The Island of Joy – a brothel – that used to exist in Soldier Bay, Fort Bragg, CA.

This e-mail came out of the blue from Will Hackett:

” ……. I’m a Fort Bragg native son,whose teenage chores included hauling trash to “the dump,” plus area exploration, rock fishing and abalone harvesting. So I’m familiar with coves ’twixt Noyo and Pudding Creek.

Within text of your following linked page, you questioned, “…I wondered if one could see the rock where the Island of Joy exists. Here’s the pic I took. It is in the right location – at the bottom of Elm Street but……. I am not sure.”

You may have since discovered that the once notorious island is actually much closer, about a hundred yards north of the former dynamite shack. During a minus tide it is easily accessible from a well-worn path down to the location now called “Treasure Cove,” accessed from the loop off The Coastal Trail nearest the dynamite shack  With a strong arm, the island is a stone-throw from the northernmost bench and mentioned Treasure Cove trailhead on the loop.”

Well Will until your e-mail arrived my ignorance was bliss!! Will goes on:

“The attached pic include the island and southern bluff area, where two bridge anchorages to the island were established — both very near where the mentioned bench is today.”

Treasure Cove off of Fort Bragg CA

If my luck wasn’t in getting the above e-mail just you wait till you read the follow-up:

“[Will] recalling more regarding the offshore brothel, “Island of Joy” doesn’t ring my bell. I’m recalling something more like house of joy on Paradise Island. Also recalling the island may have been initially claimed by an early Fort Bragg businessman and in-town brothels operator, first name Augustus. Then called Augustus’ Island before its Paradise Island naming.

The following clipped portion of a 2015 Advocate-News article regarding Golden West Saloon, reportedly once owned by Augustus West, with upstairs brothel, seems to confirm some of my recall. Yet its details don’t seem entirely correct, either.

“The Golden West weathered civilization’s advance, which included the dynamiting of Paradise Island, a ‘house of joy’ accessible only by footbridge over the waves to a large rock offshore at the base of Laurel Street. Paradise Island, also owned by Augustus West, was not favored by some of Fort Bragg’s more progressively-minded citizens. After demanding action from local authorities without success, they took up a subscription for explosives and, in their own view, improved Fort Bragg’s moral character all at once. No injuries were reported.”

James Marino, a friend, archeologist and author of Glass Beach: A Field Survey / Fort Bragg, California, guided me to bridge footings at the base of the island, and explored up top with metal detector, so am absolutely certain of its location. Yet I cannot find or recall other related information sources, maybe printed material shelved at Guest House or Kelley House museums. Perhaps you have access to more accurate information from coastal historical society folks.

You’re surely aware of the history-related placard at the dynamite snack, and several at other trail locations. Am guessing it’ll be a long while before we’ll see such signage highlighting history of the island, if ever. ”

Here’s the photo/map supplies by James Marino:

Map showing location of the Island of Joy

Thanks to Will I located the footings of the suspension bridge and just like he wondered if we would ever see a plaque denoting its existence.

Thank you very much Will.

How old do whales and sharks live?

Last Saturday was the worst day I have “worked” the layout. Worked means answered visitor questions and talked to them about our layout (the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Navigation Co.) here in Fort Bragg. The wind was howling. The sheeting rain was horizontal and it was COLD. The layout was packed because it was a holiday weekend and, given the inclement weather, there aren’t too many places you can go for entertainment.

So, there I was freezing my butt at the south end of the layout where the wind was crashing the door closed talking to a couple who wanted to know more about the Point Cabrillo lighthouse. The conversation was sparked by our diorama of Point Cabrillo. I explained that the Point Cabrillo lighthouse was a grand place to visit especially when the whales are passing up and down the coast but perhaps not a good place to visit on a day like to day. Just as they were about to leave their young (10?) son started asking questions about whales and sharks. I did my best to answer but was stumped on the question of how long sharks and whales lived. I asked my fellow docent and he was as clueless as me.

