The semingly endless Redwood Forest provided much of the lumber to build and rebuild San Francisco

North Coast in History...

This part of the California coast is rich in stories and local lore. The Pomo people were here long before any of the rest of us and their descendants still live here. The Spanish silver galleons sailing out of Manila followed ocean currents and wind patterns that brought them close to our shore, but they worried about rocks and pirates and did not stop - at least not regularly. Sir Francis Drake pulled into a cove somewhere along the coast and repaired his ship - the Golden Hind (but most evidence places that event further to the south). In the eighteenth century Spanish explorers working north out of Mexico began exploring this coast and started giving names to various geographic features. Point Arena traces it's name back to this era. In the begining of the nineteenth century Russian and Aleut otter hunters passed through in their search for the sea otter and left us their southernmost settlement - Fort Ross.

During the middle of the nineteenth century, European immigration into this area started in earnest. Gold was being washed out of the streams and rivers of the Sierras and San Francisco was transforming itself from a tent encampment into a real town. As the transformation continued, placer mining gave way to hard rock and hydro technologies and the community needed resources of all kinds. Hunters reached out further and further from the Bay Area to feed the swarm of humanity that had suddenly arrived in the sleepy hamlet of Yerba Buena. The elk herds of Marin were decimated and egg hunters moved further and further north to rob the wild bird nests on the sea stacks just off shore. As tents were converted into buildings, lumber was needed and the northern California redwood forests began to be harvested. Repeated fires in the City by the Bay regularly renewed the demand for lumber and small saw mills were established all along the coast. Milk, cream, and cheese were also needed and dairy farming commenced in this part of the coast. Sheep ranching was introduced and the dog hole schooners began carrying wool and mutton as well as lumber and dairy products. Today, the mills are gone, the birds are protected, but the dairy farms are still here and the Sea Ranch utilizes sheep to reduce the danger of wild fire.

The Great Depression came and went as did Prohibition. The rural agricultural nature of the economy permitted the folks who lived here at the time to weather both fairly easily as compared with the hard times experienced in the cities. People relied on home gardens and fishermen and rum runners used the coves and bays to earn a little extra money. The two world wars did not impact this area to any real extent. A couple of enemy ships were seen off of the coast by a few watch towers that were set up on various high points of land. When radar came into being, the United States Air Force established a radar station just outside of Point Arena. The real change that occurred here happened in the twentieth century when Highway One opened up the coast to the automobile. Anchor Bay, as we know it today, dates from this time and the equipment rental company operates out of what once was one of the very first modern gas stations on the coast. At first the area served merely as a place to go for a short vacation, but the beauty of the region enticed people to seek permanent residence here. Communities that had previously depended on agriculture, timber, and fishing, turned to real estate development. The Sea Ranch dates from this period.

Today, the north coast of California is one of the most sought after places to live in the entire country. People fleeing the congestion and pollution of urban existence are attracted to the clean air and the beauty of nature that we enjoy here. These attractions combined with the limited nature of the land available for development has pushed property values up to record highs. The recent economic downturn that has impacted the entire nation has resulted in what I believe to be a temporary reduction in local real estate prices. No one knows for certain, of course, but I believe that as the national economy recovers we will see property values here go back up because the factors that impact the basic value of north coast property remain. Clean air, beautiful surroundings, proximity to a major metropolitan area, but removed from it's congestion and pollution. Today, the area is primarily populated by retirees and second home owners, but as communication technology continues to improve, it should be increasingly possible for people to operate their business from this region. There are already a number of pioneers living here who are exploring the feasibility of this type of employment.

Dairy farming in Point Arena


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