A Narrative History of Shelter Cove

Note, this book, Gem of the Lost Coast – A Narrative History of Shelter Cove by Mario Machi has been out of print for some time. Mainly for the benefits of locals and visitors to Shelter Cove, I’ve done my best to transcribe it here an old copy I found. Please pardon any typos I have yet to find and correct. Feel free to bring them to my attention or to make any other suggestions for additions or corrections to this website: Contact. Also, this has been shared with the Machi family and since making this available here, I believe reprints are now available at the Shelter Cove General Store.
See also GoodReads Reviews of this book.

– Chris

P.S. if you enjoy Mario Machi’s book, feel encouraged to stop by Mario’s of Shelter Cove, Shelter Cove General Store, or Gem of the Lost Coast Jewelry (all owned/run by descendants of the author Mario Machi) and give them some business or appreciation, or, if you’re remote, feel encouraged to make a donations to the National Ataxia Foundation at in honor of the late Thomas Joseph Machi, Jr., 1957-2021. The Machis have lived at Shelter Cove for the last 90 years.

P.S. for other bits of history of Shelter Cove, see
Links on Shelter Cove History and
Bob McKee, a Cornerstone of Shelter Cove History
Gem of the Lost Coast can be found in some libraries.

A Narrative History of Shelter Cove
By Mario Machi


Much credit for this book is due to my wife Shirley, my two children, Toni and Gina and my son-in-law Bud, who displayed a great deal of interest and enthusiasm during the writing of this manuscript.

Tom Machi, my nephew, is responsible for the excellent etchings and his artwork is outstanding.


Today, the visitor in Shelter Cove is a little disturbed by the sharp turns and steep grades he encounters on his way from U.S. 101. He is totally oblivious to the fact that this road is the original wagon road that was used in the early days, and he has no knowledge of the countless horses and wagons that struggled over these same turns from Shelter Cove to the interior hauling passengers and freight in the 1800’s, and from Briceland to the Cove laden with barrels of tan bark extract in the early 1900’s.

When he arrives in the cove, he is struck by its scenic beauty but has no inkling of the activity that took place at that time. A 900 ft. pier is hard to visualize, nor can an individual imagine the unload- ing of passengers and freight when the steam schooners were tied to the dock.

Mario Machi was born in San Francisco, California. His first encounter with Shelter Cove was in May of 1930 at the age of fifteen. At that time, he was employed by the San Francisco International Fish Company, the owner of the original Shelter Cove Wharf & Warehouse property. His father helped to organize the company and was a stockholder.

During his employment at the cove, he met and became acquainted with men fifty to seventy years of age who had been wagon drivers, tan bark peelers and construction workers during the boon days of the late 1880’s and the early 1900’s. He listened to many tales that were related to that period.

At the outbreak of World War II, he was stationed in the Philippines with the 31st Infantry Regiment. On April 9, 1942, he became a Japanese prisoner of war and was a survivor of two major battles, Abucay and Mt. Samat, the Death March, Camp O’Donnel, Cabanatuan, and Bilibid prisons.

He is the author of the “Emperor’s Hostages”, a book relating his experiences during the war.

After the war he completed a teaching course at San Francisco State College and was an elementary school teacher in the Southern Humboldt Unified School District for twenty-three years.

Mar io has now realized his life-long dream of owning and operating a fishing resort in Shelter Cove. He and his wife, Shirley, have two daughters, Antonette and Gina Maria.

Shelter Cove has an interesting history connected with its development and the following pages will unfold a fascinating account of its growth that will surprise the reader.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – Indian Lore

In the Northwestern part of California there is an area where the coastline has a steep rugged shoreline that drops down sharply to the ocean. It is approximately fifty miles in length.

The southern boundary is Rockport, a thriving logging community in the early 1900’s.The northern boundary is Petrolia, the site of one of the first oil wells in California. Half of this coastline is in Mendocino and the other half is in Humboldt County. The portion that is in Mendocino falls into the ocean in the form of steep cliffs and the waves pound against the bluffs leaving little room for beachcombers.

A black sandy area occupies the northern section in Humboldt County. It is a wide beach and extends northward about fifteen miles. High above this sandy beach towers King’s Peak with an elevation of 4500 feet, one of the youngest mountains on the Pacific Coast.

A short distance out in the ocean lies Delgada Canyon, over 360 fathoms deep. Almost 7000 feet is the distance from the summit of King’s Peak to the bottom of the ocean floor.

