A Waterfall in Fort Bragg – Belinda Point Beach

We have lived here for nigh on 16 years and I have never heard about it. Wife Sarah found out about it when chatting to webmaster Roger Thornburn and his wife Nancy’s friend Ellen. Sarah is always looking for somewhere to let loose bf (black fiend, 7 months , 65 pounds) and lfs (little fat sod, 5 months, 45 pounds). I know there is a waterfall at Jug Handle Beach but had NO knowledge of one within the precincts of Fort Bragg. Well here is the pic I took:

Belinda Point Waterfall

Belinda Point Waterfall

Well it ain’t Niagara but it IS a waterfall and it IS in Fort Bragg. The path to the beach was totally empty and there was but one person on the beach. As you can see bf and lfs thought it was great:

bf and lfs brawling in the surf

bf and lfs brawling in the surf

Where is it? Here’s the website we used to get there. Click on the map icon to see how to get there. It’s on the old road to Mendocino. Watch for this sign on your right:

Belinda Point Sign

Belinda Point Sign

Thank you Ellen

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, CA

Glass Beach is one of the things for which Fort Bragg (CA that is) is famous. When I was running our layout today I was, as usual, answering myriad questions. Three of the q’s were about Glass Beach. So, here’s me and Glass Beach explained.

First a confession – in the 16 years we have lived in Fort Bragg I have been to Glass Beach no more than half a dozen times. It wasn’t till I joined our Model Train Club and met Hank Simonson that I found out that Glass Beach until 1959 was the Fort Bragg Garbage Dump. This was a revelation to me and not for the first time I became the subject of considerable ribaldry at the hands of Club Members.

Glass Beach when it was the Fort Bragg Garbage Dump

Glass Beach when it was the Fort Bragg Garbage Dump

When the Club built its first G Scale layout it was of a logging operation loosely based on Fort Bragg. Hank told Louis Hough (our Club’s first historian) that to get to Glass Beach you went down Elm Street and UNDER the Union Lumber Company’s Ten Mile Branch. Louis and I searched high and low for “proof” that there was indeed an underpass. The search was fruitless. So when we built the layout we built an underpass:

Elm Street Underpass

Elm Street Underpass

Relatively recently Roger Thornburn and I came into possession of Sanborn (very detailed insurance) maps of Fort Bragg. Alas and alack they do not show Elm Street. UGH!!!!!!! So, I still do not know if Hank was right. If you do know PLEASE let me know.

As I said I have been to Glass Beach but a few times. These are pics I have picked up of what purport to be Glass Beach. If they are I can only say that the pics bear NO resemblance to what Glass Beach looked like when I clambered down a very dodgy path to take a look.

If you do decide to visit PLEASE be careful – the beach IS at the bottom of a cliff.

Map of Fort Bragg and Vicinity circa 1925

I love old maps. I had a great time poring over this one. Dating it needed a bit of sleuthing and it had other, new to me info, on the railroads along the Mendocino Coast.

The Ten Mile Branch of the California Western Railway/Union Lumber Company wasn’t opened until 1917 – see here. So, when you look at the old map below first look at the Ten Mile Branch running north out of Fort Bragg. (Click on it and you’ll see it full size).

Map of Fort Bragg and vicinity railways circa 1925

Map of Fort Bragg and vicinity railways circa 1925

Notice that when the railway gets to Ten Mile River it turns inland. One branch goes to Clark Fork Landing and the other goes to Camp 6. Ultimately there were 42 camps along the Ten Mile River and its tributaries. If the Ten Mile Branch didn’t get to Camp 1 till 1917 I am guessing that was not till around 1925 that it reached Camp 6.

The next thing that caught my eye was the route taken by the Glen Blair railroad. The switch to the Glen Blair Branch still exists just before Tunnel #1 three miles or so from the CWR’s Fort Bragg depot. I did not know that you could access Glen Blair from Highway 1 – I assume that the road shown on the map is Little Valley Road.

Next item of interest is along the Caspar Railroad. Follow the railroad all the way to the end and you’ll see the place name “Dunlap” – which was new to me. Given its proximity to Camp 19 – see notation just to the left of Dunlap – I am guessing it may be what I refer to as Camp 20.

Great fun this stuff. Now look below Willits. Can you see “Baechtel” which I am pretty sure was a logging outfit out of Ukiah, But, but, what was the “Cable Log Ry” at the end of the Baechtel road? I have neither heard of it or seen pictures. If anyone has any info please pass it on to me. I am intrigued.

Last, but not least. North out of Willits are two railroad lines – one extant – the NWP (Northwestern Pacific) and the other, abandoned, went to Sherwood. In our page about the owner of the NWP you can read that the town now known as Brooktrails was formerly Northwestern and the site of the Diamond D mill. The map shows the abandoned line turning west out of Sherwood heading close to where the CWR/Union Lumber Company’s last Camp was located. I had no idea how far the Sherwood line extended west.

