Big River News – A monthly news digest for the coastal Mendocino County

I was in our new library sifting and sorting through a pile of donated magazines when I came across the two pages you see below:

Big River News - November 1984 front page

Big River News – November 1984 front page

Big River News - front page February 1985

Big River News – front page February 1985

I have been the historian for our club for ten years or more but I have never heard of nor seen this “mag.” To say the least I am intrigued. I have just two front pages. If anyone has more or knows more I would be delighted to hear from them.

Big trees

I have a large collection of pics of big trees. The big ones fascinate me. My book collection – now part of the Club’s library – contains all the big tree books I have come across since I moved here in 2000. Before 2000 I was an urbanite and did not know of the majesty of the “big one”. Enough of my claptrap here are pics that I particularly like:

[Click on any pic to see the gallery and pics full size.]

Boom Camp on Big River in Mendocino

When I found the pics I could barely see what they were about. After playing with all the controls on my pic proggy I did somewhat enhance them:

Old photo #1 of Big River, Mendocino

Old photo #1 of Big River, Mendocino

Old photo #2 of Big River, Mendocino

Old photo #2 of Big River, Mendocino

Not good eh? Things did improve when they were converted to grayscale. I don’t know exactly where the photos were taken on Big River. However, they must have been taken 4 to 7 miles inland where the river narrows.

Boom Camp on Big River Mendocino

Boom Camp on Big River Mendocino

Jam of logs on Big River

Jam of logs on Big River

 

 

 

Big River, Mendocino – Aftermath of Flood

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s there were quite frequent floods along the Mendocino coast. Whilst I haven’t actually found pictures of places flooded I did find this pic which shows what had to be cleaned up after a flood on Big, River Mendocino.

Big River Flood Aftermath in early 1900s

Big River Flood Aftermath in early 1900s

Note the flimsiness of the track.

River Log Drive

Alas, I have yet to find a vid of logs being “driven” down Big River in Mendocino – the only river along the Mendocino Coast susceptible to such an operation. I know logs jams were routinely “blown up” with gunpowder – I have pics of that happening. Therefore any vid showing a river log drive is definitely of interest. This clip is an excerpt from “Timber on the Move: A History of Log Moving Technology,” a documentary film from the Forest History Society: https://foresthistory.org/documentary…

Hell’s Gate Dam on Big River

Dams were used by the Mendocino mill on Big River to bring the cut logs to the mill. The Mendocino Lumber Company was “famous” for damming Big River. With rare exceptions, dams along Big River were used only during the winter season. Logs were stored in the stream beds. Winter rains furnished the freshet (body of water) for floating the logs down river, but in most cases, did not. Dams were then used to build up a reservoir of water. When the dams were tripped (blown up), a flood was created along with a “head.” A head is similar to the shore side of an ocean wave. Near the dam, a head might begin as high as 10 feet dropping to three-foot height 15 miles down river. A higher head, which would result in being able to float more logs a greater distance, would be obtained by tripping/blowing up more than one dam in succession. This, for sure, was in the days before environmentalists were invented.

We have modeled Hell’s Gate dam on our layout without much help in the form of old photos. Hence these three photos will be very valuable when we work on our Big River diorama in the coming winter. Click on the photos to enlarge them

Hell's Gate dam being built

Hell’s Gate dam being built

Hell's Gate Dam.

Hell’s Gate Dam.

Hell's Gate Dam

Hell’s Gate Dam

 

Climbing a Big Old One alongside Big River

These were taken by Jerry (Gerald F.) Beranek or his friends – they were climbing an old one that Gerry had located for fun. Whilst up the tree they made it “look beautiful”.

Proof there are some big ones left

Proof there are some big ones left

Starting up

Starting up

Showing how you climb a tree

Showing how you climb a tree

Cleaning out the dead stuff

Cleaning out the dead stuff

Taking a break

Taking a break

On the way down

On the way down

These pics were taken getting there and from the top of the tree Gerry and his friends climbed

Taken from Gerry's skiff

Taken from Gerry’s skiff

Early morning mist

Early morning mist

From the top of the bil ole one

From the top of the big ole one

Great pics.

The Pomo of Big River, Mendocino

Somebody out there loves me! In response to my last blog on the local Pomo Native Americans and the paucity of information about them I received an e-mail pointing me to the website of the Stanford Inn in Mendocino. Stanford Inn? You jest? No ….. just read the extract below from the website about the Pomo who lived on and around Big River at Mendocino.

The Mitom Pomo – Early Settlements

Big River’s two histories, one natural and the other cultural, converged sometime in the last 10,000 years. Ten thousand years ago, the sea level was some 300 feet below where we know it today and Big River was 3 1/2 miles longer. There was no Mendocino headland. Big River cut through a marine escarpment emptying into the Pacific. The lower sea level allowed Asians to cross to North America. Among them were people of the Hokan language family who made their way south and settled in California. The Pomo, a distinct and isolated Hokan group, occupied what are now Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties.

When the Pomo arrived is not known, nor do we know what they found. They may have lived along a coast now buried underwater but nevertheless, by the time Europeans arrived they were well established in Mendocino County. The Me-tum’mah, or Mitom Pomo, lived in the area of Little Lake Valley near Willits and claimed the coast from south of the Noyo River at what is now Fort Bragg, to just north of the Navarro River, eighteen miles south.

Big River is the principle stream draining land from just west and south of Willits. The area was prolific. Near Willits were abundant oaks producing the Mitom’s dietary staple, acorns. To the west was Big River and the Pacific teeming with wildlife and importantly, kelp, a source of salt. To make tools, the Mitom traded with the another Pomo group, the Mato who made their coastal encampment north of the Noyo River. The Mato had direct access to obsidian, a volcanic glass, used to make points (arrow and spear heads) scrapers and other tools. Bits of obsidian can still be found throughout the Mendocino area.

The Mitom called their coastal camp “Bool-dam”or Buldam signifying “big holes” for the blowholes on the headlands at Mendocino and Russian Gulch.

Buldam was not a permanent home for the Mitom until they sought to escape the influx of Europeans settling Little Lake Valley. They permanently moved to Buldam in approximately 1850.

Households were setup near freshwater springs and occasionally artifact remnants can be found, including pieces of worked obsidian, broken pestles used for grinding and worked pieces of chert. The fate of the Mitom is not clearly known. Some were part of 200 Pomos who were rounded up by the U.S. Army in the early 1850’s and removed from the coast.

How about them onions!!!!!!

View from Stanford Inn (taken from the Stanford Inn website) that the Pomo would have had

View from Stanford Inn (taken from the Stanford Inn website) that the Pomo would have had of Mendocino Bay