I swear, I think that the only place that folks can ask questions is at our model train layout. Today a young family came to me to share what they had found on the beach and what they had found they were very excited about. They had found 4 sand dollars on the beach – two were whole and two were broken. They had a lot of questions and, alas, I had few answers. I promised them I would blog “sand dollars.” Here I go:
Sand dollar is the common name for many flattened species of sea urchins that burrow in the sand, but where exactly did that name come from?
Different types of sand dollars
When dead sea urchins wash ashore, their skeletons, or tests, are bleached white by the sun. Beachgoers thought they looked like a large silver coin like the old American or Spanish dollar. So they started calling them sand dollars. But these sea urchins are also called sand cakes, cake urchins and sea cookies.
What does a sea urchin look like when it is alive?
Live sea urchin
Here’s a few more bits of info about them I got from the Monterey Bay Aquarium:
Their mouth has a jaw with five teeth-like sections to grind up tiny plants and animals.
A sand dollar chews for fifteen minutes before swallowing.
It can take two days for the food to digest.
Scientists can age a sand dollar by counting the growth rings on the plates of the exoskeleton.
Sand dollars usually live six to ten years.
A variety of imaginative associations have been made by beachcombers who collect the bleached skeletons of dead sand dollars. They are sometimes said to represent coins lost by mermaids or the people of Atlantis. Christian missionaries found symbolism in the fivefold radial pattern and dove-shaped internal structures, and a card with an anonymous poem explaining the legend is often given in conjunction with the sale of a sand dollar by merchants. The story compares the holes with the crucifixion wounds of Christ, and other features with the Star of Bethlehem, an Easter lily, a poinsettia, and doves.
And in answer to the question, “Can you paint them?” – the answer is “yes.”
After I had posted the previous blog it occurred to me that there might be vids of the Mendocino Coastline wherein the land owned by the Mendocino Land Trust might be seen. I thought that there might be one or two. I didn’t expect twelve! Anyway I dutifully watched them all. The best, for my money, is the one below taken from an aircraft 1,500 feet up cruising along offshore on an absolutely spectacular day. Watch the vid and then tell me that we don’t live in a wee slice of paradise.
I knew the Land Trust existed and that was about it. Somehow I had this vague notion that they were doing a lot of good for me from the shadows. I’ve passed their place on Franklin Street here in Fort Bragg a zillion times. The Trust came into much sharper focus when I found this advert in, of all places, The Mendocino Travellers Guide – a freebee mag for visitors to our piece of paradise. [Click on the scan to enlarge.]
Mendocino Land Trust Advertisement
Whilst the ad above helps in knowing who they are and what they do I was happy to glean this from their website to learn a bit more:
“Mendocino Land Trust’s mission is to conserve important natural resources of Mendocino County including working farmlands and forests, wildlife habitat, open space, scenic vistas, watersheds and to facilitate public access. The Land Trust provides stewardship and service learning opportunities on lands that it has conserved to engender a more direct connection by people to the land and water of Mendocino County. They promote healthy recreation in natural settings and sustainable experiences for residents and visitors in Mendocino County.”
Thank you VERY much for what you are doing for me and all of us who live here.
What did folks do for fun “back then.” There are lots of books and pictures demonstrating the harshness of life. But fun? There are a few pics of works picnics. In Fort Bragg there were dances most Saturday nights. We know there were brothels and bars. We know there was hunting for deer and bear. But fishing? These are the first pics I have collected showing men fishing. I can’t tell when the pics were taken or where. They are sepia so the chances are they are late 1800s or early 1900s.
Gordon McNutt was a founder member of our club, The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society. His railroad modelling interest was in small gauges – Z and N scale. He had two exquisite layouts in attache cases. When I found the two photos below a bell went off in my brain that Gordon owned and operated the Trout Farm in Fort Bragg. But, who to ask to confirm this? Well, today, his great grandson’s wife came to the layout and generously gave us boxes of stuff that once belonged to Gordon. Whilst she was at the layout I asked her if, indeed, Gordon was the owner of the Trout Farm. “Oh, yes!!” was the answer.
Trout Farm in Fort Bragg
The Trout Farm in Fort Bragg when it was owned by Gordon McNutt
I’ve lived in Fort Bragg since 2000 and I’ve been “doing” local logging history pretty much since I arrived. I thought I knew the whereabouts of all the big trees in Mendocino County but not this one – it has me flummoxed. The sign says it’s the Coolidge Tree.
1930s WOMAN DRIVING CONVERTIBLE CAR THROUGH OPENING IN GIANT SEQUOIA TREE TRUNK COOLIDGE TREE MENDOCINO CALIFORNIA
I looked through my files and could find no mention of it. There’s nothing in Wiki about it. Huh! Well I kept nosing around and found this photo:
Coolidge Tree, Mendocino Co. CA
The writing at the bottom says, “The Coolidge Tree” – “On Redwood Highway. The Coolidge Tree was named after President Coolidge’s father. It was 305′ high and had a circumference of 58′ . The Coolidge Tree was tunneled between 1910 and 1915. The Coolidge tree was cut down in 1938 when it appeared ready to topple and was growing in Underwood Park.” Underwood Park? Never heard of it. Back to the books. According to Wiki, “Underwood Park is an unincorporated community in Mendocino County. It is located near U.S. Route 101 0.25 miles south-southwest of Leggett.” Well the Chandelier Tree is in Leggett. Is this another name for the Chandelier Tree?”