Now, don’t forget I am an accountant and came to live here in Fort Bragg in 2000. I am not an “old-time logger” and am very happy to be corrected.

Where did I get the map from. I don’t know – it was loose inside an old book on logging railroads I bought from Amazon. I suspect that it was part of a Western Railroader. If anyone recognizes the map and knows of the source, again I’d be delighted to know.


Island Of Joy Brothel, Fort Bragg, California

At one time Fort Bragg “boasted” of having 37 brothels of which this, The Island of Joy, was one. Fort Bragg’s most famous brothel was reached by a suspension bridge! It was located off of Fort Bragg on a rock at the foot of Elm Street – see picture below.

Island of Joy

Island of Joy

The suspension bridge pictured above took “patrons” out to the Island. The brothel lasted about a decade until it burned down in 1921. The local paper reported that “the town was blessed” when it burned. Several patrons are believed to have drowned when they fell  from the suspension bridge whilst under the affluence of incahol.

Very recently a mile long stretch of the coastline in Fort Bragg has been opened to the public for the first time in over 100 years. A brand spanking new coastal trail has been installed as a result of the City of Fort Bragg acquiring a strip of land along the cliff tops which used to belong to the Union Lumber Company (and its successors). Check here for details.

Wife Sarah and I were doddling down the trail today with our behemoth of a dog (Princess Molly – a slobbering 10 year old bull mastiff weighing in at a cute 130 pounds) when I wondered if one could see the rock where the Island of Joy existed. Here’s the pic I took. It is in the right location – at the bottom of Elm Street but ……. I am not sure.

Rock off of Elm Street

Rock off of Elm Street

Whilst there are nice signs along the trail I have severe doubts about the City raising one pointing to the Island of Joy!!!

The California State Military Museum, History of Fort Bragg (Camp Bragg)

Many thanks to Luke Clark, President of the Mendocino Coast Stamp Club for the heads up on this one.

Did you know that the U.S. Military had penned a history of its involvement in Fort Bragg? No? Good, ‘cos neither had I. I obtained this material from this site, “The California State Military Museum.” In addition to the following piece by Colonel Herbert M. Hart, USMC (retired), Executive Director, Council on America’s Military Past there is LOTS of very interesting “stuff” on the site. I spent several hours there.


Established in June 11, 1857, Fort Bragg was located about 50 miles south of Cape Mendocino and situated one and a half miles north of tile Noyo River, at the present town of Fort Bragg, Mendocino County. It was established within the Mendocino Indian Reservation for the purpose of both controlling and safeguarding the area’s Indians. Established by 1st Lieutenant Horatio Gates Gibson, 3rd Artillery with a detachment from Company M, the post was named for Captain Braxton Bragg, 3rd Artillery, a Mexican War veteran and later a general in the Confederate Army. There was a period of agitation to have the post’s name changed because of his disaffection but the post retained the name during the Civil War.

In September 1864 many Army units serving in the Humboldt district were ordered south. The steamer Panama left Humboldt Bay October 18, 1864, picked up the Fort Brag g garrison the next day, and arrived at the Presidio of San Francisco on October 20. This constituted the permanent evacuation and abandonment of the post. The Mendocino Indian Reservation was discontinued in March 1866, and tile land opened for settlement several years later.

Detailed History

A young lieutenant’s respect for his first company commander provided the name for Fort Bragg. The respect of others for the same officer caused that name to be retained throughout the Civil War.

Second Lieutenant Horatio G. Gibson was fresh from West Point when he joined the 3d Artillery in time for the Battle of Chapultepec, Mexico, in 1847. A lasting impression was made on him by his captain, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Braxton Bragg, three times breveted in 15 months.

Horatio Albert Gates in centre

Horatio Gates Gibson in centre

Ten years later when First Lieutenant Gibson established an Army post on the Mendocino Indian Reservation in northern California, he had no hesitation regarding a name. Colonel Bragg had left the Army in favor of the life of a Louisiana planter, confining his government service by 1856 to serving as his state’s Commissioner of Public Works. By naming the new camp after this hero of Buena Vista, Gibson felt that at least the Bragg name was back in the service of the Army.

For an artilleryman, the early days of Fort Bragg were especially trying. Men who had been recruited and trained as cannoneers of the 3d Artillery found themselves performing the age-old Army chores of artisans, masons, and hewers of wood. “It is slow work, owing to the scarcity of proper tools,” reported Gibson on June 18, 1857, a week after officially establishing the post. I do not expect to have all necessary buildings completed before the beginning of the rainy season.”

