Before lumber mills dotted the landscape, the land surrounding what would become the city of Fort Bragg was home to Native American Indians, most of whom belonged to the Pomo tribe. They were hunter-gatherers who lived along the northern coast of California. In 1855 a party from the Bureau of Indian Affairs visited the area looking for a site to establish an Indian reservation. In the spring of 1856, the Mendocino Indian Reservation was established at Noyo. It was 25,000 acres extending north from what is now Simpson Lane to Abalobadiah Creek, and east from the Pacific Ocean to Bald Hill.
In June 1857, First Lieutenant Horatio G. Gibson established a military post on the Mendocino Indian Reservation. He named the camp for his former commanding officer Captain Braxton Bragg, who later became a General in the Army of the Confederacy. Its purpose was to maintain order on the reservation. The fort was not long-lived. The post was abandoned in October 1864. The Mendocino Indian reservation was discontinued in March 1886 and the land opened for settlement several years later. The land of the reservation was offered for sale at $1.25 per acre to settlers. The last remaining building of the Fort Bragg military post was re-located to 430 North Franklin Street.
I have found a history of Fort Bragg that was published in the Fort Bragg Advocate in September 1964. The quality ain’t great but it is legible if you click on it to enlarge it:
Fort Bragg history Part I
Fort Bragg history Part II
As for pictures or drawings they are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Here’s what I have:
Fort Bragg 1857
The building on the left in the picture above is now on Franklin Street.
Fort Bragg in 1888
Fort Bragg in 1890
If anyone has early photos of Fort Bragg I’d love to have copies of them.
This movie seems to have been made by the Parks service. If you aren’t from here it shows the great bike trail and walking trail from the south end of FB to the north end of McKerricher State Park. If you are from around here it’s a gentle reminder that we do, indeed, live in a paradise.
Whilst the Union Lumber Company (ULC) loaded lumber off of the 980 foot long pier in Soldier Bay off of Fort Bragg lumber was also loaded “under the wire” off of the cliff on the north side of the Noyo River. Here’s the pics I have collected showing loading in progress:
[Click on the photos to enlarge]
Loading by a sling
Rohilla loading under the sling
1909 Bark British Yeoman being loaded under the wire in Noyo Harbour
I am the historian of the train club here in Fort Bragg so you would think that I know a bit about the town as it was. Now, I confess I gave up drinking more years ago than I can remember so I have no real interest in bars. I do know though that there were a lot of bars and a lot of brothels in Fort Bragg “for the boys” when they came in from the woods. One, the Golden West, still exists just as it was back then. Based on the pic below the Log Cabin Bar was pretty well known/famous. Alas, until I saw the photo I had never heard of it. So, can anybody help me out with more info/history?
When I come from my home to the club’s layout I pass over Pudding Creek. Nobody seems to know how it got its name. There seems to be no connection to any Pomo Native American name. The best guess is that the original name was, “Put it in” creek and that was corrupted to Pudding.
The first lumber mill to the north Fort Bragg was beside Pudding Creek – see picture below taken about 1897.
Mill beside Pudding Creek in 1897
To service the mill Pudding Creek was dammed. In the bottom right hand corner of the pic below you can see the dam. Behind this dam there used to be a huge log pond which held up to 20 million feet of timber as this picture shows.
Pudding Creek Log Pond
After the mill was closed the dam was left. The only change waqs to add a fish jump as you can see below:
Pudding Creek dam before the pond became overgrown
Soon after I came to Fort Bragg in 2000 I became fast friends with Hank Simonson.
Hank was born in 1917. Hank’s father had emigrated from Finland and come to Fort Bragg to join Hank’s uncle falling trees. His father and uncle emigrated to escape from the Russian pogrom. Hake, Hank’s real name in Finnish, was born nine months after his mother arrived. Hank’s family, like many immigrant families, spoke their native language at home and he did not hear and learn English until he went to school. Hank’s father played the violin and his brother was accomplished on several instruments. The Finns were a large community in Fort Bragg and had their own Sulo band – here’s a picture of the band:
Fort Bragg Sulo Band
The Band had ceased to exist many years before I knew Hank. My one and only experience of Finnish Poetry and Folk Songs came when Hank and his beloved wife Flo and I attended what may well have been the last evening of Finnish Folk Song and Poetry ever held in Fort Bragg. Per Wiki, “The folk music of Finland is typically influenced by Karelian traditional tunes and lyrics of the Kalevala metre. Karelian heritage has traditionally been perceived as the purest expression of Finnic myths and beliefs, thought to be spared from Germanic and Slavic influences. ” I was very polite and said I liked it but in all truth I didn’t understand a word of it!
Now you know how I got “into” Finnish Folk Music and Poetry.
Whilst most of our train Club members think I am a right pillock I do have an appreciation of classical music. Recently I have been listening to a VERY talented Finnish violinist named Pekka Kuusisto. Whilst looking up his music up on YouTube I found this vid which is both hilarious and enables you to learn Finnish.
This map first appeared tucked away in the back of a Western Railroader. It was recently the subject of some correspondence I had with a gentleman who works for Jackson State Forest. Webmaster Roger Thornburn was in on the correspondence and used his magical computer skills to enhance the original.
As historian for the club I should have been knowledgeable of the great detail on the map. Not only does the map show the location of the Caspar Lumber Company’s twenty logging camps it also shows the location of its three inclines. Not only do we get the Caspar Railroad the CWR’s railraod is shown as is the Mendocino Lumber Compamy’s railroad tracks. If that wasn’t enough you can see Route 20, Highway 1 and the Comptche Ukiah Road. Last, but not least, it shows that the choice of path for all three railroads was along the side of rivers and streams. Have a gander for yourself. You’ll need to click on the map to see all the details I have described.