Train Wreck

We have a train wreck on our G Scale layout, The Mendocino Coast Railroad & Navigation Co. Visitors ask if there  really were train wrecks along the Mendocino Coast. The answer is “yes”. Alas, I don’t know exactly where the wreck in these two photos took place.

Hope no-one was hurt

Hope no-one was hurt

The track after the wreck

The track after the wreck

Please contact me if you have info on the photos.

Pomo Massacre near Kelseyville, Lake County, California May15th 1880

A lady at our train layout asked me what the relationship was like between the Pomo and the white man. I told her the white man exterminated the Pomo. She did not like what I told her. Here’s a ghastly piece of history taken from a site called http://www.chrisanddavid.com.

 

Clear Lake Massacre

or the Bloody Island Massacre

One of the first heroes of the Union cause during the Civil War, was General Nathaniel Lyon. On August 10th, 1861, in a daring attack on superior forces, Lyon would fall achieving his goal of securing Missouri for the Union. Today, one can visit the location of this battle and the spot where Lyon fell on the nationally protected Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in southwest Missouri. While the exact spot where he fell is not known, a marker stands today on a hilltop ridge to mark the area generally accepted. It is also unknown if this particular hill bore any name before the battle, but afterwards , it would be called Bloody Hill. Sadly, this would not be the only geographic location that would be changed by actions taken by Nathaniel Lyon. Far to the west, in Northern California, another historical marker tells of the name change attributed to his visit there – Bloody Island.

Bloody Island is today a small hill. But in 1850, it was completely surrounded by the waters of Clear Lake. Times were very different then. Indians did not enjoy the rights of the white man, or the black man, and were enslaved and/or killed at random. This same year, California passed the “Act for the Government and Protection of the Indians”. While sounding good, this act allowed white men to enslave any Indian they found without means of support. Since the Indian held no rights and could not testify in court, nearly every Indian in California suddenly became a candidate for slavery. For those who could afford it an editorial in the Marysville Advocate put the price tag of a young Indian fit for cooking and cleaning at $50-$60.

The public attitude of the time could best be summarized in this editorial from the Yreka Herald. “Now that general hostilities against the Indians have commenced we hope that the government will render such aid as will enable the citizens of the north to carry on a  war of extermination until the last redskin of these tribes has been killed. Extermination is no longer a question of time – the time has arrived, the work has commenced, and let the first man that says treaty or peace be regarded as a traitor”. In 1851, California would pass a law compensating groups for expenses incurred on Indian hunting trips.

Among the early pioneers to enter Northern California were two ranchers, Andrew Kelsey and Charles Stone. Kelsey and Stone purchased a cattle operation from a Mexican, near what is today Kelseyville. While the former Mexican owner had hired Indians as ranch hands, Kelsey and Stone adopted the policy of enslavement. The treatment of these Indian slaves would go from bad to worse. In 1849, Kelsey took 50 Indian slaves with him to see if he could strike it rich in the gold rush. Unsuccessful, it is said Kelsey sold all the supplies meant to feed the Indians to other miners, and only two Indians made it back to the ranch alive, the others having starved to death. Starvation was a common problem among Kelsey and Stone’s slaves. Each Indian herder was paid 4 cups of wheat a day for their labor, which was inadequate to feed the families. The story is told of one Indian that sent her nephew to beg for a cup of wheat, and was killed by Stone. Whippings were a common punishment, and at least four Indian’s were beaten so bad they later died. Another way of punishing Indian’s was too tie their hands together and hang them from a tree for hours.

Among the numerous crimes committed against the Indians, rape of the Indian women and girls was common. A father who refused to bring his daughter to the house for sex with Kelsey or Stone when instructed to, would be whipped. In 1850, when Kelsey and Stone took the Chief’s wife, the Indians decided to react. During the night, the chieftain’s wife poured water into their muskets and the next morning, five braves attacked the house. Both were killed. The tribe, knowing there was no such thing as ‘justifiable homicide’ by an Indian, fled into the hills.