Three months later Gibson could report some progress and the hope of having his command under cover before winter. “I have to report the erection and occupation of three buildings, all of which however are unfinished,” he wrote. “The men are now at work on the officers’ quarters, which ought to be completed within a month. A stable, guardhouse and storehouse have yet to be built.”

The artilleryman came through in this report with a request that the post be provided with its allowance of howitzers.

Fort Bragg was a year old when almost the entire garrison was suddenly rushed to eastern Washington for the Coeur d’Alene War. Gibson was sick when the call came. He ordered 15 of his men to respond to the call. Ten days later he followed them, placing a noncommissioned officer in temporary charge of the post.

Gibson returned to Bragg for a short time after the end of the Coeur d’Alene War, then moved on to be the quartermaster of his regiment. After Civil War duties as a colonel and brevet brigadier general of the 2d Ohio Artillery Volunteers and a hero at Antietam, Gibson returned to the 3d Artillery. He was its regimental commander for the last eight years before his retirement in 1891.

The infantry took over Fort Bragg in early 1859 with a 20-man detachment from Company D, 6th Infantry. The entire company arrived in September. This permitted the garrison to seriously pursue the problems of keeping the Indians peaceful and the settlers at a distance. A small detachment was outposted in Round Valley, 40 miles to the northeast, when it became obvious that the rugged terrain and seasonal floods prevented any rapid movement from Fort Bragg.

Complaints were received at various forts in March 1861, that the Indians were plotting to exterminate the whites. The Fort Bragg garrison was ordered to take to the field. “Keep actively engaged moving over the country requiring protection,” the 60-man expedition was told. The detachment in Round Valley was moved to a halfway point, lessening the resupply problems and putting it closer to supposed threats.

The company was supplied with several members of a newly recruited 30-man company of Volunteers who signed up for three months. Acquainted with the area, they were employed as guides. “They proved to be of invaluable aid to the regular forces, which, indeed, would have been worthless without them,” according to a contemporary and probably exaggerated account.

Soon countercharges were leveled against some of the settlers who were clamoring for Army protection.

“There are several parties of citizens now engaged in stealing or taking by force Indian children from the district in which I have been ordered to operate against the Indians,” reported Lieutenant Edward Dillon, commander of the Fort Bragg field detachment. “As many as 40 or 50 Indian children have been taken . . . This brutal trade is calculated to produce retaliatory depredations on the part of the Indians . . . These men keep the Indians constantly on the alert, attacking and chasing them before us and following in our wake for the purpose of obtaining children.”

After three months of operations, it appeared that the settler complaints had been satisfied. They were willing to admit that the Army’s conduct of the campaign “inspired a hopeful confidence in their good judgment and soldierly qualities,” said a contemporary account. When this resulted in the discharge of the 90-day guides, the writer was quick to announce that the Army had “seized the first opportunity to make a serious mistake . . . The regular soldiers could not fight without the aid and encouragement of the Volunteers, and the Indians knew it. They feared the Volunteers only.” The regulars had similar feelings about the Volunteers, usually suggesting that the Indians feared the undisciplined Volunteers because of the brutal punishments they rendered on any unfortunate captive.

Ironically the longtime Volunteers who took over the post from the regulars in November 1861, had the same opinion of the short-time volunteers. “The mingling of the Humboldt volunteers with the men of my regiment at the same post would be demoralizing and dangerous to the discipline that they have been 18 months acquiring,” stated the commander of the 2d Infantry Regiment, California Volunteers.

One of the final actions of the regular Army before the arrival of the Volunteers was a visit by the Acting Inspector General of the Pacific, Lieutenant Colonel Don Carlos Buell. Noting that outposts were still being sent to Round Valley and the intermediate point, be commented, “Their services are of no value whatever where they are, and I recommend that they be immediately returned to their company.”

Buell passed to the Bragg commander “to make no more attacks on Indians except for depredations actually committed.” Noting that the Indians at Shelter Cove, 40 miles up the coast, had yet to be punished for a recent murder, be ordered Bragg’s garrison “to take measures for the effectual punishment of that band.”

Buell confined the mission to a Fort Bragg detachment on the theory that even if it were defeated, “the Indians will slacken their vigilance” and other forces could attack them successfully. The expedition did not fail, however, nor did several others that returned to the Shelter Cove trouble spot for the next two years.

The garrison was usually suspicious of where the guilt really lay when Indians were charged. On one Shelter Cove campaign, Captain J. B. Moore relayed the report that a settler “took a child from a squaw who happened to be a little to the rear of the party, tied it to a tree, and shot it.” The same man was accused of shooting a defenseless woman to death on a previous trip. The Army was powerless to discipline the citizens, however, and insisted that certain white men were committing depredations “in order to get employment as guides, packers, and business for the horses, mules etc.”

