Fish Rock – a small place on the Mendocino Coast

Fish Rock (formerly, Fishrock and Conways Landing) is an unincorporated community in Mendocino County, California. It is located 4 miles northwest of Gualala. The Conways Landing post office opened in 1870, changed its name to Fish Rock in 1871, closed in 1873, re-opened in 1885, moved in 1908, and closed for good in 1910.

All the above I got from Wiki. The bottom line is it was never very big. Google did give me a link to a really neat map:

Map showing location of Fish Rock on the Mendocino Coast

Map showing location of Fish Rock on the Mendocino Coast

So, the likelihood of finding a pic of Fish Rock is pretty small. Well, one has turned up:

Fish Rock

Fish Rock

Alas I have NO info of when it was taken.



Here Comes Big Boy!!!!!!! The world’s largest steam locomotive is crossing America

The world’s largest steam engine is making its way across the country, attracting crowds in cities and small towns wherever it goes. The steam engine’s name is Big Boy, and he is a very big boy.The occasion for Big Boy’s restoration was the 150th anniversary of the completion of the 1,900-mile Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory Summit, Utah. Big Boy steamed into Ogden, Utah, for the festivities in May, and then continued his journey. You can track his progress on this interactive map.

Big Boy is 132 feet long and weighs more than a million pounds. That is a lot of feet and pounds!  ALCO produced 25 Big Boy engines starting in the early 1940s, but only eight are still in existence, and only one—the Big Boy, No. 4014—is in operation. Union Pacific acquired the retired engine from a museum in 2013 and spent the past several years restoring it. The engine had previously had been out of commission for six decades, which makes his journey this summer a very big deal to “railfans.”

Big Boy - UP's restored 4-8-8-4

Big Boy – UP’s restored 4-8-8-4

Big Boy is a tremendous hit wherever he goes. In West Chicago, Illinois, Union Pacific estimated that 45,000 people came to see the behemoth; town officials had initially planned for fewer than 10,000. Suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald reported that some small communities along Big Boy’s path have seen their populations triple as he rolls through town. “Thousands turned out to view the engine, whether it was children on their way to Sunday school or travelers from across the continent and around the globe,”

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they had four wheels on the leading set of “pilot” wheels which guided the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels following which supported the rear of the locomotive. The massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyo.

There are seven Big Boys on public display in various cities around the country. They can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Big Boy No. 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941. The locomotive was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service.  Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California, in 2013, and relocated it back to Cheyenne to begin a multi-year restoration process.

I decided to post this after I spoke with a couple today who got up at 2.00 am and drove 9 hours to visit with Big Boy! Can’t see my wife getting up at 2.00 am to see a steam loco. But, you never can tell.

To finish this off I’m adding my latest favorite train song:

Punta Gorda Lighthouse

Club member Jim Williams asked if I could copy a photo of a painting for him. The painting had been bought for a $1 at a local thrift store by an elderly lady friend of Jim’s. The lady wanted to give the copies to friends. The painting photo was of the ruined lighthouse keepers houses belonging to the Punta Gorda lighthouse.

On the back was the story of the painting photo which I scanned and OCRd for Jim:

“After eight shipwrecks occurred between 1899 and 1907 on the rugged and rocky coast south of Eureka, the U.S. Lighthouse Service approved funding to build a light station at Punta Gorda, an 800 foot high cape located 16 miles south of Cape Mendocino. Because the land along the coast there rose steeply from the beach, finding a site for a light station was a challenge. A 22 acre site, a mile south of Windy Point was chosen. The light station consisted of a 27 foot tall lighthouse with a 4th order flashing Fresnel lens, a fog signal building, a blacksmith shop, an oil house and three houses which were similar to the houses being built at Point Cabrillo in 1908. Building material had to be landed on the beach north of the site, then hauled by horses and wagons around Windy Point at low tide.

From 1912 until 1951, the Punta Gorda lighthouse warned ships away from the dangerous offshore rocks. Because winter brought torrential rains, 70 miles per hour winds, and extremely high tides and surf, provisions for the keepers had to be brought in by horse and wagon before November. During the winter, fresh provisions and mail from Petrolia, 11 miles away, had to be brought in on horseback. After World War II, the Coast Guard assumed control of the station and built a road along the edge bluff as far south as Windy Point. When the Mattole River and Ten Mile Creek flooded, the keepers still had to bring in mail and fresh groceries from Petrolia on horseback around Windy Point at low tide.

By 1951, large vessels were using shipping lanes far out to sea and the Coast Guard decided that serving fishermen and occasional yachts was not worth the high cost of maintaining the station. Early in 1951, the Punta Gorda Light Station was closed, the lens was removed, and a light to warn ships away from the rocks was provided by a whistle buoy.

The 22 acre light station was later incorporated into the King Range National Conservation Area which was formally established by Congress in 1970. In 1976, the Punta Gorda lighthouse was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. On a clear day, Punta Gorda can be seen from the Mendocino Coast. Look north for the farthest western point of land which is 65 miles north of Point Cabrillo. The mountain to the east of Punta Gorda is King’s Peak.”