Word of the murder of these two men spread and word was sent to the Army of a Pomo Indian uprising. Captain Nathaniel Lyon was dispatched with a detachment to find and eliminate the Indians. From the National Park Service website – “Captain Lyon arrived at the lake (Clear Lake) in the spring of 1850 with a detachment of soldiers. Since he could not reach the Indians’ hiding place, he secured two whale boats and two small brass field cannons from the U.S. Army arsenal at Benicia. While waiting for the boats and field artillery, a party of local volunteers joined the expedition. Soldiers took the cannons aboard the whale boats, while the remaining body of mounted soldiers and volunteers proceeded to the west side of the lake. The two groups rendezvoused at Robinson Point, a little south of the island. The artillery was taken to the head of the lake in order to be as close as possible to the Indians. In the morning, soldiers fired shots from the front to attract the Indians’ attention while the remaining force lined up on the opposite side of the island. The soldiers then fired the cannon, which sent the Indians across the island where they met the rest of the detachment.”  

Bloody Island – courtesy NPS

In a time when chivalry, mutual respect and fair play was common on the battlefield, what happened next can only be described as an atrocity. The number of Indian’s killed on the island that day vary from 75 to near 200, but few survived. The fact that only two of Lyon’s force were wounded reflects the lack of resistance the Indians offered. The fact that no prisoners were taken, even among the women and children reflects the actions of the men under Lyon’s command. Many were killed as they attempted to swim off the island. Others were shot. Many of the women met their deaths by bayonet. But most horrific of all were the stories of the deaths of children. One Pomo historian later wrote “One lady told me she saw two white men coming, their guns up in the air and on their guns hung a little girl. They brought it to the creek and threw it in the water. And a little while later two more men came in the same manner. This time they had a little boy on the end of their guns and also threw it in the water….She said when they gathered the dead they found all the little ones were killed by being stabed<sic>”

After the destruction of the village, Lyon’s forces continued throughout the area, killing Indians they came into contact with. In coming months, hundreds of Indians of all tribes would be hunted down and killed. Nine years later, after the Gunther’s Island massacre near the Pacific coast, one young editor by the name of Bret Harte was so appalled he wrote in the Northern California “Indiscriminate Massacre of Indians: Women and Children Butchered”. Harte was then run out of town for daring to tell the truth.

For those who have studied the life of Nathaniel Lyon, what happened that day at Clear Lake is not unexpected. Lyon was a fanatical disciplinarian, who felt every situation was black or white, right or wrong. In this case the Indians were wrong and had to pay for their indiscretion. 11 years later, he would take a similar attitude into the Civil War. On May 10, 1861, forces under his command would take part in what would be called the St Louis Massacre (also called the Camp Jackson Massacre), where 28 civilians were killed. On August 10th of that same year, his actions would forever change the name of yet another landmark – Bloody Hill.

(Even in death, Nathaniel Lyon could not escape the stigma of massacre’s. On 11/29/64, Colonel John Covington left Fort Lyon in Colorado, named for the fallen Union General, and attacked and killed nearly 200 peaceful Indian’s encamped nearby. It would become known as the Sand Creek Massacre. )

Today, all there is to tell of this massacre is this marker:

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Inaugural Run of Loco, “Daisy” owned by the Caspar Lumber Company

Inaugural Run of Loco Daisy

Inaugural Run of Loco Daisy

It’s 1885, the No. 2 locomotive “Daisy” has just completed her trial run on the Caspar & Hare Creek Railroad. The locomotive was tasked with transporting logs to the sawmill in Caspar. The new locomotive was built by Baldwin in Philadelphia; parts were boxed and shipped around Cape Horn; they arrived from San Francisco on the schooner “Abbie.”

She’s still “alive” and you can find her in the Deli restaurent in Fort Bragg, Ca.

