Archive for June, 2016

In case you haven’t heard, the Mattole Valley Historical Society has been made the generous offer of a good-sized spot of land on the Petrolia Square for the purpose of building a fireproof place to house our archives. We will also have a space large enough to start collecting and displaying all manner of artifacts… much more than what we can do at the Grange location, which is really just our office and library. In other words, we will be able to have a museum, once we have a building–and now we have been offered the site. Here is a view from Google Earth that shows, on the northwest corner of the Square in downtown Petrolia, the three-parcels-in-one that make up our future home. That’s the Petrolia Store on the left, below the Petrolia VFD firehouse and just across the road from the lower property line.

4-GoogleAir-view, site, crop

And here is the latest of a series of floor plans for the 40 x 24-foot building we (the Board) have been envisioning (note that i am not a professional architect or artist, and these are just preliminary homegrown sketches):


The museum building would be on the northernmost of the three formerly separate parcels–that is, on the northwest corner of the Square, sitting where the Knights of Pythias Hall used to be.

I have written many pages about the excitement of this promise, and also many words imploring any likely candidates in the areas of grant-writing, fund-raising, project direction, and building planning and permitting, to step forward. Mainly because of the offer, we now have an invigorated and legally functional Board of Directors. But we do need another couple of key players to get this project off the ground.

We would like to be able to pay at least one person (the Project Director) who would then be able to make the time to focus on overseeing the project. I assure you though, the money would not be the main attraction. One of the first jobs of an active push toward this vision will be to write a grant to pay the Director! So, if making a big pile of cash is anyone’s goal, this would not be a position to apply for. However, we do feel that the effort that will be required to gather our energy, time, and money and convert it into some version of a Mattole Valley historical museum in downtown Petrolia, ought to be reimbursed with a helpful stipend. So, by all means, if you are interested in working with us, please get in touch with us–contact info at end of post.

Did i mention that i will be stepping down as Director of the MVHS come December? Yes, i’ve given my several-month notice to the Board. There was too much fuzziness about who does what, and we have a lot to do. I intend to keep studying history, doing research and interviews, and writing about the Mattole Valley’s past. But i do not mean to carry on with the business of running the organization. So we will be needing a Director of the Society as 2017 rolls around;  you will be working with a cooperative Board, a competent and thorough Secretary and a great Treasurer. For now, though, we are in dire need of a Project Director and a Grantwriter for the development on the Square.

Opportunities abound!

But let me leave you with these grand visions. Of course we don’t need an all-or-nothing attitude about anything as huge (relatively speaking) as this floor plan, and we don’t need to be discouraged if it’s slow going toward an entire compound such as that depicted in the site plan below. We could certainly start our fireproof lodging of materials on the site if we could get the 10 x 12-foot shed built; or, as was just suggested to me today, we might throw up the metal building on the south end meant to be a rougher home for agricultural and industrial equipment–an easily fire-proof structure–and store everything in there, with a big sign saying “Excuse the mess! Museum building in progress,” while we work on the more homelike museum and office building.

But here are my sketches of one idea of how the site might be laid out… and my primitive drawing of a renewed and revitalized corner of the Petrolia Square. (The parking lot is just a suggestion of how cars might be able to park… we wouldn’t need that many spaces, and only the A.D.A. (handicapped) spots need to be paved… so don’t worry, we won’t Pave Paradise to put up a parking lot. More grass, native plantings, and art or outdoor equipment displays would be better. Probably most parking could be along the road around the Square.)



Please get in touch with us if you want to help make this a reality, or if you know of anyone we might tap. There are a lot of new people in the Valley lately… maybe someone would like to become an instant essential citizen, by jumping into this niche. E-mail mattolehistory@frontiernet.net, call 707-601-7300, or comment here and we will contact you! Thank you!


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Channeled by Ferndale’s dramatist, Charlie Beck. We’ve seen Charlie at the Grange performing as mountain man Seth Kinman, and as humorist/philosopher Mark Twain. Now, the Ferndale Museum presents his powerful interpretation of the spirit of “Osawatomie John” in a one-man show that promises to etch the passionate idealist indelibly into our hearts and minds.

CBeck as JBrown,6-26-16 eventThe poster mentions the potluck but i need to add that the time of the meal is noon. Please come and bring something to share for lunch. It’s also fine to drop in at 1:00 for the show, but please come in quietly and respectfully if you are a minute late.

We’ll have a donations jar out for contributions to the Grange for use of the hall.

Here’s Charlie in his thoughtful and righteous John Brown persona:


If you would like to update your memory of the known facts of John Brown’s life, try this wikipedia article: (click on this link). There’s quite a bit of information there; Charlie’s show will express the agony and zeal of the man as he follows his path to martyrdom.

The local Mattole connection is that abolitionist John Brown’s daughter, champion, and personal secretary Annie Brown married Samuel Adams and settled down on a homestead and apple orchard below Shenanigan Ridge. Descendants included Gypsy Adams Evenden and Roger Brown, both passed away not long ago. Other Brown family members settled in Humboldt County, including son Salmon Brown, who ranched at Bridgeville.

