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…)
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 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…)
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…)
The 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…)
In 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 (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 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…)
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…)
The North Pacific Coast R.R. ran from Sausalito to Cazadero via west Marin. Operated under different owners from 1877 to 1935 the line carried redwood to San Francisco and returned with weekenders who were anxious to party. From Freestone to Occidental, there was a dramatic horseshoe bend that allowed front and back passengers to gaze at each other before crossing 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. Nine years later the line was extended to Cazadero at the behest of the town’s founder, Silas Ingram. Much of the redwood lumber was used to help rebuild San Francisco and Santa Rosa after the 1906 earthquake. It is also said that redwood pilings from the mills were used as foundation for the Bay Bridge. (more…)