50-Million-Year-Old Redwood Chunk Found in Diamond Mine

How long have “our” coastal redwoods existed? Well, a search for diamonds in Canada’s far north turned up a rare fossil — a chunk of a redwood sealed in volcanic rock more than 50 million years ago. A search for diamonds in Canada’s far north turned up a rare fossil — a chunk of a redwood sealed in volcanic rock more than 50 million years ago. A study of the well-preserved specimen, which also contains a sliver of amber, shows that the now-icy region where it was found had a swampier past. The wood was found a few years ago in a kimberlite pipe, named the Panda pipe, over 1,000 feet below Earth’s surface at the Ekati diamond mine, just south of the Arctic Circle in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the researchers say.

50 million year old piece of Redwood

50 million year old piece of Redwood

As Peanuts would say – “Good grief”.

Wreck at Russian Gulch near Mendocino

Russian Gulch State Park today is a popular place for events, weddings, camping and such. In 1867 L.E. Ballister & Co. had a mill there. From 1878 to 1888 Prince Grey had a shingle mill there which which was taken over by Eugene Brown in 1888. From 1918 to some time in the 1920’s Gray and Johnson Lumber & Shingle Mill operated at Russian Gulch. The only way to get the shingles to market was by sea. Russian Gulch, like all doghole ports, was a very dangerous place in bad weather. I don’t know which schooner is in the pic below – the note with picture merely says the wreck was at Russian Gulch.

Wreck at Russian Gulch just North of Mendocino

Wreck at Russian Gulch just North of Mendocino

The wreck of the Sea Foam off of Point Arena in February 1931

If you check out our website section on ships under “S” you’ll find info on the Sea Foam. Alas, the info is effusive but not too heavy on fact. Hopefully this blog rectifies the lack of facts.

Built by John Lindstrom in Aberdeen, Washington in 1904. She displaced 339 tons. She had a 250,000 board feet capacity and carried both lumber and passengers. Her dimensions were 127 x 32 x 10 feet with a 500 h.p. compound engine. The Sea Foam was operated by J.H. Fritch of San Francisco. The coast residents relied on the Sea Foam. She carried everything the coast residents needed, equipment for the mills such as saws, clothing, furniture and even pianos. Here’s a copy of her schedule:

Sea Foam schedule

Sea Foam schedule

The Sea Foam crashed on the south reef of the Point Arena harbour in February 1931. She was en route from Eureka to San Francisco, stopping at Point Arena to pick up freight. As the captain was entering harbour he decided the sea was too rough. When he was bringing her around the Sea Foam was caught by a heavy tow and was carried around to the reef with disasterous results. The Coast Guard launched a boat with a crew of seven and despite the rough seas and 45 mph winds was able to rescue all 19 men who were aboard.

Here are pictures of the wreck:

Wreck of the Sea Foam

Wreck of the Sea Foam

Sea Foam on the murderous rocks

Sea Foam on the murderous rocks

Rollerville Water Wheel at the termination of the Rollerville Flume

What is a flume? A log flume is a flume specifically constructed to transport lumber and logs down mountainous terrain using flowing water.

Where is Rollerville? Rollerville (sometimes called Flumeville) was just north of Point Arena. How did it get its name …….

The Garcia Mill was located up the Garcia River – it comes out to the sea at Gualala. A railroad wasn’t feasible to haul the cut lumber to the coast because of the terrain. Getting the lumber to close to the coast (six miles?) a flume was constructed. Here you can see the cut lumber being placed in the flume.

Loading lumber into the Rollerville Flume

Loading lumber into the Rollerville Flume

The flume stopped in front of a 10o foot high hill. And, how did the lumber get transported from the bottom to the top? A gigantic 24 foot high water wheel powered a hoist.

24 foot high water wheel

24 foot high water wheel

Look very carefully at the photo above. In the middle of the wheel a man is standing.

What happened to the lumber when it got to the top of the hill? Horse and car was used to haul the lumber to the chute that took the lumber from the top of the cliff down to the waiting schooners.

Chute used by Garcia Mill

Chute used by Garcia Mill