Buell went on to other actions in the Civil War, coincidentally reaching his peak as a major general of Volunteers in command of Federal troops that defeated the Confederate Army of the Tennessee, General Braxton Bragg, C.S.A., commanding.

Bragg’s acceptance of a Confederate commission prompted the commander of the 2d Infantry California Volunteers to recommend a new name for Fort Bragg, “which has long enough borne the name of a traitor.” Nothing came of the suggestion, perhaps because Bragg was out of the Army when be joined the Confederacy, or because his Mexican War comrade-in-arms, Brigadier General George Wright, could still remember the heroism at Buena Vista.

Until the post was abandoned in October 1884, the Fort Bragg name was retained, one of the few named after Confederates that did so.

Today, only the Commissary and a state historic marker, both pictured below, are all that remains of this post.

The only remaining building from the original fort on Franklin Street

The only remaining building from the original fort on Franklin Street

The Lodge at Noyo River, Noyo just south of Fort Bragg, CA

Noyo was Noyo before Fort Bragg was Fort Bragg. Look at this Wells Fargo Pony Express letter addressed to Noyo.

Pony Express Letter to Noyo

Pony Express Letter to Noyo

In its heyday in the 1860’s there were three lumber mills operating full time at Noyo on what is called Noyo flats. It was a bustling community with three hotels, numerous saloons and assorted merchants. On the bluff above Noyo harbour sits the Lodge at Noyo River. The Lodge has been in operation since 1868 until its recent closure for renovations.

The Lodge at Noyo River

The Lodge at Noyo River

Alexander MacPherson, a young Scotsman living in San Francisco was the first to build a logging mill on Noyo Flats. During the construction of the mill he built a home on “Stony Point” and moved his family in. Some say he chose the spot so that he could count the logs from his window as the floated down river. His home has become the Lodge at Noyo River.

In 1908, Mr. Henry Holmes, another gentleman who made his living in the woods, purchased the property. Mr. Holmes was Superintendent of Woods for Charles R. (C.R.) Johnson’s ULC, the Union Lumber Company (then owner of the California Western Railroad – the “Skunk”). He was very likely the highest paid salaried man in the area.

The ULC was in the process of purchasing all the smaller independent mills for consolidation into one large mill on the two mile long property he owned in Fort Bragg. With the closure of the mills on Noyo flats the town moved to Fort Bragg.

Mr. Holmes remodeled and added onto the Noyo River House. A photo of the Holmes family enjoying the patio shortly after the completion of the renovation can be found in one of the hallways. The remodeling installed beautiful board and batten redwood paneling on walls and ceilings the inn. The Scandinavian shipwrights working as carpenters used the finest wood such as choice heartwood fir and clear redwood to create what locals believe to be one of the oldest and finest buildings in Noyo/Fort Bragg.

Bedroom in the Lodge

Bedroom in the Lodge

Fort Bragg by Sylvia E, Bartley – One of the Arcadia Press “Images of America” Series

Fort Bragg by Sylvia E, Bartley

Fort Bragg by Sylvia E, Bartley

I have spent most of my evenings this week finishing up reading the ends of books I started whilst on holidays. I first found out about the existence of this book when club treasurer Steve Worthen brought his copy to our Wednesday morning brekkers meetings, The next time I visited Mendocino I popped into the Gallery Bookshop and grabbed a copy for myself.

The book, like all the Arcadia Press series, is a collection of annotated pictures from “way back then”. The introduction of the book contains an excellent history of Fort Bragg. The first picture section is entitled “the World of the First People” and contains pictures of the Pomo who peacefully inhabited what became of Fort Bragg for thousands of years.

The rest of the book is a cornucopia of images of Fort Bragg and, interestingly, areas around Fort Bragg. Interesting viewing and reading,

Here’s a sample picture.

Sample picture from the book

Sample picture from the book

Noyo, The River and the Town near Fort Bragg California

Whilst I have been “loafing”  200 miles south at Stamford hospital for the last four days   getting chemo, tests et al our website guru, Roger Thornburn, has been incredibly busy working on scanning our latest “treasure” – a book about Noyo.

Before there was Fort Bragg (California that is) the community of Noyo existed on the banks of the River Noyo which now forms the southern boundary of Fort Bragg. A redwood mill and fishing provided the sources of income for the inhabitants. The most comprehensive source of information about the community is the 1986 book “The Noyo” by Beth Stebbins. Through the efforts of Noyo resident, Dusty Miller, we were given permission to add the book in its entirety to the website …… which kept Roger busy whilst I was up to no good down south.

If you click here you can read/look at all 122 pages of this long out of print book that Roger has put into e-form.