Without too much difficulty my web search armed me with enough info for me to answer the question again – that is if i am ever asked!

The humpback whale is not only one of the best-known whale species in the world, but considered among the most popular. You can find them in every ocean, so anywhere you are, as long as you’re in their breeding or feeding grounds, you might just catch a glimpse of one.

humpback whale old animals mammal
Humpback whale
Known for their lovely singing, humpback whales are not skittish. They’re considered to be quite friendly, and are often curious about that boat passing near them. And while the average humpback whale lives to about 50, there are reports of them reaching the ripe old age of 95.
OK – now for the age of sharks ……..
A shark believed to be the oldest living vertebrate has been discovered — and it could be older than Shakespeare. The massive Greenland shark was found in the North Atlantic ocean by scientists who estimated it is up to 512 years old.
 A Greenland shark is caught by fishermen. One of a group of 28 analysed by scientists is believed to be up to 512 years old (file picture)

A Greenland shark  caught by fishermen.

They used its size to suggest its year of birth is as early as 1505 – when future King Henry VIII ended his engagement to Catherine of Aragon.

Greenland sharks, which only grow 1 cm a year, have been known to live for hundreds of years  Experts used its length – a staggering 18 foott – and radiocarbon dating to determine its age as between 272 and 512 years old, according to a study in journal, Science.  It was the oldest of a group of 28 Greenland sharks analysed for the study.

 Greenland sharks are known for their longevity, living for hundreds of years (file picture)

Greenland sharks are known for their longevity, living for hundreds of years

The Hot Springs near Point Arena on the Garcia River

Everyday I learn something new about the Mendocino Coast. This blog started out with a pic I found on Lynn Catlett’s “You know you’re from Mendocino if …..” Facebook page:

Bath House at the Garcia River Hot Springs

if you click on the pic you’ll see the handwriting clearly. Where were or where are  the Hot Springs and if they were on the Garcia river how come they were near Point Arena? I didn’t know the answer so I started checking maps. This one shows Hot Springs reasonably well:

Hot Springs Map

In the top left corner is Point Arena and in the bottom right corner is Gualala. Route 1 is the orange line that runs from top left to bottom right. The red line shows how you get to the Hot Springs from one of the minor (black) roads.

One more old photo that I found when I was searching for a decent map:

The Hot Springs

So, if you are near Point Arena and want a hot dip ………….


The Aschentrup Family’s Visit to our layout (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Navigation Co. in Fort Bragg Mendocino Co.)

This recent e=mail tells the story of these pics:

On Oct 21st we visited the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and we want to say Thanks again for your great explanations and the nice little tour through the Workshop that you had given to us. In this Email you will find some photos our daughter Antonia had taken through our visit. ………..

Bonzo the dog watching the Minions racing rail car get a tune up

Checking out the water level in the tank at the Carlson farm

Coming through Tunnel #1

Frank Davis explaining how a hayrick boom worked

The Aschentrup Familys son testing our yet be installed mega diesel sound maker

Tony Phillips teaching the Aschentrup familys daughter how to sound our diesel horn

Tony Phillips with the Aschentrup familys daughter sounding our diesel horn

The Aschentrup Familys daughter seeing for herself just how old redwood trees can be

And this (I think) is a family project:

Model Diorama in the making

Thank you Antonia.






Whale Rock on Seaside Beach 10 miles north of Fort Bragg, CA

Although Fort Bragg is on the Pacific Coast there are few beaches and access to beaches. One popular beach access point is ten miles north of Fort Bragg. Seaside Beach is popular for the amount of sandy beach and also, ask our dogs, because dogs are allowed off leash. There is a large rock about two thirds of the way down the beach the locals call “whale rock.” Our dogs know it well – great sniffingtons!!!! When you approach the rock from the north the outline of the whale isn’t that apparent. When you walk from the south back to the parking area the whale is VERY apparent. I have a dozen of so photos of the rock but none as good as this one:

Whale Rock on Seaside Beach about 10 miles north of Fort Bragg CA