In the middle, between Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, is Shelter Cove, a natural, shallow draft harbor offering refuge from turbulent northwest winds. There is no protection from southerly storms.

Thousands of years ago when the coastal mountains were thrust upward from under the ocean an unusual upheaval probably occurred to form the physical characteristics of the cove.

If one walks to the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean and turns facing the mountains, he can follow the contour of the range.

King’s Peak and Delgada Canyon

Starting from the north, gazing at King’s Peak and continuing southward, there seems to be a gap above the cove area where the mountain range ceases and then continues on its way southward.

At some time in an early geological era, a tremendous cataclysmic upheaval probably occurred, and the land was pushed upward and out into the ocean forming the cove. The soil on the flat is a black loam and the area extending towards the beach resembles a huge alluvial fan that could have been deposited by the upward thrust of the land.

Because of the fertile soil, a crop of rich grass grew as high as a man’s head and this luxuriant grass that Mother Nature provided became the basis for the demise of an Indian paradise in Shelter Cove. This rich, natural habitat for the grazing of cattle and sheep lured the white man to this area.

In the 1500’s when the Spanish galleons were coming back from China, they followed the Japan Current down the coast of Oregon and when they encountered adverse northwesterly weather probably sailed close to shore. Shelter Cove was a safe anchorage on the Northern California coast where they could rest and replenish their water supply. The harbors of Eureka and Fort Bragg were inaccessible at this time and these early Spanish sailors probably took advantage of the calm waters in the cove.

The Spanish explorer, Vizcaino, sailing up the North Coast in the 1600’s, named the strip of land jutting out from the cove, Punta Del Gada, meaning “Thin Edge”.

Little has ever been said about Russians in Shelter Cove. In the early 1800’s, it is possible that there could have been extensive activity in the taking of otter. The rich tide pools and the over- abundance of shellfish must have sustained a large otter population.

Although no trace of a Russian settlement has ever been disco- vered, one could have been established. The cove was an excellent area for a post. Fresh water was available and materials for building purposes were plentiful. The Russians probably wanted to extend their territorial rights further south and that is possibly the reason for the establishing of Fort Ross and not Shelter Cove as a base.

A legend involving a Russian ship has been handed down through the generations. It seems that a vessel went aground below King’s Peak. The Indians killed all the survivors and buried a treasure in a cave at the base of the mountain. An earthquake covered the entrance, and its location has remained a mystery. Several individuals have come to Shelter Cove seeking information about this King’s Peak treasure.

In 1860, Lewis, a government surveyor exploring the North Coast of California on foot came upon the cove and described it in his records as a “weird place, well calculated for a seaside resort.” He also wrote about seeing many caves. They do not exist today as they were probably obliterated by the 1906 earthquake. Lewis must have been a far-sighted individual but long before he explored Shelter Cove, many inland Indians were well acquainted with the area, and it is possible they visited it extensively during the summer months.

On the beach front below the cliffs at Shelter Cove, extremely rich tide pools abound with many forms of sea life. Sea anemones, mussels, abalone, clams, chitons, limpets, and turbans, compete for survival. Young fish hide under kelp beds and dart out to snap at anything that appears to be edible. Ling cod, cabezone, sea trout, and perch, lie between the rocks and the kelp. Hermit crabs slowly move around in open areas and an occasional octopus can be seen.

A Spanish galleon

Otters attracted the Russians

It was this abundance of sea life that attracted the early Indians to Shelter Cove. The tide pools provided an ample dinner table with very little effort involved in harvesting the food. The abundant supply made life easy and waiting for the tide to ebb was the only problem that concerned the natives.

Unlike the Aztec Indians who had to struggle and plant corn for their existence, the Shelter Cove Indians were never hungry. In 1860, when Lewis wrote in his records that Shelter Cove was well calculated for a seaside resort, little did he know that this area had probably been used as a resort by the Indians for many years.

In exploring the area around the cove, some interesting facts about life before the advent of the white man were found. From the shell mounds and the amount of rocks found overlooking the tide pools, it was apparent that the Indians spent a great deal of time on the edge of the cliff.

Many rocks had gouges that seemed to fit the hand and enabled an individual to grasp them more firmly. Some were used for pounding and breaking open seashells and others had a cutting edge that enabled the holder to remove meat from the shells. There were many of these rocks exposed above the surface of the ground and others were buried a few inches below.

Tide pools

During the explorations, human bones were discovered in one area. Upon digging, archaeologists from the University of California unearthed three skeletons. One was an adult and two were children. They were buried in a crouch position, and it was determined that these Indians were members of the Sinkyone tribe, and it was discovered that the bones dated back to the 1400’s.

