Defensible Space

Please read about the massive 1931 Comptche Fire and how people survived in the middle of a firestorm due to defensible space. It’s a good lesson on what saves lives. In 1931 in late September the easterly and southeasterly portions of the Comptche settlement were swept by the worst fires in the history of the […]

Tugboats, Log Rafts, Wrecks & Flames

One of the problems an historian faces is starting with a simple thought—I would like to know more about the log rafts pulled along the Mendocino Coast a century ago—and pretty soon the researcher has notes, print outs, photos and the realization that the simple idea had a complex but interesting history. Almost one of […]

Pacific Cod Fishing & Schooner Building

Matt Turner built schooners, brigs and barkentine vessels on California’s north coast 120 years ago to transport lumber and general merchandise. Why is this interesting? It’s the side story of how and why he became a master shipbuilder that is fascinating. Learning his shipbuilding skills on the Great Lakes, Turner arrived in California during the […]

North Coast Incline Railways

One of my favorite discoveries studying history is how creativity and ingenuity solved problems, like moving really BIG things. Incline railways were one such invention. These rail lines had nicknames for their many parts—they were “sidehill railroads” using “gravity systems” to run “log slide engines” and “dropping machines.” Basically what the systems accomplished was moving […]

Caspar Historical Curiosities

As AVA readers have interest in Mendocino County history beyond the Anderson Valley the following is offered. It’s easy to be researching one project and get waylaid by interesting materials that have nothing to do with the research topic at hand when you’re a historian. The book “Caspar Notebook-School Days” by Ann M. Connor, self-published […]

Culinary Chaos in History

“Drunken Woodsmen Wreck Cookhouse-Raise Hades at Little Valley Camp.” That’s what a headline in the Mendocino Beacon reported in the November 23, 1918 issue. This is the story about cooks and their customers.  North of Fort Bragg Union Lumber Company had a logging crew in a recently established camp east of Cleone in an extensive […]

Mystery Newspaper Publication

There is nothing more frustrating to a local historian than finding an artifact and not being able to figure where the heck it came from, or when! The Held-Poage Library of the Mendocino County Historical Society is locked up tight as we all shelter in place so I did some internet searching. The object in […]

Mendocino County & The Great Flu of 1918

For fascinating reading or listening there is “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. It’s available from the County Library and provides hours of informative material on a disease that killed millions world-wide in 1918-1919. The book set me to wondering how the Mendocino Coast persevered through the national epidemic back then. I went to the […]

The Valleys of Mendocino County

About 40 years ago the Mendocino County Historical Society was producing monographs on several subject areas. In the “Stories of Mendocino County” series #14 was Ray Shultz and is “Valleys of Mendocino County.” He tried to get a personal short story for every valley he listed and while I can’t share those due to space […]

Albion Bridge Completion in 1944

Tom Wodetzki of the Albion Bridge Stewards recently gave the Kelley House Museum an interesting document. Its title is “Final Construction Report for the Construction of a Timber, Steel and Concrete Bridge Across the Albion River,” dated August 29, 1944. Believe me, readers, this is mostly dry, statistical reading for 97 pages, ending with five […]

Elise Drexler

Mendocino County produced many memorable women but one from the Mendocino Coast proudly declared her occupation as a “Capitalist.” This was Elise Drexler, daughter of Mendocino coast pioneers William and Eliza Kelly. Born in 1866 on the coast she was educated at a girls private school and went to Mills College in Oakland, at a […]

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