Before lumber mills dotted the landscape, the land surrounding what would become the city of Fort Bragg was home to Native American Indians, most of whom belonged to the Pomo tribe. They were hunter-gatherers who lived along the northern coast of California.
In 1855 a party from the Bureau of Indian Affairs visited the area looking for a site to establish an Indian reservation. In the spring of 1856, the Mendocino Indian Reservation was established at Noyo. It was 25,000 acres extending north from what is now Simpson Lane to Abalobadiah Creek, and east from the Pacific Ocean to Bald Hill.
In June 1857, First Lieutenant Horatio G. Gibson established a military post on the Mendocino Indian Reservation. He named the camp for his former commanding officer Captain Braxton Bragg, who later became a General in the Army of the Confederacy. Its purpose was to maintain order on the reservation.
The fort was not long-lived. The post was abandoned in October 1864. The Mendocino Indian reservation was discontinued in March 1886 and the land opened for settlement several years later. The land of the reservation was offered for sale at $1.25 per acre to settlers. The last remaining building of the Fort Bragg military post was re-located to 430 North Franklin Street.
Long before the Russians, the Americans, or even the Native Americans sought to inhabit the environs of Fort Bragg, giant redwoods populated these shores. It was these trees that attracted attention and ultimately led to the establishment of the logging railroads and mills that for more than a century were the heart of the lives of those who lived in Fort Bragg.
These trees and their valuable lumber were the focus of a man named C.R. Johnson. In 1885, along with his partners, Calvin Stewart and James Hunter, C.R. Johnson moved his mill operations from Mill Creek to Fort Bragg to take advantage of the harbor for shipping.
The story of Fort Bragg is intertwined with that of the Union Lumber Company and its founder, C.R. Johnson. Click on the links to the left to learn more. The City of Fort Bragg was incorporated in 1889 with C.R. Johnson as its first mayor.
The End of an Era – A Special Section of the Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate – November 7, 2002
This special section of the Advocate and Mendocino Beacon, reproduced in its entirety here, told of the history and demise of the biggest mill along the Mendocino Coast. The Mill was originally constructed in 1885 by the Union Lumber Company who operated it through thick and thin for nigh on a hundred years.
The Mill was severely damaged by earthquake in 1906 and was rebuilt. IT was extensively renovated in the late 1930’s. In the decades from 1940 to 1960 it produced 500,000 board feet per day utilizing two shifts. The Mill could handle giant logs in excess 10 feet in diameter. The Mill closed its doors on June 21st, 2002. Its closure was the end of an era.
Fort Bragg by Sylvia E, Bartley
One of the Arcadia Press "Images of America" Series
ISBN 13 978-1-4671-3085-1
This book, like all the Arcadia Press series, is a collection of annotated pictures from "way back then". The introduction of the book contains an excellent history of Fort Bragg. The first picture section is entitled "the World of the First People" and contains pictures of the Pomo who peacefully inhabited what became of Fort Bragg for thousands of years.
The rest of the book is a cornucopia of images of Fort Bragg and, interestingly, areas around Fort Bragg.