It is not known if the Indians were familiar with the season for taking mussels. This shellfish is dangerous during the summer months and may cause a fatal food poisoning. The finding of these two children with an adult skeleton could possibly mean that they could have been victims of mussel poisoning.

Further exploration unearthed a human bone halfway down the cliff. Upon digging carefully, a hip bone was exposed and directly against and touching it was a spear head. This discovery pointed to the fact that this individual had probably met with foul play. The position of the spear head was very unusual as the Indians probably did not have pockets in that area.

It was also discovered that where every little spring emptied into the ocean there was a small shell mound indicating that a family probably camped in these shallow gulches because of the availability of fresh water and for protection from strong winds.

In several of these mounds, pieces of obsidian were found. As there is no obsidian in the geological formations around Shelter Cove, it was determined that some of these inhabitants were inland Indians. Obsidian is common in Lake County.

The Indians had a difficult time surviving storms on the edge of the cliff. Shelter Cove has a very mild climate, but the winters are devastating. Sixty mile an hour winds are common, and the rainfall sometimes reaches one hundred inches.

Waiting for the tide to ebb

It is known that the Indians were not skilled in building adequate shelters, and probably these early inhabitants left the area in the winter and went back to the interior.

By contrast, in the summer, they were not too happy with their inland homes. The weather was hot, and they were pestered with insects.

On their trek to the ocean, they had to pack their belongings on their backs and after following well marked trails arrived at their summer quarters. The tide pools and the beaches were delightful and exciting for the children as well as the adults and they probably looked forward to their annual pilgrimage.

Salt was another important item that attracted Indians to Shelter Cove. Many days were spent watching huge waves smash- ing against the rocks. With the help of the sun and the evaporation of water, many small deposits of salt could be found. This salt was a valuable mineral that Mother Nature gave to the Indians for trad- ing purposes. It could be exchanged for deerskin clothing, stone tools, and other items.

Although Shelter Cove was probably a summer residence for Indians, it was felt that a permanent camp should also have been established somewhere in the area.

Explorations up gulches and around ravines were fruitless but upon entering a deep ravine one day at the base of a steep hillside, a flat area was discovered covered with luxuriant grass.

Several probes into the dirt exposed a shell mound. Digging into the mass of shells, the length of a shovel handle, the bottom of the pit was not exposed.

This ravine was located about one half mile from the ocean. Its sides were steep and at the bottom a small stream found its way to the sea. The slopes surrounding the ravine were heavily wooded with Alder trees and this gulch not only gave excellent protection from heavy winds but also provided a well-hidden camp from possible enemies.

The inhabitants made daily trips to the ocean and carried seafood back from the tide pools. The size of the shell mound and the depth of the shells probably indicate that the Indians occupied this area for a long period of time.

Another favorite Indian camping area was located near the south end of the present-day airstrip. A large grove of willow trees grew profusely and gave shade and protection from strong winds. A small creek ran over the ground and emptied into the ocean.

“The Willows”

The early white men called this camp “The Willows”. It was untenable during the winter.

Nowhere could the Indians find a setting that provided them with an over-abundance of food, a delightful climate, and an exciting place to spend a vacation as Shelter Cove, but little did these people realize that countless civilizations flourished for many years thinking they were safe and secure not knowing that with a snap of a finger fate could destroy their lives and take away everything they cherished.

Early in the 1880’s, because of the excellent pasture, pioneers brought cattle into graze. Soon it was discovered that a few of the herd were missing and the Indians were blamed for the loss. It was said that on a foggy day angry white men sailed up the coast from Fort Bragg, landed on the beach, climbed the hills, and came down unnoticed to the camp at the “Willows”. The Indians were trapped on the cliff edge and were annihilated. A great deal of time was spent looking for human bones at the site but not a trace was found.

This incident probably brought an end to the bountiful life that the Indians enjoyed for many years and may have desecrated the paradise that Mother Nature had provided for her children.

Chapter 2 – Early Pioneers

The early pioneers in Shelter Cove were a courageous, hard working group of men. They labored to overcome obstacles that Mother Nature had already instituted. The ocean, cliffs, and road construction over impossible terrain were tackled with great courage.

