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 […]

Chasing Trains in Arid-Zona

Sometimes in the depth of winter in Mendocino County escaping to a land of sunshine for a break seems like a REALLY good idea. If that destination features tourist railroads my “ferroequonoligist” (lover of iron horse/trains) husband hasn’t ridden yet it’s all the better. With rides on the Grand Canyon Railroad and Verde Canyon Railroad, […]

Making Bricks in Mendocino County

Historians undertake to date a building’s construction and sometimes they turn to the common brick used in it. Believe it or not we’ve had history professors visit the county who make tracing the origin of bricks their specialty. In 1984 Professor Margaret Henry of San Francisco State had fun dating bricks discovered around the Kelley […]

Ukiah’s Rock House

Did you ever look at a building along the side of the road and think, “Boy, there’s got to be an interesting story there.” That’s the way I was about the structure standing a 722 S. State Street in Ukiah and delving into historical resources told me some of its story.  In 2019 we see […]

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