Gracy and Harold – Names for the Post Office located at Camp 7 on the Skunk Route from Fort Bragg to Willits

I am quite pleased with the info we have been able to gather about the habitations that used to exist along the Skunk Route – see here. I thought the list of places was pretty complete. So, you can imagine my dismay when I was poring over the map of post offices in Mendocino County (included in my “History of California Post Offices” book – see previous blog below) when a new place turned up along the Skunk route, Gracy.

Skunk route post offices

Skunk route post offices

Gracy? Never heard of it and I am positive the name has never come up in conversation within my hearing among club members who are pretty knowledgeable of “Skunk lore”. Two of our club members are engineers on the Skunk and they know the route and history like the back of their hand and they’ve never mentioned Gracy to me.

So I dived into the book to see what the scoop was. It seems that Gracy was like Elk/Greenwood is today. The post office at Greenwood is the Elk post office – so named to avoid confusion with another California post office named Greenwood. Gracy at one time was called Harold and was the post office at Camp 7 which DOES appear on our list of places along the Skunk Route.

The post office at Camp 7 was named Gracy when it was established on May 6th, 1896. On December 27th, 1899 the office moved a mile south. The post office was located on the north bank of the Noyo River, eight miles from Fort Bragg, eleven miles east of Cleone. Before it closed on April 12th, 1912 it moved a couple more times. Camp 7/Gracy/Harold was at its height a community of 300 people.

1905 Postmark from Gracy

1905 Postmark from Gracy

How can I be sure there really was a post office at Camp 7/Gracy? Here’s a post mark from the Gracy post office to prove its existence.

Another tidbit of info to add to the website.

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Once upon a time there were two Mendocinos in Mendocino County, California…..

You think I jest? If you do, alas, you are wrong.

Cover of Post Office Book

Cover of Post Office Book

I bought this book, Post Offices of California by H.E. Salley a while back. I have many, many unread books and this one languished in the pile for quite some time. It surfaced because I was invited to the Fort Bragg Philatelic Society meeting. To try to not look like an unknowing fool at the meeting (easy to do) I dug it out and took it along as camouflage.

Whilst at the meeting I learned that my book contained the info that there were indeed two Mendocinos. The one I knew about is located seven miles south of Fort Bragg. According to my book there has been a post office there since December 1st, 1858.

The second Mendocino was named after Cape Mendocino and located 36 miles south of Eureka. The post office was established there on the 19th of October 1852. Cape Mendocino was then part of Mendocino County and later became part of Humboldt County when it was created on the 12th of March 1853. Mendocino #2 later became known as Capetown. The post office didn’t last very long – it closed on the 20th of December 1853.

How about that for a piece of totally useless local history trivia?

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1857 Map of California with detail of the Mendocino Coast

The map below I purchased from the Guest House Museum in Fort Bragg. I asked webmaster Roger Thornburn to photograph it so that we could see the minute detail. It’s the earliest map of the Mendocino Coast that I know of.

The whole map is shown below. The blue lines are the counties as they then existed.

California map of 1857

California map of 1857

This blown up section of the map shows the Mendocino Coast. As you can see there is a paucity of detail.

California Map of 1857 - Mendocino Coast Section

California Map of 1857 – Mendocino Coast Section

This last small section of the map shows the area around Mendocino – the only town shown along the entire Mendocino Coast. The Bool-dam River is Big River. Bool-dam was the Pomo name for Big River.

California Map of1857 -Small Section Around Mendocino

California Map of 1857 -Small Section Around Mendocino

A neat piece of local history. Thanks Roger.

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Diablo Pacific Short Line (DPSL) owners and operators of a portable, large-scale (G Scale) model railroad in the Bay Area

After our club was thrown out of our first home and before we moved into our second home there was much gnashing of teeth among the members as to the fact we were a model railroad club without a railroad. At one of our meetings the idea was broached of a portable layout that would be stored on a trailer I then owned and hung around the outside of the trailer when set up. The idea got as far as club member Bill Shepherd building a wooden mock-up of what it might look like. The idea died when we obtained some outdoor space to build our second layout.