Ernest McKee was one of these pioneers. Some of his descendants are still living in this area. In 1974, the following article appeared in the Redwood Record’s award-winning supplement marking Garberville’s 100th anniversary:


“Indian Jim” lived at Shelter Cove when the white men first came to Southern Humboldt County. He told of tribal memories in his clan of seeing “the boats with sails” pass by the cove in eons past. Indian Jim said that later his people were frightened and hid in the Willows when they saw “the big boats with the white smoke” pass by their Shelter Cove village where they lived, fished, and hunted the coast deer.

In the early 1850’s, two white men, Hamilton and Oliver, came to the Shelter Cove slope where the Indians lived, to claim “squatter’s rights” on the land that was so rich in grass for their cattle. Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Oliver began to miss some of the stock. They could ill afford to lose any cattle to the Indians, so they followed the Indian trails to a gap in the coast range above Shelter Cove where the two white men engaged in a battle with the Indians and Mr. Oliver was killed. That pass was called “Oliver’s Gap” by later settlers in Southern Humboldt County. Mr. Hamilton who escaped the Indian arrows, made a hasty retreat and decision to leave. He rode out over Telegraph Mountain without a backward look at his ranch, stock, or living quarters, toward the south and the Mendocino coast.

Mr. Hamilton met the three Ray brothers, who were on the way up the Mendocino Coast. They were traveling along the ocean with stock looking for land to take up. John, William, and James Ray traded Mr. Hamilton a span of oxen in return for the whole of the Shelter Cove Ranch and went on north to claim the land and squatter’s rights relinquished by Mr. Hamilton. The Ray brothers did the only sensible thing: they married Indian women and held the Shelter Cove Ranch ranging their stock on the rich, grassy slopes and increasing their herd.

In 1873, a family named Yates arrived at Shelter Cove. They formed a partnership with the Ray family at the Cove. Mr. Yates later dissolved his partnership with the Rays and a man named John Dies bought into the dairy at the Ranch and operated it with the Ray family; he also came to disagree with the Ray brothers and their families. Mr. Dies filed on two claims, homesteading the sections for some years and eventually selling the two land claims to the Notley brothers in 1912.

In 1884, the two Robart brothers came to Shelter Cove from Ferndale, California. They were originally from England. The Robarts formed the Shelter Cove Warehouse Company, and oper- ated the company in conjunction with their Port Kenyon Ware- house Company, on the Eel River. In 1885, the Robart’s firm built a 960 ft. wharf out into the ocean, for the loading of deep-water steamers and ships sailing from San Francisco to Eureka, California. Ships had been stopping at the cove under an agreement with the Ray brothers, made in the early 1850’s.”

The author believes that he should pause at this time in the history of the cove to dwell on the conditions and problems that existed during the construction of the pier.

There was no road connecting San Francisco to Northwestern California. The Redwood Highway was non-existent. Here was an opportunity for Shelter Cove to become a shipping center and for the owners to reap a rich harvest. The first problem encountered was the choosing of the pier site. The cove is divided into two sections. On the north side lies a rocky shallow shoal. Waves roll in steadily and it is a dangerous area. On the south side, the bottom of the cove is sandy and drops off from the beach in a steady slope to about 30 feet and it remains fairly calm.

A definite dividing line separates the rocky and sandy areas. This line was chosen for the pier site but it must be understood that during a southerly storm all favorable conditions were cancelled.

The next item was access. Fifty-foot cliffs extended around the beach, and it was necessary to find a way down the steep slopes. With the use of a steam-donkey engine, horses, and hand labor, the project was started. The cliff was to be partly excavated and partly a fill.

A redwood bulkhead 200 feet long and 15 feet high was constructed to hold back the ocean. The logs had to be squared and this was done manually. A broad axe, resembling a large hatchet with a long handle was used. It was razor sharp and the woodsman stood alongside the log and with a full swing cut into its side and chipped off enough wood to square the timber. Needless to say, this was a dangerous job. One miscalculation in swinging the axe could cut the lower left leg, and at this time there were a few men seen in Humboldt County on crutches with the lower left extremity missing.

The Bulkhead in 1937

As the bulkhead progressed, large rocks were dragged by the donkey engine and placed behind it. Horses were also used to move them in place. Then came the driving of the piling for the pier.

The first hundred feet almost proved tobe a disaster. Solid bed- rock appeared two feet below the surface. The piling were unable to penetrate the hard rock but it was decided to continue and after driving piling a short distance out into the ocean, conditions became more favorable and the poles were driven the required nine feet into the mud. Steel points that were forged in the blacksmith shop were attached to the tips of the piling in an attempt to penetrate some of the bedrock.

