Making History Blog

Many of these articles have been published in the Mendocino Beacon’s Kelley House Calendar.

Coastal Place Names Part 2

Coastal Place Names Part 2
A recent column explored the sources of names on the land from Needle Rock south to Caspar on the Mendocino Coast. This week’s column tells the story of place names from Pine Grove south to Gualala. Plan a road trip and find these interesting places. Detail from Mendocino County map showing he southern coast and the small towns and landings found there in 1902. (Map by J. N. Lentell) Pine Grove probably had a pine tree grove and Russian Gulch was supposed[... see full page]

Coastal Place Names Part 1

Coastal Place Names Part 1
Maps are a time trap for historians…just ask the folks at the Kelley House Museum. A map inspection can turn from a quick glance to an hour or more of in-depth inspection, often with the assistance of a magnifying lens. And what captures this author is the names on the land. For whom, and what, was a placed named, and what work took place there.  Detail of the area around the town of Cleone from the 1909 Coast & Geodetic Survey,[... see full page]

Grindle's Neighborhood

Grindle's Neighborhood
This last month, the Kelley House received an interesting request from innkeeper Ken Taylor for an historic map that would show the grounds of the Joshua Grindle House. Our go-to vintage maps are the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, but the northeast part of Mendocino, where the Grindle House is located, showed only a portion of his property. Mendocino City. Detail from the 1909 U. S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Stillwell Point to Point Cabrillo. (Kelley House Museum archives) So, we turned to[... see full page]

Defensible Space in a 1931 Wildfire

Defensible Space in a 1931 Wildfire
For any readers unclear about the concept of defensible space please read about the massive 1931 Comptche Fire and how people survived in the middle of a firestorm. It’s a good lesson on what saves lives. Mendocino County - Comptche fire - 1:30 p.m. September 22, 1931. (Charles R Clar, Fritz-Metcalf Collection, Bioscience & Natural Resources Library, UC Berkeley) On September 22, 1931, the easterly and southeasterly portions of the Comptche settlement were swept by the worst fires in the history of[... see full page]

Flaming Log Rafts!

Flaming Log Rafts!
Flaming log rafts? How does something already floating in the Pacific Ocean catch fire? Some true events in maritime shipping will always remain a mystery. For the last column in our series on log rafts comes this history tidbit from the August 9, 1941 Mendocino Beacon. Fort Bragg wharf on the left. Structure in the center is the slipway built to launch a log raft. “Radio on Friday morning announced a log raft en route from Puget Sound to San Diego to[... see full page]

Log Raft Accidents Happen

Log Raft Accidents Happen
In recent weeks, the Kelley House Calendar has focused on log rafts and the vessels pulling them. Log rafts were exactly what the term suggests, logs tied up with chains that were towed to a sawmill in a sunny location where sunshine could dry out fresh cut boards. Practiced from 1906 to 1942, rafts became the cheapest way to move a lot of logs 1,000 miles to the south of the Mendocino coast.  Broken Up Log Raft on Big River Beach,[... see full page]