The Redwood Empire

An Online Magazine with Information relating to attractions, lodging, dining,
and travel resources in selected areas of California

Mendocino County

Little River

Little River. The original white visitors in this part of the Wild Coast were fur trappers in the early nineteenth century.  There were not very many of them and they did not build permanent settlements of any size or duration.  They were followed in the middle of the century by lumberjacks and towns people from all over the world.  California was the place to be following the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill and California needed the lumber that could be found along the Wild Coast.

little river ocean view

Small "doghole schooners" began to ply the coastal waters carrying lumber south to the markets of San Francisco and beyond and supplies north to the settlements that grew up around the sawmills.  The term "doghole" was coined by sea captains who likened the small anchorages that were available in the lee of eroded headlands to dangerous holes so small that only a dog could turn around in them.  They offered virtually no protection in foul weather and even in good weather caused many a ship to founder.

The typical doghole schooner was built of local wood, generally two masted, with fore-and-aft rigging of it's sails.  It was short in length and wide of beam with a shallow draft.  They were usually skippered by Scandinavians.  These small craft were built in river mouths all along the Wild Coast in the nineteenth century. Twelve of them were built here in Little River in the early 1870s.

little river highway view little river beach view
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