Orr Hot Springs (also known as Orrs Springs, Orr’s Hot Sulphur Springs or Orrs) is located 15 miles almost directly north of Boonville. it is also accessible from Ukiah or Mendocino by following Orr Springs Rd. The Orrs post office operated from 1889 to 1911 and from 1915 to 1933. The name honored Samuel Orr, an early settler. Orr’s son established a stage coach station and a resort there. The springs flourish on 27 acres at the headwaters of Big River.
Pomo Native Americans regularly passed through on trading expeditions and on annual treks to the Mendocino coast. Unfriendly tribes agreed to co-exist peacefully while stopping at the hot springs. In the late 1800s, “Orr Hot Sulphur Springs” became a resting spot on the Ukiah-Mendocino stagecoach line. It developed into a popular resort for city-dwellers who came seeking health and relaxation. The mineral waters were heralded as bringing great relief to arthritis and rheumatism, and to blood, kidney and liver disorders.
The original bathhouse at the springs, now a dormitory for guests, was built in the 1850’s. In the logging heyday of Mendocino County — the 1870’s to 1890’s — local lumberjacks came to Orr Hot Springs to bathe and socialize. In addition to a post office, saloon and a dance hall, a hotel catered to families that came to visit their husbands and fathers. When a daughter of the Orr family married a Weger (WAY-gur) in 1880, the ownership of the property changed names. The hotel burned down in the late 1930’s and was replaced by a lodge and eight bungalows, which are the main buildings today. In 1975, the Weger family sold the 26-acre hot springs to some hippies who turned it into a commune and grew food on the land. Leslie Williams, who lived at the Orr commune on and off for 18 years, became the sole owner in 1994.
I have known for several years that the hot springs were a stopping place for the Pomo. Alas that was all I knew. The above I have gleaned from several Internet sites and the following picture is the one and only I have so far collected of its early days.
Orr Hot Springs
Crowley was 32.6 miles from Fort Bragg. It was the site of a logging camp owned by a French man. He had a love of tennis and imported clay to build a tennis court. Until relatively recently the camp at Crowley was intact. It consisted of five bunkhouses, a mess hall and the foreman’s quarters. That’s all we know and heretofore NO pics. Well, this isn’t quite a pic of Crowley but it is a pic taken at Crowley.
Camp Crowley Surveyors Camp
Ranch was 9 miles along the Skunk rote from Fort Bragg to Willits. Ranch – the Union Lumber Company (ULC) Company Ranch was where cattle and sheep were raised during the early days of the railroad to provide meat for the logging camps. Ranch also raised vegetables and had orchards. The original school is still there but has been made into a private dwelling. Our website has but two pics of Ranch so this one is a welcome addition.
CWR’s #45 stopping at the ULC’s Company Ranch
Where is Newport? It no longer exists – It was located on California State Route 1 4.25 miles south of Westport. At Newport lumber was loaded onto schooners by a gravity chute extending from the shore to the ship below. Newport was exposed to the open sea and there was no wharf. The ships were made fast to several moorings located on rocks and on the shore. The lines were set in such a way that the schooner had a chance of running back and forth twenty or twenty-five feet with the waves. The chute can be seen in a photo on our website.
The schooners carried from 75,000 to 150,000 feet of timber. No spot along the Mendocino Coast required more skill to maneuver among the rocks, tie up at the moorings and load with a full see running than Newport.
This pic of a postcard shows just how titchy Newport was …….
Newport Shipping Point
If you click on the photo and look above the rock to the right you can see the lumber being loaded.
How do I know this? Well, the book, “History of California Post Offices by H.E. Salley” says so. The book says there were two Mendocinos. One, the one we know, is seven miles south of Fort Bragg. There has been a post office there since December 1st, 1858.
The second Mendocino was named after Cape Mendocino and was located 36 miles south of Eureka. The post office was established there on the 19th of October 1852. Cape Mendocino was then part of Mendocino County and later became part of Humboldt County when it was created on 12th of March 1853. Mendocino #2 later became known as Capetown. The post office didn’t last too long – it closed on the 20th of December 1853.
Post Offices of California
How about that then!!!!!!!
I have no idea where I got the page that the following text and pics came from. It is the only description of a journey from San Francisco to Willits to Duffy and then to Fort Bragg that I know of.
The picture of the Duffy Mill is new to me. In our website in the section that describes all the places along the Skunk Train Route it says:
“Mile 18.1 (from Fort Bragg)– Alpine or Alpine Junction – When Alpine was a thriving community it was the end of the line. Alpine was 12 miles north of Comptche. Stagecoaches came here from Willits via a ridge route to transport passengers. It had a population of 1,200 was said to have been larger than Fort Bragg. The town included a tavern, a school and a post office. A fire in 1919 destroyed the buildings and the town was never rebuilt.
Near Alpine there was a mill with a railroad called the Duffy Lumber Co. Duffey was located 2.25 miles east of Gracy. It was connected by a branch line to the CWR and had a mill. A post office operated at Duffey from 1904 to 1912.”
And the loco? I think it is the Willits “Express”. This 4-4-0 had 57″ drivers, was built in 1883 and weighed 115,000 pounds.
I’ve chopped the page up to make it easier to read:
Intro to page
Text of Letter
The Willits Express
Duffey Mill in 1910
Loading Lumber ifrom the banks of the Noyo River (Fort Bragg) in 1910
Elk wasn’t always Elk. It was once called Greenwood. Duffy was once Alpine. Why the name changes? In California all towns having a post office had to have a unique name. There were two Greenwoods and Alpines hence the name changes.
When Alpine was a thriving community it was the end of the CWR (Skunk Train) route. It had a population of about 1,200 and was bigger than Fort Bragg at the time. The town included a tavern, a school and a post office. A fire in 1919 destroyed the buildings and the town was never rebuilt.
Stagecoaches came to Alpine from Willits via a ridge route and passengers alighted from Comptche (12 miles away) and Port Bragg.
Stagecoach at Duffy Depot
Stagecoach loading at Duffy
We don’t know a whole lot about the mill at Howard Creek – here’s what’s in our website:
“It appears that the mill at Howard Creek was owned from 1903 to 1906 by Howard Creek Lumber Co., from 1906 to 1913 it was leased to Star Lumber Co., Duffy Brothers operated it from 1914 to Nov 1915. Sexton Lumber Co. operated the mill from November 1915 to sometime in 1920 when it closed. Ira Thompson started it again (date unknown) and it burned in 1924.”
A few weeks ago a snippet appeared in the Fort Bragg Advocate about the mill at Howard Creek which implies that the info we have in the website is wrong. Here’s what appeared in the November 6th, 1912 Fort Bragg Advocate:
“Duffy’s Mill at Howard Creek shut down Saturday for the winter. We understand that the mill will be given a thorough overhauling and considerable new machinery will be installed. The mill was started up last summer by the Westshore Lumber Company and up to the present time, when it was necessary to shut down on account of the winter rains, has given first-class service.”
Were there two mills? Can anyone tell us the real story?
We don’t have a picture of the mill or mills just a picture of the loco that operated on the short line at Howard Creek.