Remember–tomorrow, Sunday the 26th of June, 2016, at the Mattole Grange–noon, potluck; 1 pm, Charlie Beck as John Brown. Hope to see you there!

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Hello, lovers of the Mattole and of all things beautiful and bright!

I have a Carl Sammons painting i would like to sell. I posted it a couple months ago on our local Google Board and got a handful of responses, but nobody followed through. Perhaps the price was daunting. Well, i bought it for $1800 four years ago, so i think $2000 is a fair asking price. [UPDATE: The painting has sold!]

This painting is mid-size for a Sammons: Canvas 15 ¼ x 11-3/8, with frame 18 ½ x 14-3/4. It is marked “Cake Town” on the back… but that must be some inside joke, as it is a picture of the Bear River near Capetown, way back when, when the hillsides were bare through regular burning.

laura'sCAKE TOWN, sm

I would like to sell the painting to someone who would really cherish it—not just to a stranger interested in an investment. Before going to craigslist or eBay, i thought i would try one more way to reach Mattole- (and Capetown)-loving people.

Here’s another view of it on my rosy/peachy wall:Laura'sCAKE TOWN,atLKW

I have posted about Carl Sammons several times on here; simply enter “Sammons” in the Search bar in the upper right corner of this page, and you can go directly to each title. In short, Sammons was a painter of the Mattole Valley and Humboldt County from the 1920s, when he married local Queenie Stewart, until his death in the late 1960s (here is an art gallery’s bio on him: http://www.redferngallery.com/artistbio.php?at=CarlSammons ).

One reason i have to sell it is that i couldn’t resist buying another beautiful painting, this time a watercolor by Alan Sanborn, this past month. (Darn that credit card, it makes art impossible to resist!) It was an Artists’ Open Studio weekend in Arcata, and we strolled into Alan’s home and looked at scores of striking landscapes and depictions of homes and gardens, mostly of Humboldt County but several from New England. Alan does a particularly good job with light–the effects of sunshine on a rainbow of flowers, on the gold of Humboldt grasses, and in the bright white of painted wooden porches. Living in Humboldt, of course i had seen many print examples of his work, but had never really checked out his work until that weekend. And look what i saw!


This is a big (17.5″ x 23.5″), deeply saturated watercolor. It’s behind a glass frame, which is why you see the reflections. From this vantage point, i just felt like i was there, at the foot of Cedar’s driveway, looking up at the familiar landmark. And despite the eminent paintability of St. Patrick’s Church, i really only know of three other versions: a line drawing that Tony Anderson made years ago, and had printed on a postcard; a card i saw here in town, can’t remember the artist, of a nighttime scene with the steeple next to a full moon; and of course the most famous one, by our old friend Carl Sammons:


This 1947 oil painting is the one that St. Patrick’s Catholic Church has made into a glossy blank greeting card, which they sell to raise funds for the church. Let me know if you are interested in those cards, and i will try to find out if they still have them for sale.

Speaking of local art–we’ve hit on two different media, so now let’s go to photography. Stephen Remington, about whom i’ve posted before (again, just type his name into the Search bar), now has an exhibit up in the main hall of the Arcata City Hall, corner of 7th and F Streets, just southeast of the Plaza. His photographs are great illustrations of why landscape photography is indeed an art, not just a representational tool for recording a moment in time. They are vibrant and rich without being overly jacked-up in the color department. That is, somehow they feel not real like being there, but almost more real. For instance, both the silver-gray color (not what we’d usually consider much of a color) and the perspective caused by the composition of the land, water, and sky lines, as well as the receding shapes of the clouds of birds, are hyper-real in these two scenes:


(Note: I’m sort of sorry about the bad quality of my pictures… but not too sorry, as i really hope you will go see the exhibit in person if you’re in town.)

Stephen has generously offered to give one of these gorgeous photographs to the Mattole Valley Historical Society, once the pictures come down from the City Hall at the end of July. He was thinking of making a contribution to the walls of our new museum in downtown Petrolia. I believe he is quite right–that artwork such as this, celebrating the natural beauty that helps make this place the perfect home (for some of us), will be just the right finishing touch–but when we do get hold of the picture, it will go on the wall of our new green office at the Grange.

I believe this is the one he is thinking of donating. Maybe most of us have taken photos from this spot, but the difference between Stephen’s shots (and printing expertise) and mine is radical.


I hope you don’t mind my using this Mattole history blog as my personal sales page. Since my taste in art is probably pretty much the taste of anyone who loves this place as i do, i thought i might keep you abreast of what’s cooking.

I can’t absolutely promise this, because who knows what financial hardship might compel me to sell a painting when necessary… but when i die, i think the new museum would be a good place for my Mattole and Humboldt artwork to go. Meantime, if i have to sell anything, you all– locals and lovers of local– will be the first to know.

So let me know if you want the Bear River (Cape Town) painting! (You can call my cell at 707-601-7300 and i’ll get back to you.)

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