“King Giant”, Redwood, California

I don’t often probe into the Library of Congress archives. When I do I seem to end up with more mysteries than I started out with. This photo was in two pieces when I found it on the Library of Congress. I have tried to stitch it back together but have failed. There was nothing in writing to say when it was taken or when it was taken. If anyone has any info PLEASE let me know.

“King Giant” Redwood


Pelicans along the Mendocino Coast – Part 2

My favorite bird is the Great Blue Heron. An easy second is the Pelican. I thought that Ogden Nash Dixon wrote this limerick. He didn’t,  Lanier Merritt, editor of The Tennessean, wrote it:

A wonderful bird is the pelican.

His bill can hold more than his belican.

He can hold in his beak

Enough food for a week,

But I’m damned if I see how the helican.

I have tried to take pics of the Pelican. The last time I tried I got 17 pics of the sea and NO Pelicans.  They look prehistoric. And, there is a  reason. Pelicans appeared a hundred million years ago and “reached the peak of diversity” around 65 million years back. No kidding. The oldest intact pelican fossil is from thirty million years ago and reveals that our modern version is nearly identical to his ancestor, but smaller.

Pelican anatomy is practical. Bulky bodies, long necks, short legs, short, square tails, and long beaks look awkward but are accessorized with the stylish pelican throat bag; a stretchy pouch of naked skin hangs from the jaw and holds up to three gallons, two to three times more than its belly can.  Such big birds’ flight would seem limited. The bird is clumsy taking flight, simultaneously running on water with pounding feet and flapping wings, but aerodynamics lighten his load: air pockets in the bones connected to respiratory airways that lie under skin of throat, breast, and wings to add buoyancy, and a “fibrous layer” in the breast keeps wings horizontally steady for graceful gliding with heads against shoulders, necks tucked in. He hops aboard thermal updrafts, soaring up to ten thousand plus feet—then flies low, skimming the water surface, wings compressing air to greater density, getting a “ground effect,” an upward draft beneath him, and conserves energy, a vital issue to pelicans who travel daily up to ninety-three miles in single file lines or sometimes in V formation to and from feeding grounds. Some of those anatomical features are also crucial to feeding.

Fortunately for me there are folks who have good cameras (and not Kodak Brownies like me) and know how to use them. See the gallery below:

[Click on any photo to see full size]

Derailment of Two California Western Railroad (CWR) Prairie (2-6-2t) Locos north of Cleone on CWR’s Ten Mile Branch – Maybee?????

A few days ago a gentleman named Mervin Mahler sent me four photos that I believe were taken from a scrapbook or photo album. I have separated them and you can see them below:

Derailment crew

Derailment #1

Derailment #2

Derailment #3

In his e-mail Mervin said …… “I received this with a group of Rockport photo’s. I know that these engines would not be [from there]. Have you seen these engines before? Willits to Eureka line?”

I wrote back ……….  Attached is the picture of the train crew which I have converted to black and white and enlarged. If you look behind the left gentleman’s elbow it looks like rocks or possibly a pier in the water. Looking along the line of the right hand gentlemen’s shoulder to the edge of the photo looks like cliffs. The ground in all the photos looks very sandy.”

Derailment crew converted to b & w and enlarged

I continued ….. “One engine is a 2-6-2 and has #1 on it so I’ll search to see what pics I have of 2-6-2’s and get back to you.  So, your guess of Rockport I think is a good one. My guess would be the Ten Mile Branch not too far from Ten Mile river.”

I started to go through my collection and homed in on the Western Railroader devoted to the CWR. Shonuff there they were:

CWR Locos 11 and 12

The final question is where the derailment happened. Well, the only place that I know of that the CWR went near the sea was on the Ten Mile Branch. This photo shows the route of Ten Mile branch along the dunes by Inglenook Fen.

Coast line along Inglenook Fen with path of Ten Mile branch marked

This pic is for the same stretch of coast taken from the above.

Google map of location of Inglenook section of the Ten Mile Branch

Anyone have more info or better ideas?


Union Pacific’s (UP) Big Boy (4-8-8-4) on display in Omaha

Over 40 years ago I lived in Omaha. Whilst there I managed to wangle a visit to UP’s shops. I took photos I know but can I find them? No way, Jose.

The exhibit you are about to see did not exist when I was there. The vid shows a Big Boy on display. I learned of it courtesy of a heads up from our Club’s (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Historical Society) VP, Lonnie Dickson. Lonnie worked for SP (Southern Pacific) and UP after the merger of the two for his entire career.

Pretty cool eh?

Pomo Native American Tule Reed Canoes

The blog started off when I found this pic on Lynn Catlett’s “You know you are from Mendocino if ……”:

Tule Reed Canoe on Clear Lake (Lake Co, CA.)

Something told me I knew more about a canoe on Clear Lake (in Lake County, CA). But what? A week or so after garnering the photo I was in the weed patch shovelling horse poop when it hit me.

