Usal. its lumber company and railroad on the Lost Coast on the Northernmost Part of the Mendocino Coast

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:

Route to Usal

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.

Satellite Map of Usal

This map shows just how many hills there are in the immediate vicinity.

Topo Usal Map

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.

USAL #1 Shay

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.

Rockport – The Finkbine-Guild Lumber Company

The website has info on Rockport here. In this blog there are several blogs about Rockport – use “Rockport” in the word search.

Initially pictures and info on Rockport were as scarce as hen’s teeth. As time has progressed many of the initial ones have re-appeared over and over again. Those in this post are new to me.

Click on any photo to see full size and activate the gallery.

Mill info in the Fort Bragg Advocate of February 24th 1904 (Hardy Creek, DeHaven and Glen Blair)

This snippet appeared in the Fort Bragg Advocate on February 24th, 1904.

Mendocino Coast Mill Info

None of these  mills/places exist today. They are signs, dots on the map and/or inaccessible. Our website has their stories.

DeHaven ……. https://mendorailhistory.org/1_towns/towns/de_haven.htm

Glen Blair …… https://mendorailhistory.org/1_towns/towns/glen_blair.htm

Hardy Creek ……. https://mendorailhistory.org/1_towns/towns/hardy_creek.htm

The Hot Springs near Point Arena on the Garcia River

Everyday I learn something new about the Mendocino Coast. This blog started out with a pic I found on Lynn Catlett’s “You know you’re from Mendocino if …..” Facebook page:

Bath House at the Garcia River Hot Springs

if you click on the pic you’ll see the handwriting clearly. Where were or where are  the Hot Springs and if they were on the Garcia river how come they were near Point Arena? I didn’t know the answer so I started checking maps. This one shows Hot Springs reasonably well:

Hot Springs Map

In the top left corner is Point Arena and in the bottom right corner is Gualala. Route 1 is the orange line that runs from top left to bottom right. The red line shows how you get to the Hot Springs from one of the minor (black) roads.

One more old photo that I found when I was searching for a decent map:

The Hot Springs

So, if you are near Point Arena and want a hot dip ………….

 

Wendling Woods now called Navarro

Until 1914, Navarro on Route 128 in Mendocino County was called Wendling (Woods) – Navarro was the name of what is now Navarro-by-the-Sea. Wendling/Navarro, is located eleven miles up river from the sea along Highway 128. Ok, so now you know where Wendling was located. If you check our website you’ll that there is precious little in there on Wendling (Woods). I did  write two blogs about Wendling a while ago  and another about its history – here.

This map shows where Wendling Woods aka Navarro is:

Topo Map of Navarro showing Route 128 running through it

Now for the new stuff – this pic. The road through Wendling (aka Navarro) was also where the railroad tracks ran – see below


Rockport Suspension Bridge

Rockport (formerly, Cotineva) is a former settlement in an unincorporated area of Mendocino County, California. It is located 7.25 miles north-northwest of Westport. Rockport started as a small company town serving the timber industry on the Pacific Ocean coast among redwood forests in Northern California. Rockport is regarded as the southern end of the Lost Coast region; it is where State Highway 1, which runs very close along the coast for most of its length, instead turns inland before merging with U.S. Route 101 at Leggett.

The Mendocino Redwood Company now owns the Rockport mill’s forests (see map here) and in their very informative web site there is a page describing the construction of the bridge including an interview with Bernie Agrons, the last general manager of Rockport Redwood Company before it ceased mill operations in 1957. Bernie re-visited Rockport Beach in 2007 and recounted the building of the suspension bridge – click here for the link to his interview and the page on the bridge.

These are pictures I have recently collectyed of the Suspension Bridge:

Ship loading off of the island blasted flat for the Rockport Suspension Bridge

Very old grainy pic of the Rockport Suspension Bridge

View of the rail lines leading to the Rockport Suspension Bridge

Ruins of the trestles leading to the Rockport Suspension Bridge

Rockport today Suspension Bridge long gone

 

 

Vintage Photos of the Logging Operations at Elk/Greenwood

A century ago the population of Elk/Greenwood was 10 times as large as today’s. Schooners from the L.E. White Lumber Co. sailed regularly from San Francisco and early tourists took the 14 hour ride for $5, dinner and bunk included. The town had ten hotels each with a saloon and there five other saloons. Each of the ethnic groups which worked in the mill: Finns, Swedes, Irish, Russians and Chinese congregated in “their” saloon.

This shot was taken at one of the loading areas. The text on the photo (click to enlarge) provides the details:

Elk/Greenwood landing

A train took the logs to the Mill:

Look at the logs about to be dumped into the Elk/Greenwood Log Pond

The Mill and the town:

Great picture of the Town of Elk/Greenwood, the Mill and the Log Dump

Shipping out the lumber also required a major feat of engineering. At the end of the wharf the lumber was put on a sling and winched to ships moored offshore. The train did not go down the incline. Gravity was used and then a horse (called “Maude”) pulled the empties back up to the mill. At low tide if you clamber along the foot of the cliffs you can see the concrete remains of the footings that supported the end of the wharf.

View of the wharf at Elk/Greenwood

If you enlarge the above photo (click on it) you can see the wires going out to the waiting schooner.