Fir piling were not considered adequate for saltwater usage.The builders did not treat the poles with creosote or oil and it did not take long for parasites to eat their way into the wood. One of the pioneers, looking into the future, decided to plant eucalyptus trees to replace the firs as this wood was more resistant to saltwater. A fine stand of these trees is growing in Shelter Cove today. The pier has been gone for many years, but the stately trees are still thriving. Only three or four of these eucalyptus piling were used while the dock was in operation.

It must have been-a fascinating sight to watch the pier under construction. Many people from the interior journeyed to Shelter Cove in wagons and camped close to the site. The pile driver was probably the most interesting piece of equipment to watch. The raising of the hammer that weighed 2000 lbs. up to the top of the gin poles and the sudden releasing of the brakes that sent it crashing down with a loud report was an exciting event to behold. Under its own power, the pile driver was able to pull itself into any position although it had to be fastened with chains to keep it from falling into the ocean.

In a short time, the pioneers that constructed the pier began to experience the effect of winter storms. They discovered that float- ing logs did the most damage.

The Pile Driver

With the force of the waves, they would crash into the piling, breaking and uprooting them. The pile driver was kept busy all winter repairing the wharf and sometimes high seas would knock the planks off the deck.

At first a steady stream of pack mules carried the freight to and from the cove. Wool, hides, deerskins, sheep, dried venison, fruit, eggs, arid butter were shipped out.

Household utensils, clothing, canned goods, bulk goods, such as flour, sugar, salt, sacks of beans, and barrels of whiskey, were brought into port and taken inland. When a wagon road was completed to the interior, freight was greatly increased.

Ernest McKee’s account continues at this point:

“One of the earliest steamships making the stop at Shelter Cove was the steamer “Pelican”.

It was a vessel propelled by a large side wheel. The Pelican anchored off Point Delgada at Shelter Cove to discharge and pick up freight.

Fifteen-ton lighters were used to move freight from the shore to the Pelican, and then returning from the steamship with supplies to the sandy beach of the Cove. In the winter the lighters were stored on a sloping pier, above the heavy sea and storms of the Pacific. In 1887, the Robarts brothers completed their operations of the wharf and hotel at Shelter Cove and gave up the lease they held with the Ray brothers, leaving the area.

Shortly after 1887, a blind man named Twilliger came to manage the hotel at the Cove, with his family. Mr. Twilliger was an accomplished musician; he held dances at the Shelter Cove Hotel and gave piano lessons on his fine, long, rosewood concert piano. The piano was brought “Round the Horn” to the Cove, and when the Twilligers left the hotel the rosewood piano was bought by Bert McKee and taken to the McKee Ranch home place in Southern Humboldt County. The McKee home place was burned to the ground during the year of 1943, the rosewood piano, and many fine large paintings done by Frank McKee, were destroyed in the fire.

One of the first passengers to arrive on the side-wheeler Pelican was Evangeline McKee of Dubuque, Iowa. She was the mother of Frank McKee at the birth of their first child. He was named Albert McKee and was born on July 27th, 1873.

The Shelter Cove Ranch was taken over by the Bank of Mendocino in 1888, 1890. John Ray continued to manage and operate the ranch and varied interests until 1894. In 1894, the Shelter Cove Ranch was leased from the Bank of Mendocino by George Gowan, of Sherwood, Mendocino County. The Gowan family consisted of six grown sons and two daughters.

Briceland to Shelter Cove by pack mule

Hiram, Ernest, Byron, Jud, Cecil, and Frank Gowan helped their father. George Gowan and Mother, Elizabeth Gowan, ran the dairy and the Shelter Cove Hotel. Ada Gowan was old enough to help her mother at the hotel, while Goldie Gowan was a small girl when her family moved to Shelter Cove. A Hon was born toGeorge and Elizabeth Gowan while they lived at the Cove.

The steamship, the “Mary Hume” and the ship “Emily” brought hunters from San Francisco on trips to Southern Humboldt County, landing at the Cove wharf also. All of their supplies were shipped by boat from “The City.” (All Northern Californians used the name “The City” when referring to San Francisco, California.)

In the 1880’s, the Shelter Cove Ranch was an outing, camping, and vacationing area for many people from San Francisco and from Petrolia and other parts of Northern California. Pioneer families loaded their children into large wagons and used horse and buggy transportation to make the trip to visit at Shelter Cove and the McKee Ranch. The visits were of an extended nature, since they all had ranching interests in common and travel was at a slow pace.

