Cazadero – Part 1

    Silas Ingram (upper left photo) and his wife joined a wagon train bound for California in 1840. While crossing the plains, they were attacked by a warrior party of the Ute tribe.  The Ingrams walked over 100 miles to Salt Lake City where they caught transportation to San Francisco.  Soon thereafter, the family bought property in the hills north of the Russian River and built a hunting lodge (upper left photo) and a sawmill.  Today, that property is known as Lions Head Ranch.
         In 1869 Silas became the first post master of the nearby town, which was named Ingrams in honor of the family.   However, the mail was often not delivered on time or delivered at all.  That was because it was pilfered on a regular basis.  In an awkward twist of history, the culprit turned out to be Silas’s own son, Charles,  who later confessed to the crime and served eighteen months in jail. Silas Ingram died on June 8, 1900 and is buried at the Redwood Cemetery in Guerneville.
        In 2007 the entire town of Cazadero was for sale on the cheap. A similar occurrence happened in 1888. Despite being the rainiest place in the state (85 inches/year), the area has always had a certain appeal. This was true when George Simpson Montgomery (upper right photo) purchased Ingrams and changed its name to Cazadero, which is Spanish for “The Hunting Place”.
      At the time George was living at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and holding membership in the exclusive Bohemian Club. Probably due to peer pressure, he soon developed into a two-fisted drinker with a reputation for visiting the brothels of the City.   His wife ventured in the opposite direction, establishing a ministry.  Her book, Prayer of Faith, was translated into eight languages and sold over four hundred thousand copies.  A few years later her husband saw the evils of his ways and converted to Christianity.
       At the insistence of his wife, George attempted to convince the local ruffians of Cazadero to go dry. If one did not obey the new regulations, Montgomery blocked the person’s business activities with heavy tax penalties. I ask you, what kind of decent, civilized municipality would turn its back on a little fun? After all, the bible says that God works harder for sinners, right?

  The North Pacific Coast R.R. (upper left photos) ran from Sausalito to Cazadero via west Marin. Between Freestone and Occidental the train crossed the monstrous Browns Canyon Trestle, which at the time was the largest man-made structure west of the Mississippi.
           The broad gauge and narrow gauge met in Monte Rio before running down present-day Moscow Road and crossing the Russian River at Duncans Mills, continuing to Cazadero, etc. The local lumber industry helped rebuild San Francisco and Santa Rosa after the 1906 earthquake.  It is also said that redwood pilings from the mills were used as foundations for the Bay Bridge.
           Mishaps along the line were plentiful.  George Montgomery’s insistence that the town go dry might have initiated a protest in 1894 when Engine No. 9 was hijacked by its crew and others in Duncans Mills with the intent of a party-run to Cazadero. The train never reached its destination, plunging into Austin Creek while attempting to cross the trestle at Elim Grove (upper right photo) . 
           Ten days later a local Native American shaman joined the search for missing persons.  He affixed a candle to a board and sent it on its way downstream.   In an eddy of tangled brush, the remains of seven men were discovered.  Booze and religion have never been good bed partners.
         On September 17, 1923, a moonshine still blew up, igniting a blaze that roared through the lumber mills from Guerneville to Jenner.  With the lumber trade on the fritz, passenger service had to pick up the slack.  The Northwestern Pacific Railroad offered “dollar days” on weekends with a roundtrip fare of $1.25 between the City and the River. 
          The Depression soon arrived with the NWP running over a million dollars in the red. The last train out of Cazadero was on July 31, 1933, followed by the Guerneville line two years later. Locals mobbed the passenger cars for the final ride and partied to the next stop. Some inebriated souls, however, lost track of time (and consciousness)  to find themselves at the terminus in Sausalito.  Or so the story goes.  

