The north bank of Big River once held the reason for Mendocino's existence. For 80 years sawmills operated there drawing on the timber resources upriver and today all that remains are some pilings in the river – see picture below.
Big River was dammed in 27 places – read about it here
To the east now is more than 7,000 acres of the Big River unit of Mendocino Headlands State park, established in 2002 – click here for details.
The Stanford Inn is located on the bank of Big River and its gardens were once cultivated by Chinese who sold their vegetables in Mendocino, The Inn's website has has an excellent page on the Pomo who lived there and the original settler of the area where the Inn now sits, Nathaniel Smith.
The Mendocino Lumber Company used to own the Big River Watershed before it became a State Park and still own a large area of timberland around it. Their website contains an excellent piece on the river and the woodlands.
This site – click here – is really intriguing. It contains a history of the floods, storms, and shipwrecks that took place between 1863 and 1938.