Archive for April, 2011

Was i ever glad i saw the announcement in the Ferndale Enterprise for a 90th birthday party for Bear River’s Jim Cook! The public event was held today, April 30, at the Ferndale Town Hall. I drove up just to see Jim, who was raised in the Mattole Valley, and his partner Margot Wells.

Jim, the birthday boy, and Margot, his dedicated sweetheart

I saw a few of my favorite people from MVHS gatherings (we haven’t had one for some time): Marilyn Wright Forsell, Donell McCanless, Francis and Lorena Sweet, Laurence Hindley (whom i didn’t have a chance to talk with at all), Dayton Titus, and many others.

Part of the party for Jim. There was definitely a good crowd present.

I also met a few great people: Kurt McCanless (Donell’s son), and Albert “Darky” Lockwood and his wife Geneva. I had seen pictures of Albert from the time of the Antlers yearbooks from Mattole Union School, which were published in the early 1940s. I didn’t think i would ever get to meet him. Well, he had some stories. One is about the establishment of the Petrolia Fire Department, when he went down to a state auction of firefighting equipment (he was a mechanic and had a shop on the site of the present fire station) and brought back our first fire truck. I am going to call Darky soon and get the whole story!

His wife, Geneva, was charming and full of stories, as well.

Tim Cook, Donell McCanless's back, Albert Lockwood, Francis Sweet, Geneva Lockwood, Patty Houx in background

Donell, Geneva, Jim, and Albert

I am sorry i missed the opportunity to get a photo of the brothers Jim and Francie Cook; or of Francis’s three sons, who were all there. Tim, Terry, and Tom, our Mattole mailman. It was great to connect with them, though, and i hope to take a drive while doing an interview with the elder brothers soon.

(Jim and Francis, who is 2 months shy of 87 and lives in Rio Dell, had a third brother, Joe, who was 2 years older than Jim. The three brothers were the sons of George Walker Cook and second wife Daisy O’Leary. George was the son of Petrolia pioneer Charles Sage Cook and his wife Anne Elizabeth Walker, sister of Jesse Walker of Sunset View Ranch. They lived at the “old home place”– the Cook place on the left of the road as you head west toward McNutt Gulch, now known as Villeggiatura.The Cooks we know in Petrolia now, Chompers and Toady and Leta, etc., are great-great grandchildren of the Charles S. Cooks through son Levant, George’s brother. So Jim and Francie are cousins twice removed of these current Petrolia Cooks. Original Mattole pioneer Charles Sage Cook also had a brother, Isaac Cook, who lived at Upper Mattole on the site of Gui [formerly Buzz] Lindley’s place; some of his descendants live in Ferndale today.)

Jim’s a great guy. Straight up! Honorable and hardworking, straightforward yet kind. Truly old-school. I am privileged to know him and to be somewhat acquainted with his appreciative family!


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Yes, there were scores if not hundreds. There undoubtedly would have been more had not the U.S. government ordered the building of the Cape Mendocino (1868) and Punta Gorda (1912) light stations, as well as establishing the Blunts Reef lightship off Cape Mendocino in 1905. Though clearly the disasters mentioned below happened decades after the first-mentioned lighthouse lit up California’s furthest-west coast, it’s impossible to figure how many more would’ve happened in that locale without the land beacon and the lightship, which was added the year of the postcard-pretty disasters below. There’s a poster listing the northern-California maritime disasters, over at the Mattole Valley Historical Society office. I wish i had it handy, but i don’t. That often seems to be the case lately. But i figure, it’s better to give loyal Mattole history fans something, even without all the background information, than to post nothing… am i right? I hope so. Let me know.

The Tricolor off Cape Mendocino, accident in June, 1905

The St. Paul off Punta Gorda, October, 1905

Paul Smith, who sent the Bear River bridge story and a postcard photo of tanbark being loaded at the mouth of the Mattole (will post that with more Mattole Lumber Co. material), wrote the following about the two shipwreck pictures he also shared with us: Post card with title “Steamer Tricolor Ashore off Cape Mendocino”. It appears to be a black and white photo that had some color added. No date or information on the back. I haven’t seen any information on this ship wreck. In the lower left corner is written A28034. Apparently the same photographer as the St. Paul picture which has A28034 in corner. So probably the Tricolor picture is about the same vintage (about 1905).