Black Bart (Charles Boles) robbed the Wells Fargo & Co. stagecoaches on twenty-nine different occasions.  Two of these holdups were near the Russian River.  One was just west of the town of Duncans Mills.  The second was north of Jenner at Meyers Grade on August 3, 1877, where Black Bart made his demands in a civil, gentlemanly manner accompanied by a double-barreled shotgun.  He tucked away the $300 in cash and tossed the following poem into the strongbox: “I’ve labored long and hard for bread / For honor and for riches / But on my corns too long you’ve tread / You fine-haired sons of bitches.”
             It is said that he hid out that night at a barn (the refurbished version can be seen on present-day Hwy. 116 at Sheridan Ranch) before heading into Guerneville.  At a future holdup, he left behind a handkerchief with a laundry mark, which led to his ultimate downfall.  Charles Boles served over four years in San Quentin Prison before being released in 1888. 
            Upon his release, Black Bart was asked if he would rob stages again. He said no.  The reporter continued and queried whether or not the infamous poet had any more verses up his sleeve.  His response was: “Young man, didn’t you hear me say that I wasn’t going to commit any more crimes?”
SIDEBARS: 
            Alice Adams Dahl’s research states that Black Bart never rode a horse.  He always walked.
              Perri Paniagua recalls that for over sixty years her relatives had told her that the name “Elim” is “mile” spelled backward, the distance from town.   Others say that George Montgomery’s wife gleaned the name from the Bible.  Exodus 15:27: “And Moses came to Elim where there were twelve wells of water…”  Scholars interpret Elim as being “The Place of Refreshing”.
             Cheatham Jethro remembers as a local getting booted from the Boy Scout swimming hole on many occasions.

CazSonoma Inn

images of CazSonoma Inn

CazSonoma Inn was formerly known as Cazanoma Lodge. At one time it was a hunting resort and now serves as a quaint bed and breakfast. Getting there is half the adventure as you wind your way up Cazadero Highway toward the three-store town by the same name. Head up Kidd Road along a dirt path for three miles until you arrive at an English cottage with formal gardens and a lazy pool. Millpond Cottage, the inn’s main building, featured a menu specializing in beer-braised bratwurst with cabbage and roulade, all cooked by a big German chef named Oudo.   This was back in the day when Randy and Gretchen Neumann (widow of John Mino) were owners and managers (1970-2000). (more…)

Cazadero Folklore

         Some of Cazadero’s folklore is dark and foreboding.  Take the case of Helmuth Seefeldt, age 68, who was bludgeoned to death on or about August 20, 1942. His body was discovered in a shallow grave on his Creighton Ridge sheep ranch five months later. Buried with him was his pet dog. His ranch foreman, Roy Cornett, was an ex felon who some years earlier had spent time in prison for cattle rustling.  Soon after Seefeldt’s demise, Cornett was arrested for the murder, but there was not enough evidence to convict him of the crime. Cornett, however, was found guilty of forgery for falsifying three of Seefeldt’s personal checks while the victim was still in the grave.

Now this is where the story gets very interesting.  Upon his release from jail, Cornett returned to his old tricks, but on a much larger scale. (more…)

Pole Mountain

image of Pole Mountain

Pole Mountain was formerly known as Mt. Ross, taking its name from the nearby Russian fort. In 1898 the U. S. Signal Corps erected a tower on the highest peak along Sonoma County’s coast with an elevation of 2205 ft. When the federal surveyors were finished with their mapping, they left the transit-sighting pole in place, forever to be known as Pole Mountain.   It is hard to believe in this day of extreme fire danger and global warming (which President Donnie T. says mankind does not contribute to) that Pole Mountain is the only active lookout in the county. Without much assistance from government, the good people of Cazadero and the surrounding area have gathered donations and held fundraisers (e.g. annual breakfast at the Caz firehouse) to keep it going.   (more…)

Berry’s Mill and Lumberyard

The story of Berry’s Mill and Lumberyard began in the early 1940s. Prior to that, twenty-year-old Loren Berry and his father Merrill were working as loggers in the small town of Cazadero, California. The family had been living there since 1886 when Merrill’s father-in-law, George Montgomery, bought the town of Ingrams and renamed it Cazadero. In 1941 Merrill and his son began the downtown sawmill on the former NWP railroad depot site across the street from the General Store and the Post Office.

