Gualala

Gualala Mill around 1900
Gualala Mill around 1900

Gualala If you pronounce the "G" they know you are a visitor. Gualala it seems was not always Gualala but also Walahlee, Walalla and Walhalla. The history of the name and the pronunciation can be found here. Gualala is the last "stop" at the southern end of the Mendocino Coast Redwood Empire. Gualala is a Pomo name meaning "where the waters flow down." The mill owned by Haywood R. Harmon in Gualala (see picture below) was located at the mouth of Mill Gulch, now known as China Gulch. The mill owned 4,457 acres of timberlands in Mendocino County and 13,552 acres in adjacent Sonoma county. The Mill Company started a company store that operated until the mid-1960s, when it burned, along with a warehouse, water tower, and stairs down to the river.

Gualala Mill and ferry across Gualala River
Gualala Mill and ferry across Gualala River

The Gualala River Railway Company, a subsidiary of the company which owned the Gualala mill ran up the Gualala River and also to Bourne's Landing. The railroad was unique – it was neither narrow gauge or the standard four-foot eight and a half inches but five foot eight inches known locally as "Roman Chariot" gauge. The reason for the gauge was to give the horse or horses room. We cannot find pictures of the railroad when it was horse powered so we cannot be sure.

Engine Number One
Engine Number One

The railway had four engines with three different smokestacks, the diamond, the balloon, and the cauliflower, to keep the sparks from setting the woods on fire. Engine Number One (see picture below) was a little geared locomotive built by Miners Foundry and Machinery Company in San Francisco. The Gualala engine no longer exists but one exactly like it does, and is operational. You can ride it if you go to Fort Humboldt in Eureka.

The railroad at Gualala was the subject of pages 5-8 in Issue 514 of the Western Railroader issued in August-September 1984.This magazine is reproduced in full here. Download a pdf version adobe pdf here.

Bull team at Gualala River
Bull team at Gualala River
The Gualala Hotel looks just the same today
The Gualala Hotel looks just the same today
Gualala Hotel today
Gualala Hotel today

Story of Sea Ranch by Richard Dillon Published in 1965

This small booklet ostensibly is about the history of Sea Ranch. Sea Ranch is a fourteen mile long ocean side property and community just south of Gualala. The development is the brain-child of architect Lawrence Halprin and his associates. Originally this property was the home of the Pomo and was later part of the Garcia land grant in the times when the Spain controlled this part of California. The booklet details all of this and gives a lot of details about Gualala the nearest town to the property and heretofore is our best source of details on Gualala.

Property of Club Member Tony Phillips