Post Card of “The Steamer St. Paul, a wreck off Point Gorda.”. This same picture is in Heydays in Mattole, p. 69. Neb Roscoe dedicated much of the chapter to stories related to the wreck. The picture also appears in Images of America, Trinidad. (not sure why). Also mentioned in Regional History of Petrolia and Mattole Valley, p. 18.

Paul mentioned that he would welcome any further information about the these wrecks, especially the Tricolor. At the MVHS office i have a copy of the big book of local shipwrecks by Wallace Martin; i imagine he has a section on that ship. I will look it up next time i am at the office. (By the way, look up The Neglected Waters of the Pacific Coast… by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Ernest Lester Jones. This entire book is online at Google Books. Search “Tricolor” on the site, or just go to p. 15.)

Meantime, i have a couple other shipwreck stories here that i had prepared for Dave Johnson of the BLM for a talk he gave in February ’11 for the King Range Winter Lecture series. These selections are from Redwood Cavalcade…pioneer life and times, by Andrew M. Genzoli and Wallace E. Martin; Schooner Features, PO Box 491, Eureka, 95501, 1968.

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Dear Mattole History people,
I am sure you’re getting tired of all the maps. Here’s a pleasant little story sent in by one of our readers. He sent a few postcards of local shipwrecks i will post soon, also. Here are excerpts from Mr. Smith’s email, and the bridge story.

As always, click and zoom in to make readable.

My name is Paul Smith. My parents – Ron and Arleen Smith – still live in Ferndale, but I now reside in Houston Texas.
I enjoy learning about Humboldt history and love the West of the Redwoods website. I found it only recently – from a mention of it on the Ferndale Museum facebook page.

In answer to your question about the Smiths, my great grandfather was George Smith who lived at Fleener Creek (south of Centerville). My great-grandmother’s family were the Fleeners who named the creek. The Fleeners lived in Petrolia for a while in the 1860’s, then moved to Fleener Creek. My maternal relatives were Ambrosini’s of the Bear River area.

I don’t know if the MVHS includes Bear River, but I have attached a fun
story about the Bear River Bridge which we found in my Grandmother’s (Audrey Ambrosini) belongings. Since my Grandparents lived next to the bridge, I assume the rancher with the unpronounceable name was my Grandfather Walter Ambrosini.

Thank you, Paul Smith, for the contribution!

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I found these maps at the Humboldt County Department of Natural Resources, a division of the Public Works Dept., at 2nd and L Streets in Eureka. Years ago i had been in there and had some of the downriver maps photocopied; since then John Isom has given us the remaining Mattole sections. I am grateful to the staff at the DNR for allowing me to copy these materials.

Sections of four maps are presented here: the Cape Mendocino, Glynn, Pt. Delgada, and Briceland quadrangles. There is a lot of detail, and unfortunately, the file sizes are unwieldy. Still, if you blow them up too much, they will be pixelly. I tried to find a compromise. If you would personally like a better-resolution copy of any particular section, please ask me and i will email it to you.

These Corps of Engineers maps, made from surveys done in 1916 and printed by “Engineer Reproduction Plant, U.S. Army, Fort Humphreys, D.C., 1921,” don’t use the same township-and-range, 36-square-mile-block system as the other historical maps here. They are on a scale of 1/62,500. Since we can’t rely on your computer screen to represent inches fairly, please understand that one of the smaller, darker-lined squares measures about 2 and 7/8 miles, or 5000 yards, across. Unfortunately, those squares are only outlined on the Briceland and Cape Mendocino quadrangles, which also show the larger 5-minute (a minute being a 60th of a degree) squares. These big 5-minute boxes measure about 4 and ½ miles across and are represented by the only lines on the Glynn and Pt. Delgada maps.

On the original, an inch=a mile, so if you can adjust the size of your image until the smaller boxes are 2 and 7/8 true inches wide, and the larger, lightly-lined squares 4 and ½ inches, you can use that one-to-one scale: inches on your screen will equal miles.

As usual, the map sequence is NW progressing to the SE, upriver; then back to the Cooskie-King Range coast, north to south. Click on each image to enlarge it; click again for more magnification; and your own computer’s zoom function (usually control and +) will bring you in even further.

Cape Mendocino, north section

Cape Mendocino, southern section

Glynn, SW section

Pt. Delgada, NE section

Briceland, north section

Briceland, southern section

Pt. Delgada, NW section

Pt. Delgada, SE section

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