Early steam schooner

Other vacationers came by boat from San Francisco, landing at the wharf in Shelter Cove. One large group who came by boat from San Francisco each year was “The Glass Blowers,” who were given a six-week vacation during the late summer. Numerous friends of the Frank McKee family visited at the Thorn McKee Ranch from San Francisco; doctors and dentists liked to come for abalone and mussels at the Cove, and to hunt at the McKee Ranch for deer. The biggest attraction was the hunting for deer. They camped at “The Willows” near the ocean and stayed at the McKee Ranch while hunting. The campers, who included the Glass Blowers also camped at the Dunn Ranch, on the creek near Shelter Cove, and stopped at the “Humboldt House” which was the name given by John Ray and his wife Sally, to their old ranch home at the Cove.

There were many interesting and unusual people who lived and worked at the Cove in the early years of its history. Among that group was one named George Morgan. He should be remembered for his work, since it was he who built the large lighters used to bring the freight and passengers from the boats, into the Cove and to transport the wool, tanbark, and passengers to the steamboats, before 1885. Morgan also built log houses for people at the Shelter Cove area. He built two fine barns for Frank McKee, at Thorn, on the McKee home place.

Frank Francis, who was called “French Frank” was also a well-known character of the early 1800’s. He was a French Canadian, and an excellent deep-sea fisherman, working off the Cove, and Point Delgada.

He sold his fish to people at Shelter Cove and traveled all the way to Garberville by horse and wagon, selling fish along the long route, in the early days before the turn of the century.

French Frank was an experienced boatman. It was he who towed the lighters out to sea by rowboat to the steamers; unloading passengers and supplies from the outer bay to the bulkhead on the shore. My uncle, Lonnie McKee, brought a huge halibut to the McKee Ranch, on his freight wagon, that French Frank had caught. It weighed 125 lbs. and was over five feet long. French Frank was always addressed very formally and properly “Mr. Francis” by my mother, Mrs. McKee, when she had an occasion to buy fish from his wagon on his trips enroute to Garberville. French Frank passed away in 1902.”

John Ray’s “Humboldt House” as it lay in ruins in 1932.

This ends Ernest McKee’s account of early history in Shelter Cove.

The Notley brothers, William F. and George, were also two of the early settlers at Shelter Cove. In 1902, they purchased the Shelter Cove Ranch. George Notley became associated with the Wagner Leather Company in the operation of the Shelter Cove Warehouse Company, holding the position for some years. William F. Notley concerned himself solely with ranching and raising cattle. His first home at the Cove later became the Shelter Cove Hotel. It was destroyed by fire about 1912. It was about this time that a new hotel was constructed, and it was also destroyed by fire.

(The author was acquainted with William F. Notley when he was eighty years old. He was a tall man, barrel chested, with steely blue eyes.)

In 1906, the Chico, a large steam freighter, foundered off Point Delgada, followed shortly after by the Alcazar, off of Needle Rock, four miles south of Shelter Cove. In 1930, at an extreme low tide, the Chico’s boiler could be seen sticking out of the rocks.

The Pacific Oak Extract Works

The freight being handled on the wharf was not covering the maintenance costs of the pier and it seemed that the venture was going to fail. After one winter’s operation, the early pioneers finally realized that it was almost impossible to stand up against Mother Nature and her tremendous forces. Just as they were about to give up, an industry suddenly appeared that benefitted the pier and the whole of Southern Humboldt County.

Ed Wagner, a former resident of Garberville, was the son of Ed C. Wagner and the grandson of Charles Wagner, two gentlemen who were involved in the leather tanning business in Stockton, California, under the firm name of Wagner Leather Company. They became interested in the Shelter Cove area.

The following is Ed’s story as he wrote it in a historical edition for the Redwood Record in Garberville, California:

“The California tan oak tree, native to this area, once grew profusely in the Shelter Cove area. Its bark, made into extract, was a prime ingredient used in the tanning of sole leather and was the reason for the establishment of the Pacific Oak Extract Works in It Briceland, a small community, fifteen miles east of the ocean.

The Wagner Leather Company of Stockton was securing tan oak luuk from the Santa Cruz area, the chunks shipped by barge and, railroad to Stockton. Realizing there was a plentiful supply of bark 111 the Southern Humboldt area, the Messrs. Wagner came here to make a survey. They concluded that with the abundance of the tan oak trees, and the nearby harbor of Shelter Cove to facilitate shipping, an extract plant at Briceland would be desirable and economically feasible. In the early 1900’s the Wagners established the Pacific Extract Works and set about to build their plant.