Soon after we came to Fort Bragg in 2000 my sister Karen came to visit. By a collective decision (wife Sarah and the tribe of four kids) a trip to Lakeport was decided upon. It was ghastly hot so the  all but went pedaloing on the Lake. I toddled off to the Museum to see if they had any examples of obsidian arrow heads used by the Pomo Native Americans. And much to my gratification there was a superb collection of arrowheads and spear points – see below:

Pomo native American obsidian arrowheads and spear tips

I was very surprised to see a canoe there. At the time I never knew that the Pomo Native Americans built canoes. The canoe is still there …….

Pomo Native American Tule Reed Canoe in the Lakeport Museum

Pomo Native American Reed Canoe in the Lake Port Museum

Being one who wants to know the ins and outs of everything I learned that the reeds used were Tule reeds. I had heretofore always associated the word “Tule” with fog. Wrong again!

Tule (pronounced too-lee) is a plant that has been a part of California Indian culture for millennia. It is one of the most versatile plants in California, and multiple species grow in different environmental regions. Two major species in California are the common tule and California bulrush.

Bundle of Tule Reeds

Tule is related to papyrus, one of the most famous plants worldwide due to its use by the ancient Egyptians. Early surveyors to California lauded the potential of tule for paper products, due to its similarity to papyrus. The industry never took off, to the benefit of the plant, but those early accounts reveal the richness of the resource two centuries ago. Tule used to thrive all over California. Essentially, as long as there was a waterway, there was tule. Tule can grow in any type of freshwater—along rivers, lakes, and estuaries, both near the coast and inland. Huge tule fields spanned the state. There used to be a large tule field in the center of Santa Barbara, which the Schmuwich Chumash called Kaswa’ (place of the tule). Early photographs from the turn of the twentieth century reveal tule fields in Pomo Native American territory near Clear Lake; community members used those tules to build traditional dwellings. The Pomo tribes say the tule along Clear Lake is not doing very well.

Tule Reeds being cut by a Pomo Natibe American woman at Clear Lake

As a water-loving plant, tule has faced a multitude of threats due to drastic landscape changes over the past two centuries. For example, the former Tulare Lake in Central California, was named for the rows of tule plants that lined its shores. This lake used to be the largest freshwater body of water in California, home to tule elk (also named after the plant, one of the elk’s primary food sources), waterfowl, fish, and mussels. By the 1930s the lake had completely dried up, due to the conversion of land for agriculture and ranching in the Central Valley. The loss of Tulare Lake severely impacted the cultural traditions of the Yokuts peoples, who have lived in that area for thousands of years.

The health of the water also impacts tule. Although tule is mostly used as a building material, it is also a traditional food source. Native California peoples ate the white tuber portion of the root that goes down into the water. Today, the water that tule grows in is often stagnant and polluted.

Tule Reed canoe on the water

Tule Reed Canoe on the bank by Tule Reeds

Modern Tule Reed Canoe




Mendocino Coast Model Railroad located in Fort Bragg, CA. – Dates and Times Open

We are OPEN from 10:45 to 1:15  Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We are CLOSED Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Covid19 Information

The majority of volunteers working at the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Historical Society are over the age of 65 and in a higher risk category for contracting Covid19. Each volunteer is invested and motivated to stay healthy and safe as possible for themselves and our guests. We ask all our visitors to honor the work and dedication of our volunteers by observing and adhering to the Covid19 guidelines and requirements issued by the CDC, State of California, and Mendocino County.

When visiting our museum and active displays, we require the following of all our guests:

  • Understand that all displays are outside.  The interior of our research library and the interior of the layout are currently closed to visitors.
  • Anyone over 2 MUST wear a mask at all times
    • If you don’t have a mask, ask for one.  We will be happy to provide you one
    • Show you care, wear a mask
  • You MUST practice social distancing
    • There are signs and markings to help you keep your distance from those not in your immediate group.
  • You must NOT touch any surface, trains or any parts of the displays
  • You MUST conform to our volunteer’s instructions and directions
  • Use hand sanitizer provided in our upright stations
  • Understand that if someone is not willing to comply with these safety guidelines, we will be forced to ask all visitors to leave and close the layout for the remainder of the day.

Our G Scale logging layout (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Navigation Co.)  has seven trains running on it when in full operation.  When possible our Ain’t Goin Nowhere Railroad (which features our very large locomotives) is also open.

Because of Covid 19 our space where The Little People can play trains is closed.


  • Free with a Skunk Train ticket.
  • If not riding the Skunk Train:   Adults – $5.00; Children – $3.00

Rainbows along the Mendocino Coast

Rainbows are as rare as hen’s teeth along the Mendocino Coast. My grandma used to tell me that a rainbow meant it was a monkey’s birthday – don’t ask I don’t know. These pics are the result of several years of collecting. I’d like to thank those who took the pics – regretfully I can’t thank each personally.

Click on any photo to see full size and initiate the gallery.

Rockport – The Finkbine-Guild Lumber Company

The website has info on Rockport here. In this blog there are several blogs about Rockport – use “Rockport” in the word search.

Initially pictures and info on Rockport were as scarce as hen’s teeth. As time has progressed many of the initial ones have re-appeared over and over again. Those in this post are new to me.

Click on any photo to see full size and activate the gallery.