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.
George Montgomery, who bought Cazadero as well as christened the town with its present name, kicked out the Bohos in 1891 for frequent violations of the town’s temperance laws as well as abusing the “privileges” at the nearby Elim Grove Hotel. Montgomery soon replaced the Bohemian’s presence with a revivalist encampment cosponsored by the Salvation Army. In the 1920s, the San Francisco chapter of the Boy Scouts used Elim for a two-week summer session at the cost of $12/person. A 150′ gravel dam was constructed across Austin Creek to provide swimming and canoeing. Traditionally on the first day, the Scouts would make the fourteen-mile trek along the railroad tracks to Guerneville where they camped overnight near the Russian River. Over four hundred attended the Boy Scout camp each July until 1924. Next time I will share some juicy tidbits of the various music camps that have thrived at Elim since 1957. Until then, take care out there.