Guernewood Park: Future’s Past

images of Guernewood ParkFuture’s past of Guernewood Park along the Russian includes a tiny strip of land many of us pass everyday not knowing its significance.  It is sandwiched between Highway 116 and Guerneville Lane next to the Guerneville Bible Church.  The Angela Boles Memorial Park (bottom photo) celebrates the man who once owned the entire area across the road where a funky restaurant, bar and campground known as Ginger’s Rancho existed.  Before that it was the site of the Guernewood Park Hotel, which burned down a long time ago. 

The existing empty lot next to the Dubrava Village is owned by Kirk Loc who hopes to build a new resort there.  The plans call for 100 hotel rooms, 20 housekeeping bungalows, conference rooms, restaurant and a spa (top photo). (more…)

Guernewood Park & Fishing

images of Russian River fishingGuernewood Park and fishing were synonymous at one time when angling tales were aplenty along the banks of the lower Russian River.  A 1905 issue of the Santa Rosa Republican reported that “Salmon are running at the present time in vast schools…It is no task at all to catch more salmon than one can carry, and small boys are catching them on pitchforks instead of the usual gaffs required.”

The 1930’s photo (top) shows a group catching their limit.  When the tide was low, locals would breach the sandbars at the mouth in Jenner with sticks of dynamite to allow the fish to run upstream.  Bill Schaadt, who lived in Monte Rio, was regarded as one of the top fly fishermen in the world during the 1950’s.  Quirky and elusive, he became the object of countless tales. (more…)

Guernewood Park Recreational Activities

Images of Guernewood ParkThere were many recreational activities at Guernewood Park during the sixties.  Besides dancing at the Tavern and watching flicks on the outdoor screen, you also had a peewee golf course and a roller skating rink across the street where the Garden Grill is today.  If that wasn’t enough, there was an indoor bowling alley where Ferrellgas stands.  Next door on the site where the Chinese restaurant is, you had the horse stables.  The pony rides did the loop down Old Cazadero Road and back along Lover’s Lane.  The hayrides (top photo) took you thru Guerneville to Armstrong Woods Park where you would enjoy a BBQ before returning.  Rich Caselli remembers as a kid working the stables as well as riding the back of the wagon to insure no one fell off (circa 1949-1954).  Misty Moreno became good friends with Tom Stoy whose father brought the horses out to the river each summer.  I’m betting she got a free pony ride out of the deal. (more…)

Guernewood Park Tavern

Images of Guernewood Park Tavern and Ginger's RanchoThe Guernewood Park Tavern along the Russian River was built around 1905.  The photograph at the top was taken in 1938.  The building was the entrance to the beach, which sat behind the tavern.  During these yearly years, it was the largest resort in the area and a popular destination for the Big Bands.  Other dance halls included the Palomar on Fitch Mt., Rio Nido, Mirabel Park, The Grove in Guerneville, and Monte Rio.  Artists like Buddy Rogers, Duke Ellington, Harry James, Woody Herman and Ozzie Nelson stopped in Portland first and then traveled along the Russian River before moving on to Santa Cruz. There was dancing six nights a week in rural Sonoma County with the cost being 50 cents on weeknights and 75 cents on weekends.    (more…)

Guernewood Park, the Early Days

images of Guernewood Park along the Russian RiverGeorge Guerne, a Swiss immigrant who in 1870 had Stumptown (Guerneville) renamed in his honor, purchased adjoining parcels, which became known as Guernewood Park.  The top photo (1920’s) shows the entrance to the area, which was located where the empty lot is today next to the Dubrava complex.  This was the largest resort along the Russian River at the time, comprising almost 15 acres. When the last train pulled out from the station in 1935, auto routes experienced heavy traffic.  The dirt road down Pocket Canyon was asphalted in ’29, the concrete for which came for the old sand and gravel plant that was just downstream from the Odd Fellows Bridge (you can still see remnants of the piers there today).  Another route was across the Monte Rio Bridge.  The original one was constructed around 1915 at a cost of $25,000, which was replaced in 1934 by the current span. (more…)

Guernewood Village, Then and Now

images of Guernewood ParkGuernewood Village, then and now, shows campers relaxing by the open pit fire next to their tent in the early part of last century along the Russian River.  Guernewood Village preceded Guernewood Park and existed behind the present-day Garden Grill.

During more recent times, neighbors in the area complained about the illegal activity at Spooner’s RV Park.  The locals pleaded for relief from the squalor, illegal drug use, theft and noise associated with the tenants at Spooner’s. “It’s the scourge of Guernewood Park,” said Old Cazadero Road resident Patricia Hall.   “We smell, see and hear what’s going on there,” said Fred Uren (no pun intended) of Lover’s Lane.  “It’s anything but pleasant.”  Note: Lover’s Lane where it meets Highway 116 used to be the entrance to Guernewood Village. (more…)

Guernewood Village along the Russian River

images of Guernewood VillageGuernewood Village, which was established in the 1920’s, existed prior to Guernewood Park and was located north of Highway 12 (now highway 116).  The top photo (early 1940’s) depicts the entrance to the village with Hulbert Creek running behind it.  As you strolled under the sign, an amusement walk led the way to a cafe, various game booths including Skee-Ball and a baseball toss with milk bottles.  Further down the lane would be an indoor bowling alley, an outdoor amphitheater where some of the Big Bands played.  The most popular local band was the Harry Davis’ Guernewood Village Bowl Orchestra.

The bottom photo shows the Guernewood Grocery, known from the 1940’s to the mid-1950’s as Noble’s Grocery Store.  It was located just under the Guernewood Village sign and just west of the present-day Garden Grill. (more…)

Guernewood Village, Russian River

images of Guernewood VillageBefore the 1950’s, one of the largest resorts along the Russian River was Guernewood Village, which should not be confused with Guernewood Park.  The former was on the north side of present day Highway 116 while the latter was on the south side.   The top photo on the left depicts the Old Monte Rio Road, which was also known as the Monte Rio Highway, connecting Monte Rio with Guernewood Village.  Also in the same pic is the gated entrance “To The Height” that was a summer home development and is now the intersection of Lover’s Lane.

Just east of the gated community and Lover’s Lane was the outdoor Catholic Church.  The bottom photo shows a 1954 Sunday service in Guernewood.  During the summer months, the regular indoor worship sites such as St. Elizabeth’s in Guerneville, St. Catherine’s in Monte Rio, and St. Colman’s in Cazadero were full to capacity. 


Guernewood Park, Russian River

images of railroad near the Russian RiverDuring the early days, the North Pacific Coast R.R. (later the North Western Pacific R.R.) would take you from the ferry building at Sausalito on a four-hour trip through San Geranimo Valley to Point Reyes Station, Valley Ford, Freestone, Occidental, Monte Rio and eventually to Guernewood Park and beyond along the Russian River. 


Guernewood Park

A photo of Guernewood Park Beach in Guerneville, CA

Guernewood Park

In 1865, George Guerne, a young Swiss immigrant, bought a sawmill, and in 1870 Stumptown was renamed Guerneville in his honor. He also purchased adjoining parcels, which became known as Guernewood Park. The unincorporated subdivision, which rested west of the main town, possessed a tavern as well as a dance hall where some of the Big Bands performed in the 1930’s &1940’s. But the most popular orchestras were homegrown such as the Harry Davis Orchestra and the Castles Family Band.