History of Wendling (Woods) in Mendocino County, CA

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). There isn’t even a picture of the Wendling Mill. I did write a blog a while ago about Wendling/Navarro but, again it doesn’t include a whole lot of history. Well, all that is about to change. The change began when I received this great photo of the Wendling Mill from Greg Checkal:

Wendling Mill on Route 128 in Mendocino County CA

Wendling Mill

The following history I got from one of the Arcadia Press series entitled, “Anderson Valley.”

G.X. Wendling built the Wendling Redwood Shingle Mill in 1902. Soon after the mill was completed he made an agreement with the Albion and Southwestern to extend their railroad to the mill. The railroad was completed on September 1905. Earlier that year A.G. Stearns purchased the shingle mill. In 1908 Stearns made an agreement the Northwestern Pacific Railroad to extend their track from Wendling to Christine Landing (three and a half miles away). Known as the Floodgate extension this track crossed ravines and rivers, It required 100 men and 80 mule teams to build.

Building the Floodgate Extension from Wendling to Christine in Mendocino County

Building the Floodgate Extension

In 1914 The Navarro Lumber Company purchased the Stearns Lumber Company. The name of the mill changed with each owner. Eventually the the town of Navarro and the Navarro Mill became just Navarro. This was confusing because Capt. Charles Fletcher had settled at the mouth of Navarro River in 1849 naming the settlement and the river, “Navarro.” To rectify the confusion the town of Wendling was officially changed to Navarro. The settlement at the mouth of the Navarro became Old Navarro, or Navarro Ridge and later became Navarro-By-The-Sea.

In August 1920, The Albion Lumber Company purchased the Navarro Lumber Company for $247,750. This included the railroad, rolling stock, sawmill, hotel, lodging house, shops and cookhouse – or “Mill Town.”. In 1922 the railroad was extended another three and a half miles down Perry Gulch.

While the railroad was built to haul lumber. it was soon used for hauling other products and passengers. On May 17, 1908, the first “Excursion Picnic Train” traveled from Albion to Wendling and Dago Town. Dago Town became the entertainment centre of Wendling.

Eventually, the demand for lumber ceased. The mills and rails rusted away. In 1937 the railroad and parts of the mill were sold to Hyman-Michaels as scrap iron.

Railroad ties stored 4 miles north of Wendling in Mendocino County in 1926

118,000 railroad ties stored 4 miles north of Wendling in 1926 – there was no market for them