Fellow Book Benders
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    This is the 30th edition of Fellow Book Benders, a free monthly online newsletter about the ridiculous truth and historical tidbits of San Francisco, the Russian River and beyond.  This month we revisit Cazadero in West Sonoma County for the second of a two-part series.  Enjoy! For more info on my novels or to purchase one, visit
         October, 2018                                             Vol. 3, No. 10
Cazadero, Part II
      In 1927 the city of Berkeley paid George Montgomery $25,000 for the fifty acres at Elim Grove and established the Cazadero Redwood Camp for East Bay boys and girls. In 1957 it became the Berkeley Music Camp and in 1996 it was known as the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp. 
       The Cazadero Music Camp (top left photo) has been the summer home to tens of thousands of young musicians since the fifties.  The first season had just 60 young musicians, but the word spread quickly. The Cazadero Music Camp today serves a diverse student body of over 1,200 young musicians every year, ages 10 – 18, from across the Bay Area and beyond.  The 2018 lineup included: musical instrument building, set design, and a rich variety of song, dance, and acting.  In addition, a mix of woodshop, coding, cooking, gardening, sports, and crafts allows campers to write, edit and publish their own eBooks and blogs.  Instructors create a fun and supportive environment during a special edition of BandWorks Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, where kids learn how to rock-out in style alongside professionals.  The sessions run from June 18th through August 4th, with free admission to the public for all weekend jazz, orchestra, and concert band performances (bottom left photo).  
        Sidebars:     Mary Hickman... "In the 60s I was a camper there, and later I worked there. Wonderful memories of a beautiful place-Music Camp."