Now, Punta Gorda is a bit north of our Club’s main interest, The Mendocino Coast. Finding a map which shows its location was a chore.

Hikers Map showing the location of Punta Gorda

Hikers Map showing the location of Punta Gorda

As you can see it truly is in the middle of nowhere. This map shows Fortuna as being the nearest town of any size.

Map showing Punta Gorda and nearest town Fortuna

Map showing Punta Gorda and nearest town Fortuna

So what did the Lighthose and Lighthouse keepers houses look like:

Punta Gorda lighthouse keepers houses with the Lighthouse in the distance

Punta Gorda lighthouse keepers houses with the Lighthouse in the distance

A close up of the lighthouse:

The Punta Gorda Lighthouse

The Punta Gorda Lighthouse

In 1951 all aids-to-navigation were discontinued, the buildings boarded up and personnel transferred. The property was transferred to the Bureau of Land Management. In the late 1960s “hippies” moved into the quarters and improved them. Local authorities evicted these people and the Bureau of Land Management burned all the buildings except the Lighthouse and oil house. Punta Gorda was and is a very difficult station to reach. Most of the years it was in operation access was via horse, and during good weather horse-drawn wagon. After the United States Coast Guard assumed command a rough road was constructed (that usually washed out) and a jeep was used for transportation. One Coast Guard career horse, named Old Bill, served the Punta Gorda Light Station as a saddle horse, pack horse, and buggy horse for thirty years until the station closed in 1951.

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Fresnel lens and the flag staff pole were removed many years ago to the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum located near Eureka, California.

The Punta Gorda Light was known as the “Alcatraz of Lighthouses” because of its remote location and difficult access.

Having learned all that here’s what started it all:

Print of the abandoned Lighthose keepers houses at Punta Gorda

Print of the abandoned Lighthose keepers houses at Punta Gorda



July 2019 7.1 earthquake centred on Ridgecrest in Southern California

I’m a natural events freak. I admit it. Ever since the 7.i I have been reading about it.

The Ridgecrest earthquakes of July 4 and 5 occurred north and northeast of the town of Ridgecrest, California and west of Searles Valley, California (approximately 122 miles north-northeast of Los Angeles). There were three main shocks of magnitudes 6.4, 5.4, and 7.1, and many perceptible aftershocks, mainly within the area of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The first main shock (now deemed to be a foreshock) occurred on July 4 at 10:33 a.m. PDT, approximately 11.2 miles ENE of Ridgecrest, and 8.1 mi WSW of Trona, on a previously unnoticed NE-SW trending fault where it intersects the NW-SE trending Little Lake Fault Zone.

This quake was preceded by several smaller earthquakes, and was followed by more than 1,400 detected aftershocks. The M 5.4 and M 7.1 quakes struck on July 5 at 4:08 a.m. and 8:19 p.m. PDT approximately 6 miles to the northwest. The latter, now considered the mainshock, was the most powerful earthquake to occur in the state in 20 years. Subsequent aftershocks extended approximately 30 miles along the Little Lake Fault Zone. Relatively minor damage resulted from the initial foreshock, though some building fires were reported in Ridgecrest near the epicenter. The main quake on July 5 cut power to at least 3,000 residents in Ridgecrest. Effects were felt across much of Southern California, parts of Arizona and Nevada, as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, and as far south as Baja California, Mexico. An estimated 20 million people experienced the foreshock, and approximately 30 million people experienced the main shock. We didn’t feel it here in Fort Bragg in Northern California.

Click on the images to see full size.

Here’s a map showing where this earthquake and other southern California earthquakes were located:

Location of Ridgecrest Earhquake

Location of Ridgecrest Earthquake

What areas were affected:

Potential disaster area of the Ridgecrest earthquake

Potential disaster area of the Ridgecrest earthquake

These two ground level pics show the damage caused by the quake:

Crack in the earth opened up by the Ridgecrest quake

Crack in the earth opened up by the Ridgecrest quake

Road damage caused by the Ridgecrest quake

Road damage caused by the Ridgecrest quake

This aerial pic REALLY shows the severity of the quake. The road has been displaced several feet:

Road displaced by the Ridgecrest quake

Road displaced by the Ridgecrest quake

This before and after pic I got from Google Maps. You need to click on the pic to see the animated effect.

Before and after animation of the Ridgecrest quake

Before and after animation of the Ridgecrest quake






Bourn’s Landing – a note from the owner, Dr. John Bonham

We have a page in the website on Bourn’s Landing – click here to see. At the foot of the page I wrote: “If anyone has any information to throw some light on my/our confusion please contact me.” My plea has been answered – see the e-mail below:

I have owned Bourn’s Landing for over 60 years and may be of some help to your ? lack of knowledge there;

Yes, there WAS a railroad! It was a narrow gauge steam driven typical lumbering railroad. The redwood ties have mostly rotted away and the railroad spikes that we once found are no longer there.

The Engineer was a Chinese fellow but his name is lost to history. He loved to make cookies for local children so his name simply became “Cook”.