DPSL Logo

DPSL Logo

Portable modular layouts have been popular in N, HO and O Scales for many years. G Scale portable layouts are some what rare. A lady visitor to our layout put me on to this modular G-Scale layout, the Diablo Pacific Short Line.

DPSL was formed as an off-shoot of BAGRS (Bay Area Garden Railroad Society) in September 2008. Ever since its incorporation membership in the DPSL has steadily grown. There is now an unprecedented level of interest and enthusiasm among the membership and the group has worked diligently to improve train operations and the physical appearance of the modules. While the DPSL continues to exhibit at many traditional venues associated with the group during its BAGRS days, every year brings two or more additional new exhibit opportunities, helping to expand the group’s range and exposure.

Diablo Pacific on the road

Diablo Pacific on the road

DPSL at a show

DPSL at a show

Here’s a short vid of one of DPSL loco’s in operation.

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The Fort Bragg and Caspar Shipping News from 1911 (103 years ago)

These cuttings, from the Fort Bragg local paper, give you an idea of just how much lumber was shipped from the ports along the Mendocino Coast when logging was THE industry here.

Loading the Phoenix

Loading the Phoenix

The Advocate April 18th, 1911

“Friday afternoon, the “Brunswick” towed the four-masted schooner “Samur” out of port. She sailed for Molendo, South America, with a cargo of 55,000 feet of sawed ties.”

The Advocate July 3rd, 1911

“The “Titania,” a large Norwegian steamer 350 feet long, called at Caspar last week and took on a million feet of redwood, sailing for Everett, Washington, where she is to complete her cargo there taking aboard two million feet of pine. From Everett she goes to Australia.”

The Advocate July 18th, 1911

“The big Norwegian tramp, “Bjonestergine,” Captain Heinersten, arrived at Noyo Saturday. She is the largest boat ever loaded at Noyo and has the longest name. She is 420 feet long, carries 9,200 tons or five million feet of lumber. She will take a cargo of 300,000 feet of redwood. From here she sails north to complete her cargo, from there to Melbourne, Australia. Captain Hammer has charge of the loading and expects to have her ready to sail Friday or Saturday.”

The Advocate September 5th, 1911

“The large English tramp “Wakefield” arrived at Noyo Friday afternoon and took on 800,000 feet of redwood lumber. Tuesday afternoon she sailed for Portland where she will complete her cargo. From Portland, she will sail to Australia to discharge her cargo.”

It takes 2,500 feet of lumber (give or take) to build a modest 3 bedroom home. Just imagine how many houses worth there were in these four shipments.

Wapoma the last of the west coast schooners

Wapoma the last of the west coast schooners

 

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Sir Arthur Percival Heywood, 3rd Baronet (25 December 1849 – 19 April 1916) builder of 15” railroads some of which are housed at Perrygrove in England

I really like this guy.

Sir Arthur Percival Heywood

Sir Arthur Percival Heywood

He lived in what might be described as the golden age of railways. He was trained as an engineer and was wealthy enough to indulge in his hobby to the full – fifteen inch railways. When he married he lived at Duffield Bank, near Duffield, Derbyshire which was near Derby, the headquarters of the Midland Railway. Since many of the directors lived in Duffield, he soon developed an interest in the building that took place at Derby Works. He also became aware of experiments by the Royal Engineers in building railways in warfare.

Plan for Six Coupled Engine

Plan for Six Coupled Engine

These first experiments for the army had been distinctly unsuccessful, as had previous attempts dating back several decades to build “portable railways” for agricultural use. At his own Duffield Bank Railway, Heywood developed what he called the “minimum gauge railway”. He settled on 15 inch (381 mm) as the optimum, his previous 9 inch line having proved to be too small to carry people in a stable manner. Built on a steep hillside, the line was an ideal testing ground and, to gain the adhesion for steep gradients and the ability to negotiate small radius curves, he built six-coupled locomotives with what he called his “radiating axle.” In addition to a six coupled engine named Ella that he built he also built a remarkable collection of carriages to accompany his locomotives.