   The San Francisco Bay Area Council (SFBAC) established Camp Royaneh as a permanent Boy Scout site along Austin Creek near Cazadero in 1925.  The Council purchased the 120 acre Watson Ranch for $17,000.  Mrs. Watson was a nurse during the Civil War while her husband was captain of Company F out of Kansas.  All of the Watsons are buried at the pioneer cemetery in Guerneville.  The name “Royaneh” is an old Iroquois word meaning “Camp of Joy” or “Meeting Place of the Tribes”.  Northwestern Pacific steam engine No. 20 (top right photo), which weighed almost 94,000 lbs., carried the boys over the  77 mile journey from Sausalito until 1933 when the line between Duncans Mills and Cazadero was closed.
        Camp Royaneh is the longest running Boy Scout camp west of the Mississippi River, having served over 100,000 Scouts during its ninety-three year history. There is a large dining hall, campsites that offer open cabin and tent camping (upper right photo) with activities that include a dip in the Olympic-size swimming pool, hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, shooting range (bottom right photo), and much more. Pour in the powder, pack the .45 caliber ball and test your skill with a muzzleloader like the ones used throughout the Old West. Don’t forget to test your hand at throwing the “hawks” in the traditional trapper style (don’t try that at home or inside a government building). 
         Sidebars: Tony Britton... "Berkeley Camp had one of the best swimming holes on Austin Creek.  We locals were escorted out many times."
          Fred Martinez... "Spent two summer camps and my Order of the Arrow ordeal there. 1968-1970."
   Pole Mountain was formerly known as Mt. Ross, taking its name from the nearby Russian fort. In 1898 the U. S. Signal Corps erected a tower (upper left photo) on the highest peak along Sonoma County’s coast with an elevation of 2205 ft. When the federal surveyors were finished with their mapping, they left the transit-sighting pole in place, forever to be known as Pole Mountain.   It is hard to believe in this day of extreme fire danger and global warming that Pole Mountain is no longer operating.  It was the last of the lookouts for the entire county. 
         By the way, if you stumble across the “lost” Mount Ross Bench Mark in your travels, it may be worth something. Apparently it was pried from the ground and stolen. It is currently on Cazadero’s “Ten Most Wanted List”.   On a side note, this protected 238-acre property is now open to hikers, offering the public a new outdoor destination with incomparable views (lower left photo). Get lost and wander the woodland paths, which hookup with the 5,600-acre Jenner Headlands Preserve to the south.  
         Sidebars: Michael Gonsalves... "The Pole Mountain Board has resigned and the Pole Mountain Lookout has been closed. A lot of people are not happy about that, but I guess there's nothing we can do.  There are some folks trying to get it back open but I'm afraid without the assistance of our local fire departments and Cal Fire it won't happen."        
    The story of Berry’s Mill and Lumberyard began in the early 1940s. Prior to that, twenty-year-old Loren Berry and his father Merrill were working as loggers in Cazadero. The family had been living there since 1886 when Merrill’s father-in-law, George Montgomery, bought the town of Ingrams and renamed it Cazadero. In 1941 Merrill and his son began the downtown sawmill (upper right photo) on the former N.W.P. railroad depot site across the street from the General Store and the Post Office.
          In those days, logging was done in and near Cazadero to convert forests to grazing land. A few years later during World War II, Berry’s Sawmill supplied the beams used at Guerneville’s Mount Jackson mine (abandoned in1970 due to high levels of mercury). There was a thriving business in quicksilver at the time, which was required to detonate artillery shells on battleships.
        When Berry’s sawmill outgrew the site, the machinery was dismantled and moved six miles down the road to its present location along Highway 116 where Jim and Bruce (Loren Berry’s sons) carried on the family enterprise.  The business continued to prosper until one night in 1989.  The town was awakened by news of a fire at the mill, which was not an uncommon occurrence. But this was no pissant affair. In the darkness, the sky raged orange for miles. Flames engulfed the entire mill. Twenty-four-inch steel support beams sagged under the intense heat. The sawmill that had operated since 1941 was gone. The community, however, came together to rebuild Berry’s Mill and Lumberyard. Six months later, the familiar buzz of the saws was heard once again. The business evidently has run its course and is presently on the market for nine million dollars.
Sidebars: Peg Rodriquez... "I remember the whistle to start work very early in morning and the rumble of the lumber trucks."
Michael Rickard... "I went to high school with the Berry brothers. My father was the sawyer at the mill when it was in town and at the Highway 116 site."
           Richard Scofield, Paula Mae and Cheryl Wenrick all received their first bibles from Mrs. Berry, the sawmill owner's wife.

          Some of Cazadero’s folklore is dark and foreboding.  Take the case of Helmuth Seefeldt, age 68, who was bludgeoned to death on or about August 20, 1942. His body was discovered in a shallow grave on his Creighton Ridge sheep ranch five months later. Buried with him was his pet dog. His ranch foreman, Roy Cornett, was an ex-felon who some years earlier had spent time in prison for cattle rustling.  Soon after Seefeldt’s demise, Cornett was arrested for the murder, but there was not enough evidence to convict him of the crime. Cornett, however, was found guilty of forgery for falsifying three of Seefeldt’s personal checks while the victim was still in the grave.
           Now this is where the story gets interesting.  Upon his release from jail, Cornett returned to his old tricks, but on a much larger scale.  He began a counterfeit operation, cranking out Jacksons like there was no tomorrow.  The F.B.I. soon was on his trail and once again Mr. Cornett was arrested.  Realizing that another stint in prison was likely, he decided to have the last laugh.  Word circulated throughout Cazadero and the surrounding hills that Cornett’s place was up for grabs, that everything was free for the taking.  The locals took him literally and swarmed his house, carting away every stick of furniture as well as the doors, windows, walls and floorboards.  With nothing for the F.B.I. to recoup but the post and piers, they departed, dragging their egos behind them.  
          Sidebar:   The above scene with Roy Cornett is depicted in the award-winning novel, Don't Stop the Music.  Also featured is Cazadero of the late 1960s, Fern Falls, Elim Grove, and Cazanoma Lodge.