He often would have a “cookie party” for children on a nearby beach. Now days, that beach is simply known as “Cook’s Beach

After I received the e-mail I went looking for a map showing Bourn’s Landing. This is the topo map I found:

Map showing Bourn's Landing

Map showing Bourn’s Landing

I was hoping to find the route of the railroad that Dr. Bonham mentions. Alas, no cigar.

Caspar Lumber Company’s little red schoolhouse on Route 20 between Fort Bragg and Willits

I received this e-mail from Monty L. Coursey, Sr.:

About a year ago, my friend and I visited northern California and drove from FortBragg southward to Sen Francisco through Calistoga. As we went out Highway 20 eastward we came upon the Little Red School House on the right side of the road. We stayed there only a few minutes but as we drove on to San Francisco, we talked at length about the little building and its setting close to the creek. Somehow it has always been special to us and we vowed that the next time we were in California we would go back there. But we were not sure exactly where it is located. Is there any way you could show us on a map how we could find it again?”

The above came with a spifflicating photo of the schoolhouse.

The Caspar Lumber Company's little red schoolhouse on CA Route 20

The Caspar Lumber Company’s little red schoolhouse on CA Route 20

My reply:

“Great photo!!!!!!

The schoolhouse is on the Willits side of the Camp 20 recreation area  click to see map.
The good news is that the last time I passed work has been done to save the roof.

From Ten Mile River to Point Cabrillo – the view from 1,500 feet up

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.

The vid is just short of seven mins.

A brief history of the MacKericher Family (note the spelling) – McKerricher State Park and how Cleone got its name (???)

First a map of McKerricher State Park:

MacKerricher State Park Map

MacKerricher State Park Map

Among this week’s dirty washing I found this old word doc:

When I was attending college I worked as a Park Aide for two summers with the California Department of Parks and Recreation. As the official driver of the park garbage truck, I traveled to all three of our local parks every day. Frankly, I had no idea how the parks got their names. Now that I know, I’m going to pass some of what I learned about one of our parks on to you.

Long before there was a MacKerricher State Park, there was a family named MacKericher. I did not misspell the name, but more about that later. Duncan MacKericher was born in 1836 in Quebec, Canada. Jessie Stuart was born in 1837, also in Quebec, Canada. Both were of Scottish decent. Duncan met Jessie, fell in love and married her in 1864. They had already made the decision that they would leave Canada for the Mendocino Coast, where they had mutual friends. Shortly after they married they left Canada, traveling to New York City by train, where they booked passage on a ship bound for Panama. An interesting footnote is that their ship was escorted part way by the U.S.S. Constitution since America was fighting the Civil War at the time. Once they arrived at Panama, they traveled across land by rail. They then boarded a ship bound for San Francisco. In San Francisco they boarded a small coast schooner headed for Eureka with a stop at Mendocino. The weather was so stormy that they could not land and were forced to sail up to Eureka. On the ship’s return voyage to San Francisco, they were able to disembark at Mendocino.

At Mendocino, the couple settled down. Duncan became employed by the sawmill and worked there for about two years. He was then offered a job working for Indian Agent, E.J. Whipple on the reservation established at Ten Mile for the local Pomo band of Indians. Within two years the government decided to move the Indians to a new location at Round Valley. Duncan and Jessie decided they wanted to stay in the immediate area so they bought the Rancho de la Luguna. Interesting enough, about half the tribe decided to live on the Rancho and work for the MacKerichers.

Within two years the ranch was fast becoming a successful operation. They had 69 cows to milk every day. They made butter which they shipped by water to San Francisco via Mendocino. A good portion of the funds received from the butter sales went directly to support their Indian labor force. The MacKerichers also grew and sold potatoes as their major crop and were well known for raising quality draft horses.

The MacKerichers raised several children on their ranch. The MacKericher’s ranch was near a little town which had, in the past, gone by the name of Kanuck. Jessie is reported to have changed the town name to Cleone. Here is where the story becomes muddled. There are several versions of the derivation of the name Cleone . One version reports the name Cleone to be Greek meaning “gracious” or “beautiful”. Another version argues that Cleone is a reference to Cleon, an Ancient Greek statesman. Finally, there is an argument that Cleone is a reference to Kelio, the name the northern Pomos had given to one of their villages.

In any event, a post office was opened in 1883 under the name of Kanuck. Later that same year it was changed to Cleone. The post office was closed in 1908. Duncan was cooperative with lumber interests and allowed one of the four lumber mills operating in the Cleone area to build a gravity-fed tramway from the mill, through town and ranch property to the wharf and chute at Laguna Point just west of the ranch, to haul lumber.

Jessie died in 1923 and Duncan died in 1926. The property remained within the MacKericher family until 1950 when the land was sold to the State of California to create MacKerricher State Park. Somewhere along the line the name MacKericher picked up an extra “r”. The MacKerichers gravestone spells the name with two “r’s”. MacKerricher State Park is one of the top 100 parks in the United States in terms of attendance with over 2 million visitors a year. Hope you enjoyed the story.

Regretfully I have no idea who the “I” is in the above piece.

There is a boardwalk out to Laguna from which seals may be seen:

Laguna-Point-MacKerricher Park

Laguna-Point-MacKerricher Park

And the seals …….

Seals at Laguna Point

Seals at Laguna Point