Muriel - a six coupled

Katie - another six-coupled

Katie – another six-coupled

Now comes why I really, really like this guy.

In order to provide entertainment for his family and their guests he built a dining car with seats for a dinner party of eight persons, served from a small but practical galley. And, listen to this, he had a sleeping car in which young members of the family and their guests could slumber as the little train ran through the night, whistling into the tunnels, thundering through the stations, and trundling over the viaduct with stops for the engine to take on coal and water. Oh to have been a guest!!!

The trestle at Duffield Bank

The trestle at Duffield Bank

In recent years a sustained effort has been made by interested persons to revive the Heywood tradition. These efforts have included the publication of a new book, Sir Arthur Heywood And The Fifteen Inch Gauge Railway, and the re-creation of lost artefacts belonging to Sir Arthur such as the locomotives Ursula, Katie, and Effie, and the Duffield Bank Dining Carriage. Where can you go to see all this luverly stuff – try Perrygrove railway in England.

Replica of the dining car

Replica of the dining car

Perrygrove is definitely added to the bucket list.

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Dwarfed by the world’s biggest cruise liner, Queen Mary 2′s captain perches on the bow of his ship

I once went on the 80,000 ton Queen Mary. Not the new one but the old one that is moored at Long Beach.

The Queen Mary along with her running mate, the Queen Elizabeth were built to be a two-ship weekly express service between Southampton, Cherbourg, and New York City. Back in the 1960’s you could take a day trip across the English Channel from Southampton to Cherbourg on the Queen Mary and come back on the ferry from Cherbourg to Southampton.

During WWII the Queen Mary was painted grey and she became the “Grey Ghost,” as you can see in this picture, ferrying troops across the Atlantic travelling alone and relying on her speed to thwart German submarines.

The Queen Mary as a troop carrier

The Queen Mary as a troop carrier

So much for all that.

I have written 369 blogs and all of them up to this one have been about trains. This one isn’t about trains. This blog is about an amazing picture taken of the Queen Mary 2 to mark her tenth anniversary which wife Sarah recommended to me. Captain Kevin Oprey stood on the ship’s bulbous bow, which protrudes from the front of the 151,200 tonne liner, to pose for a portrait with his ship. The photograph was shot whilst she was docked at a port off the coast of Bali.

The Captain of the Queen Mary standing on the bulbous bow of his ship

The Captain of the Queen Mary standing on the bulbous bow of his ship

The Captain and his ship

The Captain and his ship

Close up of the Captain on the bow

Close up of the Captain on the bow

To see how the photo was taken click on the video below.

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Signs for the building which houses our layout, The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Navigation Co.

The building which houses our layout is in a building on the far side of the tracks at the California Western Railroad (CWR, aka the “Skunk train”). Up until now a visitor arriving at the CWR’s depot on the Skunk or a person looking across the tracks at our building wouldn’t have a clue that there was historical logging model railroad layout housed inside.

Club members have been debating on how to make our presence known for quite a while. Webmaster Roger Thornburn, with help from wife Nancy, solved the problem with the design of some spifflicating signs. Carpenter Ruben Rojas (aka Carlos) has been repairing the south end of the building and we talked him to putting the signs in place with the help of Roger and a couple of other club members.

The signs are in frames made of plastic pipe donated by club member Jim Williams. They were constructed by Roger. The signs are held in the frames using plastic ties and the frames are held on the side of the building by steel hooks inserted into the massive old growth redwood timbers from which our 100 year-old plus building is constructed.

What do you think? We’re VERY pleased with our efforts.

Roger Thornburn our webmaster holding the top sign waiting for the ropes to be attached to raise it into position

Roger Thornburn our webmaster holding the top sign waiting for the ropes to be attached to raise it into position

Ruben Carlos our carpenter securing the last sign in place

Carlos our carpenter securing the last sign in place

Signs in Place - the view from the CWR depot

Signs in Place – the view from the CWR depot

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