The Coolidge Tree in Underwood Park, Mendocino County

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.


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?”

Chandelier Tree in Leggett, Mendocino County

Can anyone help please?


Deer on a Mendocino Coast Beach

Until I saw these two photos it had never occurred to me that deer went onto the beach. I have no idea if this is a rare or regular event. I asked wife, Sarah, about it – she goes to the beach very frequently with her hounds – and she said she had never seen a deer anywhere a beach.

Stags sparring on a Mendocino Coast Beach

Stags sparring on a Mendocino Coast Beach


Deer  leaving the water on a Mendocino Coast beach

Deer leaving the water on a Mendocino Coast beach

These pics were in one of Lynn Catlett’s, “You know if you are from Mendocino if……………..” Facebook page.

If anyone can shed any light on the dubject of deer on beaches I’d be happy to hear from them.


Unloading Lumber from the Mendocino Coast in Stockton

Stockton is located on the San Joaquin River in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Built during the California Gold Rush, Stockton’s seaport serves as a gateway to the Central Valley and beyond. It provided easy access for trade and transportation to the southern gold mines. A lot of the cut lumber from the mills along the Mendocino Coast went to San Francisco and the towns along the California Delta.

Whilst our blogs and website have many pics of steam and sailing schooners being loaded this is the first I have come across showing Mendocino Coast being unloaded. The pic appears in the Haggin Museum, Stockton.

Unloading Mendocino Coast cut lumber in Stockton CA

Unloading Mendocino Coast cut lumber in Stockton CA

I found the pic on Lynn Catlett’s “You know you are from Mendocino if ……. “

The Weller House in Fort Bragg, CA

Not too long back a couple visiting our layout (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Navigation Co.) asked me if I knew the history of the tall converted water tower you can see from the layout to the north. I told them what little I knew – that it was a historical building. Well I can now do a bit better than that.

The Weller House is a historic Victorian house that is now a bed & breakfast. Built in Fort Bragg for Horace Weller in 1886, the Weller House is the oldest existing house in the city. Expanded a year later, it came to include three stories with 10 rooms, including a 1,600 square feet ballroom. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The redwood that lines the ballroom is quite spectacular.

It wasn’t always a B&B – this pic was taken when it was a museum:

Weller House when it was a museum

Weller House when it was a museum

Here’s a pic of the plaque showing its historic designation :

Weller House historic plaque

Weller House historic plaque

The Weller House today

The Weller House today



Kibesillah, Mother of Fort Bragg

Kibesillah is pronounced cab-huh-silluh. Depending who you talk to the name is either from the Pomo words Kabe (rock) and sila (flat) or it means “Head of the Valley”. Kibesillah was also known as  “The Mother of Fort Bragg”

This edited article comes from a website called, “Mendocino in my heart.””

“To walk the rolling hills in this lush area 12 miles north of Fort Bragg, it’s difficult to imagine the   bustling towns of Kibesillah and Newport that once overlooked the Pacific Ocean. Although many people may not know it, Fort Bragg is the direct descendant of Kibesillah.”

So wrote Budd Salsig in his article, “Kibesillah, Mother of Fort Bragg,” in the 1935 Fort Bragg High School yearbook, Breath of Ocean. Budd Salsig’s family were pioneers in Pt. Arena, south of Mendocino. Many have written or excerpted articles about Kibesillah and Newport, but Budd Salsig’s description is one of the more colorful:

“In its prime, Kibesillah consisted of numerous hotels, a couple of stores, several harness shops, a church and a   generous complement of saloons. Its chief support was its business in lumber, ties, bark and posts. The sawmill that had been erected at Kibesillah was very soon moved to Ten Mile. The mill didn’t run during the rainy season, and during that time the saloons were overflowing with gamblers, drunken tie makers and other mill employees. Stacks of $20 gold pieces decorated tables everywhere. The population went around dressed most viciously, usually carrying large knives or pistols.”

Kibesillah and the neighboring town of Newport were definitely wild Western towns, but they were not uncivilized. Kibesillah was home to a weekly newspaper, the North Coast Review, and the district office for the North Pacific Telegraph Company. More than one church thrived in Kibesillah, and by 1878, the Blue Ribbon Temperance League had a firm grip on the town. Newport, its neighbor one mile to the south, was the site of the lumber chute and sawmill and, at various times, the company store, the power plant and the foreman’s house.”

And today? Nowt, not even a sign. This pic may well show all that’s left:

tween Kibisillah and Westport

Barn between Kibisillah and Westport

From Wages Creek to Westport by Train for the first time on November 21st, 1917

Westport still exists. Wages Creek exists only as a sign. They were/are north of Fort Bragg along CA Route 1. The map below (courtesy of our webmaster Roger Thornburn) shows the road between the two places today.

Westport and Wages Creek from a USGS Topo Map

Westport and Wages Creek from a USGS Topo Map

Now let me quote you a clip from the Fort Bragg Advocate of November 21, 1917,

The driving of the golden spike was quite an event Saturday afternoon. The railroad was completed and the train came in bringing all Hickey’s men from Wages Creek. George Fee drove the spike and Judge Roach spoke a few words in honour of the railroad and Mr. Hickey then treated all the ladies and children to candy and the men to cigars. Mr Hickey rented the moving picture house from Mr Ramsdell and invited everyone to a free show. There was a large crowd.

I confess …… I didn’t this little seven mile railroad existed. But, it did as this map (exhumed by Roger Thornburn) shows:

Westport to Wages Creek Railroad Map

Westport to Wages Creek Railroad Map

Another little bit o’ history!

Donner Party Survivor in Rose Memorial Cemetery, Fort Bragg, CA

I got a lead on this one from Lynn Catlett’s Facebook page, “You know you’re from Mendocino if ……. ” What follows comes from a site entitled, “Mendocino in my Heart.”

“A large “Red Men” fraternal order monument at Rose Memorial Cemetery in Fort Bragg includes the name  Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy Foster, a survivor of the Donner Party, and the family of her sister, Minnie Foster Markle. Born November 24, 1826,  Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy and her husband, William McFadden Foster were members of the ill-fated Donner Party in the winter of 1846-47. They were traveling west with their young son, George, and Sarah’s mother. After being stranded in the snow at Truckee (now Donner) Lake for two months, provisions were running low. Desperate to get help, 15 of the strongest people were selected to get help. The group consisted of 10 males and 5 females, including Sarah and William Foster. Later called the “Forlorn Hope,” the group left on December 16, 1846, swearing to get across the mountains and into California,  or die trying.

Somehow, seven (two men and all five women) survived the 33 days of travel, which brought them to Johnson’s Ranch, 35 miles east of Sutter’s Fort, on January 17, 1847. Sarah A.C. Murphy Foster’s three-year-old son, Jeremiah “George” Foster, was left behind with his grandmother, Levinah Murphy, in the Murphy Cabin at Donner Lake, but both perished. After her husband, William M. Foster died in 1874, Sarah moved to Mendocino County. She lived at or near Kibesillah – a town north of Fort Bragg till she died in 1906.”

Her tombstone is in the Rose Memorial Cemetery in Fort Bragg.

Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy Foster

Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy Foster

Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy Foster's Headstone

Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy Foster’s Headstone