Walking or sitting, you will pick up some fascinating facts in two new tours for history lovers at the Kelley House Museum. David and Katy Tahja, a team of Kelley House docents from Comptche, have developed tours about the areas of Mendocino history that interest each of them most. Beginning on July 10th, David will lead a two-hour walking tour called “Stump to Ship: Logging in Mendocino” on the second Sunday of every month at 11:00 am. Katy will offer “Armchair History Tours” by appointment.

Older man and woman holding up black and white photographs

Comptche’s David and Katy Tahja are happy to be offering new history tours for the Kelley House Museum.


As a Mendocino walking tour guide, David is often asked “Why did people settle here?” The answer, as we locals know, is big trees: cutting them down and turning them into lumber. This was very important during California’s gold rush boom and subsequent development, and continues to be a factor in the local economy even today. 

The “Stump to Ship” tour begins inside the Kelley House Museum with a short slide show featuring archival photos showing the process of felling a tree, milling the wood at the Mendocino Lumber Company sawmill on Big River, hauling the milled lumber out to the point, and loading it onto ships. David narrates the slide show, then leads a walk along the Mendocino Headlands to help guests visualize the operation. 

David is uniquely qualified to recount this history as a third-generation logger who has held a variety of jobs in the timber industry. His grandfather Matti had a logging camp blacksmith shop beginning in 1884, and his father Andrew was born in the Berry Gulch logging camp in 1907.

David knows his trees and logger lingo.  

Journalist and local historian Katy Tahja has been a docent in the Kelley House for more than a decade. Visitors frequently tell her they would love to know more about Mendocino’s history, but are physically unable to manage a two-hour walk around town. So she came up with a solution: we’ll sit in the parlor and chat. The armchair tour will take place while you’re seated in by the Kelley House windows with a good view of the headlands and town. It will cover roughly the same information as a historic Mendocino walking tour, but with less exertion. 

Katy is also able to customize her tour to provide information specific to the guest’s areas of interest. For example, she’s a gold mine of information on the logging railroads of the redwood coast. She also knows quite a bit about the night life in Mendocino back in its heyday. Not through experience, we hasten to say, but from books. Her tour is by reservation only, but she’s retired and has a flexible schedule.

Both the “Stump to Ship” and “Armchair History” tours are $20 per person and can be reserved in advance by calling or emailing the Kelley House at info@kelleyhousemuseum.org. For a complete list of the walking tours offered by the Kelley House, please visit our web site at www.kelleyhousemuseum.org.