Hendy State Park

As may be seen from the pages in this blog there is a lot I do not know about the locale in which I live. So, when a visitor to our club’s (G scale) – layout which tells the story of logging along the Mendocino Coast – asks me what I know about the history of Hendy Woods (State Park) and I say, “Not very much. ” I think it behoves me as the club’s historian to get my act together and go looking.

First things first – where is it? Here’s a topo map to give you a heads up [Click on the map to enlarge it]:

Topo map showing the location of Hendy Woods State Park

Topo map showing the location of Hendy Woods State Park

Hendy Woods State Park is a state park of California, located in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. It is named after Joshua Hendy, who owned the land and stipulated that it be protected; it passed through several owners after Hendy died without being logged, before becoming part of the California State Park system in 1958. It is the only large park within the Anderson Valley. It is about 20 miles from the coast, and because of the distance, it is noticeably warmer than California’s coast redwood forests. The park can be reached via the Philo–Greenwood Road, just off California State Route 128.

The park covers 816 acres of land and contains two groves of old-growth coast redwood: Big Hendy (80 acres) and Little Hendy (20 acres). Some of the trees are over 300 feet tall and may be nearly 1,000 years old. Other trees in the woods include madrone, Douglas fir, and California laurel. The park also contains 3.3 miles of property along the banks of the Navarro River and provides the only public access to the river within the Anderson Valley.

The Pomo people lived in what is now Hendy Woods for thousands of years, supporting themselves as hunter-gatherers. The first western settlers in the region were Russian fur traders who claimed the Pomo lands and forced the Pomo people into servitude; today, the remaining Pomo people are greatly reduced in number.

Joshua Hendy, after whom Hendy Woods was named, was an English-born blacksmith who moved from Texas to California in the California Gold Rush and built a large sawmill on the Navarro River. When Hendy died in 1891, he willed the property to his nephews with a stipulation that the coast redwood groves in it be protected. However, his nephew Samuel Hendy eventually ran out of money and sold the property to the Pacific Coast Lumber Company. It was sold again in turn to the Albion Lumber Company, in 1930 to the Southern Pacific Land Company, and in 1948 to the Masonite Corporation, together with the land stretching from what is now the park to the coast. 

Through these changes of ownership, Hendy Woods remained unlogged and was a popular location for family picnics. In 1938, Al Strowbridge visited the Anderson Valley Unity Club (a local women’s service organization) and spoke to them about the redwood forests of California; from that time forward the Unity Club worked to save the remaining groves of redwoods, and in 1958 the California State Park system bought approximately 600 acres of land with two miles of river frontage from Masonite for US$350,000. From 1979 to 1988, several additional purchases brought the park up to its present size of 816 acres. 

Redwood In Hendy Woods

Redwood In Hendy Woods

Have I been there? Yes, but before we moved here in 2000. I remember going because of the Redwoods. Alas, I cannot find the photos I know that I took.


The Chandelier Tree in Leggett, CA

The Chandelier Tree in Drive-Thru Tree Park is a 276-foot tall coast redwood tree in Leggett, California with a 6-foot  wide by 6-foot-9-inch  high hole cut through its base to allow a car to drive through. Its base measures 16 ft diameter at breast height (chest-high). The sign claims 315 ft. high and 21 ft. wide, but a Certified Arborist experienced with tallest redwoods, using a laser rangefinder, measured the tree as 276 ft. high and 16 ft. diameter. The name “Chandelier Tree” comes from its unique limbs that resemble a chandelier. The limbs, which measure from 4 to 7 ft  in diameter, begin 100 ft above the ground. The tree is believed to have been carved in the early 1930s.

These are old photos of the tree based on the vintage of the cars.

Old pictures of the Chandelier Tree in Leggett

Old pictures of the Chandelier Tree in Leggett

Man AND Horse INSIDE a (Redwood?) Tree

I’ve had this photo for quite some time. Heretofore I’ve never posted it ‘cos of its quality:

Horse and Rider INSIDE a fallen tree - poor quality

Horse and Rider INSIDE a fallen tree – poor quality

Sometimes you get lucky. Today was such a day. I received this e-mail from   Club Member Frank Smith:

Ryan Shane, one of the visitors at the layout today showed me this picture on his iPhone. I thought it would an interesting and valuable addition to our collection so I asked him to send it to me, which he did.”

I am reasonably certain that it is the same tree. Ryan’s pic, though, is quite magnificent – see for yourself:

Man on horse inside a fallen tree - excellent quality

Man on horse inside a fallen tree – excellent quality

Thanks Frank. Thanks Ryan.

Mendocino Land Trust

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

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.

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?


Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad at Fulton, CA. (a 3 ft narrow-gauge railroad)

When we lived in Kentfield in Marin in the 1990’s one the family’s favorite day trips was down over the Golden Gate Bridge, down the Peninsula and along Route 17 to Felton.  I had never been up close to a Shay loco before let alone ridden behind one.  I’m not sure wife Sarah and the kids were as entranced as was I. Looking at these photos taken some 25 years ago brings back many happy memories.

The Dixian Shay we rode behind was built in 1912.  She was originally owned by the Alaculsy Lumber Company, and was used on the Smokey Mountain Railroad in Tennessee. The Dixiana is named for a small narrow-gauge mining railroad, now abandoned, out of Dixiana,

The tender of Shay #1

The tender of Shay #1

Shay #1

Shay #1

View of the Shay from one of the open air passenger cars

View of the Shay from one of the open air passenger cars

The steam and gears that fascinated me

The steam and gears that fascinated me

These photos were taken before the age of digital cameras. Alas, I didn’t have a movie camera. If I had one I’d like to think I could have taken this vid ……..

What happened in the life of a 1,341 year old redwood?

We, as in our computer guru, Roger Thornburn and me, are in the process of creating posters to affix to the outside wall of our (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society) soon to be Museum/Library. The photo below must have been taken a long while ago based on the last date and the clothes the man is wearing. The copy I gave to Roger was quite grungy. He’s done a great job of cleaning it up and making all the data readable. Double click on the photo to see all the dates clearly.

Section of a 1,341 year old Redwood tree

Section of a 1,341 year old Redwood tree

Thanks Roger.