In those days, logging was done in and near Cazadero to convert forests to grazing land. A few years later during World War II, Berry’s Sawmill and Lumberyard supplied the big beams used at Guerneville’s Mount Jackson mine (abandoned in1970 due to high levels of mercury). There was a thriving business in quicksilver, which was required to detonate artillery shells on battleships. (more…)

Camp Royaneh

images of Camp RoyanehThe San Francisco Bay Area Council (SFBAC) established Camp Royaneh as a permanent Boy Scout site along Austin Creek near Cazadero in 1925.  The Council purchased the 120 acre Watson Ranch for $17,000.  Mrs. Watson was a nurse during the Civil War while her husband was captain of Company F out of Kansas.  All of the Watsons are buried at the pioneer cemetery in Guerneville.  The name “Royaneh” is an old Iroquois word meaning “Camp of Joy” or “Meeting Place of the Tribes”.  Northwestern Pacific steam engine No. 20, which weighed almost 94,000 lbs., carried the boys over the  77 mile journey from Sausalito until 1933 when the line between Duncans Mills and Cazadero was closed. 

Camp Royaneh is the longest running Boy Scout camp west of the Mississippi River, having served over 100,000 Scouts during its ninety-three year history. (more…)

Cazadero Music Camp

images of Cazadero Music CampIn 1927 the City of Berkeley paid George Montgomery $25,000 for the fifty acres at Elim Grove and established the Cazadero Redwood Camp for East Bay boys and girls. In 1957 it became the Berkeley Music Camp and in 1996 it was known as the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp. 

The Cazadero Music Camp has been the summer home to tens of thousands of young musicians since the fifties.  The first season had just 60 young musicians, but the word spread quickly. By 1961, over 300 campers attended, and by 1964, the camp had grown to four 12-day sessions with close to 600 youth in attendance.  For the past 61 years, Cazadero has inspired generations of young musicians, growing into one of Northern California’s most vibrant youth programs.  (more…)

Black Bart

image of Black Bart Black Bart (Charles Boles) robbed the Wells Fargo & Co. stage coaches on twenty-nine different occasions.  Two of these holdups were near the Russian River.  One was just west of the town of Duncans Mills and the second was north of Jenner at Meyers Grade on August 3, 1877.  Black Bart made his demands in a civil, gentlemanly manner with a “Please throw down the box” and a double-barreled shotgun.  He tucked away the $300 in cash and tossed the following poem into the strongbox: “I’ve labored long and hard for bread / For honor and for riches / But on my corns too long you’ve tread / You fine-haired sons of bitches.” It is said that he hid out that night at a barn (the refurbished version can be seen on present-day Hwy. 116 at Sheridan Ranch) before heading into Guerneville.  A handkerchief he left behind with a laundry mark led to his ultimate downfall.  Charles Boles served over four years in San Quentin Prison before being released in 1888.  (more…)

Elim Gove in Cazadero

images of Elim GroveElim Grove in Cazadero has been an integral part of the town since 1890, located where Raymond’s Bakery is today.  Elim comes from a passage in the Bible: Exodus 15:27: “And Moses came to ELIM where there were twelve wells of water, and three-score and ten palm trees: and he camped there by the waters”. Biblical scholars interpret “Elim” as being “The Place of Refreshing”.  While it is a coincidence that the grove is a mile from town, that is not where Elim received its title (i.e. Elim spelled backwards). 

Elim was the site of the first summer retreat for the Bohemian Club in 1877. Members would board the ferry at the Embarcadero in San Francisco before catching a train at the Sausalito NWP depot.  The seventy-seven mile trip from the bay to Elim lasted three hours with a stop at Duncans Mills to change over to the narrow gauge line. (more…)

Cazadero & North Pacific Coast R.R.

image of North Pacific Coast R.R.The North Pacific Coast R.R., built in the 1870’s, stretched from Sausalito to Cazadero.  Mishaps along the line were plentiful.  George Simpson Montgomery, who originally named Cazadero, had switched from a Bohemian Club drunkard to a born-again Christian. His insistence that the town go dry might have initiated a protest in 1894 when Engine No. 9 was hijacked by its crew and others in Duncans Mills with the intent of a party-run on one stormy night to Cazadero. The train never made it to its destination plunging into Austin Creek while attempting to cross the trestle at Elim Grove. Frank Hart, proprietor of Cazadero Hotel, had joined the liquored-up group but unfortunately fell victim to the tragedy. His body was never recovered and presumed carried out eventually to sea. Ten days later a local Native American shaman joined the search party and affixed a candle to a board and sent it on its way.   Several hundred yards downstream, the candle suddenly flickered out. (more…)

Pin It on Pinterest