Tan bark peelers

The tan oak trees had to be cut and the bark peeled when the sap was flowing. The wood was saturated by the running sap and, instead of aging slowly, as hardwood should, the sudden exposure caused it to crack as it dried. Unfortunately, this resulted in the wood of the tree being rendered useless. Although Ed C. Wagner experimented and tried to find a use for the naked trees, it was a problem no one solved.

The aged bark then was ground and put into large tanks where warm water was passed over it and re-circulated, the method much like that of percolating coffee. This caused the leaching of the tanning material from the bark into the water.

Next, the liquid was removed and placed in a vacuum pan to boil and pump off the vapors; a continuing procedure until the liquid was about the consistency of molasses. While still warm, it was placed in barrels and then hauled to Shelter Cove by wagon. Next,it was loaded aboard a coastwide steamer and sent to Stockton for use at the tannery.

Arrangements were made to buy stumpage from the settlers of the area. Crews were engaged, and base camps set up in the woods complete with cooking and feeding facilities. The choppers cut the trees and peeled the bark, loading it on the backs of mules to be hauled to designated pickup points.

The transportation of barrels of extract from the Briceland plant to Shelter Cove took all day. The barrels were taken as far as the Nooning Grounds, the halfway point between Briceland and Shelter Cove. There they were transferred to wagons which had come from Shelter Cove laden with tools, food, and other commodities. The loads were transferred: the Shelter Cove wagons completing the journey of the extract barrels, and the teams from Briceland returning with merchandise needed in the plant and the woods camps. By arranging a transfer center, the drivers from each direction could complete their work and get back home in a day.

Whiskey was an important item transported on the wagons in barrels. A humorous story that is true was often told about a traffic jam of horses and wagons on the Shelter Cove Road.

One day, as the horses were struggling up the hill out of the Cove, a barrel of whiskey fell off the back of a wagon and loosened its seams as it hit the ground.

The driver and two passengers ran to the rear and upon seeing the whiskey flowing on the ground quickly built a dirt dam to contain the spirits. In the meantime, other wagons appeared, and the drivers and passengers gathered around the barrel. It was said that traffic came to a standstill for two days as the wagons did not have any drivers capable of handling the horses. “Whiskey Flat” was the name given to the spot where this incident took place. (The author is familiar with the site.)

The Nooning Grounds

A unique method was used to control the wagons on the long steep, roads. The teamster would cut down a sizable tree and would then chain it to the rear of the wagon. The horses pulled the tree downhill and there would not be any way that the wagon and horses could get out of control.

The Wagner family held ownership in the land and the wharf, hotel, and store at Shelter Cove. Ed H. Wagner of Garberville remembered many a picnic on the beach at Shelter Cove.

The Pacific Oak and Extract Works continued in operation until the supply of tan oak bark in Briceland was exhausted. The plant 1H closed about 1920. The Wagners wished to continue in the business, and when the Redwood Highway was built north from Cummings to Garberville, they tried to get the County to put a road up Redwood Creek where the present road runs from Redway to Briceland.

Tan bark wagons

This would have enabled them to move farther inland to cut tan oak and continue shipping from Shelter Cove. The County rejected the idea at that time, and since the haul over the Old Briceland Road (by way of the present airport) was too expensive, the Pacific Oak Extract Works was closed, and the plant was dismantled.

The closing of the extract plant ends Ed’s account of the tan bark boom.

A feeling of futility at that time hung over the pier. The steam schooner, the “Sea Foam” continued to make regular trips to Shelter Cove to unload passengers and freight. It was not economically feasible to maintain the pier at this time. Minimum repairs were made and finally the outer third fell into the ocean.

Chapter 3 – Commercial Fishing

In 1925, interest in Shelter Cove was revived as a commercial fish receiving and processing port when the San Francisco International Fish Company, the Paladini Fish Company, and the Western Fish Company, joined to form the Northern California Fisheries and leased the Shelter Cove property from Bill Bowden, the owner at this time.

In 1926, during the fishing activities a spacious yacht, the Nemaha, drifted ashore at Shelter Cove. It was not seriously damaged, and plans were made to pull it off the beach. The people on board came ashore and stayed at the hotel. A Filipino cook went back to the yacht for personal belongings and in the meantime, a gas leak permeated the galley and pilot house. The Filipino lit a match and the gas exploded sending him sailing through the air and into the water. The yacht caught fire and was completely burned but the cook was rescued.