    CazSonoma Inn was formerly known as Cazanoma Lodge. At one time it was a hunting resort and now serves as a quaint bed and breakfast. Getting there is half the adventure as you wind your way up Cazadero Highway. Head up Kidd Road along a dirt path for three miles until you arrive at an English cottage with formal gardens and a lazy pool.
        Millpond Cottage, the inn’s main building, once featured a menu specializing in beer-braised bratwurst with cabbage and roulade, all cooked by a big German chef named Audo.   The bar overlooked a waterfall and a millpond where you could catch trout for your dinner. This was back in the day when Randy and Gretchen Neumann (widow of John Mino) were owners and managers (1970-2000).
         Today the inn offers California cuisine and is run by Rich Mitchell and his wife Renee. Rich, a poet and author, is often seen joining patrons at their table, engaging them in many a literary discussion. This explains why the six guest rooms are named after his favorite scribes. Typically, quarters with two queen-sized beds and large bathroom, will fetch $150 for the night.  Not a bad deal if you’re seeking serenity and seclusion.  Or just taking a respite from the apocalyptic news of the day.
Sidebars:  Linda Baswell remembers the 1950's when Walter & Agnes Lenk were the owners of the lodge. Tour buses would haul vacationers up to the inn for dinner.  The Lenk's served a "German Style" menu & their bartender was Walter's brother, John. Also, their sister, Maria Laton, was a waitress there.
            Nancy Olson-Cuff recalls fishing for trout from the pond and presenting it to the chef for her dinner.  It was an annual experience until her young Swedish cousin had one jump into his hand and scared him half to death.
Upcoming Events:
Join us on Saturday, Oct. 27, when KRCB will host the third radio broadcast in a seven-part series celebrating the lower Russian River.  Featured will be videos, live music, local historians and story tellers recounting the wondrous past of Guerneville.   The event will take place at 4 P.M. at the Rio Theater in Monte Rio.  Admission is free.  The previous shows witnessed standing room only.  See you there!
Next month, Fellow Book Benders will visit the secret tunnels of San Francisco.
Reviews for Don't Stop the Music:
        “For those who remember the era (Summer of Love), Don't Stop the Music is a delicious summary of memory.”
         San Francisco Museum and Historical Society
        "John McCarty has put together a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love (1967) that is cheerful and entertaining and even pays tribute to the beauty of west Sonoma County..."
          Sonoma County Historical Society

          “A trip back in time to the 1960’s San Francisco Fillmore District, up through the Marin & Sonoma coastline to the Russian River hippie heyday and the peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.  A nostalgic read.”
            Russian River Historical Society

            "Somehow McCarty manages to build sympathy for his motley crew as they embark on a classic road trip from San Francisco to rural northern California."
            Northern California Fulbright Association

         "Familiar folks, home-grown scenery, and candid attitudes will put you happily in the middle of all the action."
            Stephen Gross, The Press Democrat

           "All along there is danger, excitement, budding love and a number of unrighteous brawls.  The author knows what he writes about.”

            Bob Jones, Sonoma West Times & News

Attributions & Asides:
       A special thank you is due to anonymous subscribers for sharing their memories of  North Beach.   Also, a note of appreciation goes to the following individuals and organizations: Mary Hickman, Tony Britton, Fred Martinez, Michael Gonsalves, Peg Rodriquez, Michael Rickard, Richard Scofield, Paula Mae, Cheryl Wenrick, Linda Baswell, Nancy Olson-Cuff, Robin Monroe (website designer), The Press Democrat, Card Cow Vintage Postcards, Sonoma County Historical Society, Russian River Historical Society, San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, and Wikipedia.
                To subscribe a friend to this newsletter go to and scroll to the bottom of any page to "Subscribe To Our Newsletter".
                 Your privacy is important to me.  Be assured that I am not sharing your email or any other personal information. As Red Skelton used to say, "Good night and may God bless."   JMc
Copyright © 2018 John McCarty, All rights reserved.

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