Mendocino County was called Wendling (Woods) – Navarro was the name of what is now Navarro-by-the-Sea. Wendling/Navarro, is located eleven miles up river from the sea along Highway 128. Ok, so now you know where Wendling was located.

If you check our website you’ll that there is precious little in there on Wendling (Woods). There isn’t even a picture of the Wendling Mill. I did write a blog a while ago about Wendling/Navarro but, again it doesn’t include a whole lot of history. Well, all that is about to change. The change began when I received this great photo of the Wendling Mill from Greg Checkal:

Wendling Mill on Route 128 in Mendocino County CA

Wendling Mill

The following history I got from one of the Arcadia Press series entitled, “Anderson Valley.”

G.X. Wendling built the Wendling Redwood Shingle Mill in 1902. Soon after the mill was completed he made an agreement with the Albion and Southwestern to extend their railroad to the mill. The railroad was completed on September 1905. Earlier that year A.G. Stearns purchased the shingle mill. In 1908 Stearns made an agreement the Northwestern Pacific Railroad to extend their track from Wendling to Christine Landing (three and a half miles away). Known as the Floodgate extension this track crossed ravines and rivers, It required 100 men and 80 mule teams to build.

Building the Floodgate Extension from Wendling to Christine in Mendocino County

Building the Floodgate Extension

In 1914 The Navarro Lumber Company purchased the Stearns Lumber Company. The name of the mill changed with each owner. Eventually the the town of Navarro and the Navarro Mill became just Navarro. This was confusing because Capt. Charles Fletcher had settled at the mouth of Navarro River in 1849 naming the settlement and the river, “Navarro.” To rectify the confusion the town of Wendling was officially changed to Navarro. The settlement at the mouth of the Navarro became Old Navarro, or Navarro Ridge and later became Navarro-By-The-Sea.

In August 1920, The Albion Lumber Company purchased the Navarro Lumber Company for $247,750. This included the railroad, rolling stock, sawmill, hotel, lodging house, shops and cookhouse – or “Mill Town.”. In 1922 the railroad was extended another three and a half miles down Perry Gulch.

While the railroad was built to haul lumber. it was soon used for hauling other products and passengers. On May 17, 1908, the first “Excursion Picnic Train” traveled from Albion to Wendling and Dago Town. Dago Town became the entertainment centre of Wendling.

Eventually, the demand for lumber ceased. The mills and rails rusted away. In 1937 the railroad and parts of the mill were sold to Hyman-Michaels as scrap iron.

Railroad ties stored 4 miles north of Wendling in Mendocino County in 1926

118,000 railroad ties stored 4 miles north of Wendling in 1926 – there was no market for them


Near Ukiah is Montgomery Woods (Montgomery State Reserve), home of one of the world’s tallest redwoods

The tallest living tree stands at 367 feet, 6 in, or five stories higher than the Statue of Liberty. It is the Mendocino Tree, a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) found at Montgomery State Reserve near Ukiah, California, USA. It is estimated to be over 1000 years old. The tree was last measured in September 1998, and was also found to have a diameter of 10 ft. 4 in. It was declared the tallest tree in 1996. More recently other redwoods have found to be taller.

My kids loved having adventures with their dad. They even had teeshirts which said, “I survived adventures with my dad.” Some of our adventures were hairier than than what was good for me let alone them. Anyway, when daughter Holly came from Connecticut to visit she wanted an “adventure.”

Notwithstanding having lived here (Fort Bragg, CA.) since 2000 I had never visited Montgomery Woods. So a visit to Montgomery Woods was mooted. Getting there isn’t real easy:

From Mendocino go 30 miles east on Comptche-Ukiah Road and pass through Comptche (it’s tiny – if you blink you’ll miss it). Continue on as it becomes Orr Hot Springs Road, a scenic, winding and poorly maintained country road. Park in the lot of the Mendocino Woods State Park on the right just east of a small bridge.”

We stopped for a libation and snack in Mendocino and off we trooped. It was well worth the effort of getting there.

Sign at the entrance

Holly checking out the sign at the entrance

Really neat A Frame bridge

Informative sign about the Pomo

Look at the size of this downed one

Is this the tallest tree?

Lots of the visitors having their pics taken in front of this one

Great adventure.


Caspar Lumber Company Inclines at Whisky Springs on Route 20 between Fort Bragg and Willits

Our website has this to say about the Caspar Lumber Company inclines:

The first two inclines (shown in yellow) on the map above belonging to the Caspar Lumber Company were just up one side of a hill and down the other side of the hill. The logs were pulled to the top of the hill and then lowered down the other side. The picture below shows the Caspar Lumber Company incline in operation.

The Caspar incline at work

What the website page does not say is when and exactly where it was built. That “mystery” was recently solved in the “blast from the past” section from the local rag::

It is reported that the Caspar Lumber Co. is to work up all of its timber in the Little North Fork of Big River into ties. It will be necessary to build a tramway (incline) from the head (end) of the railroad on the South Fork of the Noyo (River) over the divide at Whisky Springs to get the ties out.”

And the date – January 24th, 1917.

And where is Whisky Springs? Here’s a map I bagged from Google:

Another small piece of the jigsaw that is the history of logging along the Mendocino Coast.