I have been to Usal once since we moved here in 2000. The road is diabolical. I was terrified. I swore I’d never go back. And I haven’t.
Author Katy Tahja has this to say about Usal ……”a mythical area is the Lost Coast. How is a coastline lost and just where is it? As Highway One was built north of Westport at Hardy Creek road engineers looked at the coastline ahead and said, “Forget it!!!!!” Mountains over 1,000 feet tall plunged straight into the Pacific Ocean. So, the road builders turned east to Leggett. Today there is only one way for a vehicle to go through the area – an upaved ridgetop route called Usal Road.”
If you think this is hyperbole just have a look at these maps -the first shows the relationship of Usal to the rest of the world:
The arrow points to Usal. As you can see there is nary a road of any substance anywhere near. This map is a close up of Usal showing the two forks of Usal Creek joining and running down to the sea.
This map shows just how many hills there are in the immediate vicinity.
Wiki tells us this about USAL …… USA Lumber (USAL) Company built a sawmill at the mouth of Usal Creek in 1889 with a 1,600-foot wharf for loading lumber onto coastal schooners, and a 3 miles railroad up Usal Creek to bring logs to the mill. Robert Dollar purchased Usal Redwood Company in 1894. Dollar Lumber Company was running out of timber for their Guerneville mill at the time. In 1896, Dollar purchased the steamship Newsboy to transport lumber from Usal to San Francisco. A fire in 1902 destroyed the sawmill, a warehouse, a school house, and the county bridge over Usal Creek. The railroad was dismantled, and the rails were used by the sawmill at the mouth of Big River. Several buildings including a hotel survived until destroyed by fire in 1969. The former hotel site near the mouth of Hotel Gulch is now a campground for Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.
Hmmm ……. I didn’t know that USAL got its name from USA Lumber Company. Wiki also tells us that USAL had two locos. #498 was a Lima Shay. #1 was a 3 cylinder Lima Shay named the Myra R Wonderly. How this blog started was when I found this shopping out photo of #1.
Club member Mike Aplet told me that the remains of a boiler still exist at USAL. I can assure you I am NOT going there to find out.