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]:
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.
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.