In 1926, 1927, and 1928, many tons of salmon were unloaded on the pier and the original warehouse was used as a fish house. A diesel-powered ice plant was installed, and the fish were gutted, iced, and shipped to San Francisco by drag boat. In 1928, the San Francisco International Fish Company became the sole owner of the property.

An attempt, at this time, to fish for abalone was of short duration. Laws were passed prohibiting the taking of abalone, commercially, north of San Francisco.

In the winter during prohibition, when alcoholic beverages were illegal, tales were told about Mafia connections in Shelter Cove. It was said that cases of liquors were unloaded in the darkness on the pier and transported inland by truck. Mobsters, armed with machine guns, covered the operation and there was no interference by the natives.

The Nemaha

Abalone crew, 1928

In 1930, the author arrived at Shelter Cove from San Francisco on a drag boat owned by the San Francisco International Fish Co. Pietro Machi, his father, was a stockholder in the company.

The manager was Sal Russo and the hotel building was used as living quarters for the crew. Other workers included the caretaker, Slim Knapp, Salvatore Pizzimenti, the salmon splitter, Vince Argento, Tony Davi, the fastest salmon gutter on the coast,Charley Farnsworth, an early wagon driver, and Bradley Radcliffe, his son-in-law. Charley and Bradley helped maintain the pier.

On August 17, 1931, Charles East, operator of the Shelter Cove Ranch was riding his horse down the beach looking for some of his sheep. There was a dense fog at this time and as he approached Dead Man’s Gulch, he saw a commercial fishing boat stranded on the beach. A dead man was crouched in the pilot house. Authorities were notified and the County Coroner was summoned.

The dead man’s name was Anderson. He had gone out to the whistle buoy to set a gill net for herring and had suffered a fatal heart attack. After drifting in many directions, his boat came to rest at Dead Man’s Gulch.

On the left, Nels Benson, the blacksmith. On the right Bill and Eliza- beth Bowden, owners of the Shelter Cove Wharf and Warehouse property. Bill leased to the Northern California Fisheries in 1925.

Anderson was involved with the Department of Fish and Game a f<•w years previous to this incident. He had shot and killed a game warden that was attempting to board his boat at sea. He delivered the dead man to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and created quite a stir in the city at that time.

The pier at this time was used for unloading salmon from the small boats and the warehouse for processing. The fish continued to be shipped by drag boat to San Francisco.

The author was assigned the job of unloading salmon at the end of the dock and to push a box loaded with the fish into the fish house, a distance of 600 ft. where they would be cleaned and iced. Sixty or seventy boats were sometimes loaded, and the work would continue until ten or eleven p.m.

Besides the hotel, there was the grocery store located in the building that once was a trading post and is now the fish market. An apartment used by the caretaker, Slim Knapp, was also in this structure. A spacious barn, a large building called the garage, a blacksmith shop, a cookshack, and two large tan bark sheds, were scattered around the area. There were five head of yearling calves, two cows that were milked twice daily, some chickens, and a hay field.

Mornings were spent in preparing the large salmon for mild curing. Salvatore Pizzimenti, the salmon splitter, would slice the fish and take the backbone out. After washing the salmon carefully, it was then dipped in brine and salted in barrels.

The largest daily catch for the day was about 48,000 lbs. Three other barges handled approximately as much as the International did. The total amount of salmon for that day was about 140,000 lbs.

Everyone looked forward to Saturday nights with pleasure. Sal Russo would crank up the phone and call the neighbors announcing a dance. Sandwiches, cakes, coffee, and ice cream were served, and the dancing continued until 2:00 a.m. The orchestra consisted of a music teacher, “Mac” MacArthur on the violin, Sal Russo strumming the guitar, Salvatore Pizzimenti playing the mandolin, and Tony on the accordion. “Over the Waves”, Italian waltzes, and marches were played.

Whenever Salvatore Pizzimenti danced, everyone would move to one side, and he would have the right of way. He weighed 247lbs. and would always choose a partner that weighed almost as much as he did.

Shelter Cove was very fortunate to have telephone service in 1930. The central office was in Garberville and a wire was tacked mostly to trees between the main office and the cove. Each house had a certain number of short and long rings, and the bells rang simultaneously in everyone’s home. There was no such thing as a private line and everyone listened to conversations. As a result, it was necessary to limit personal affairs.

Shelter Cove crew, 1930. Author is third from left, standing.

Dance Band, 1930

The call for Shelter Cove was two long rings and every morning Sal Russo, the manager, would speak to the home office in San Francisco. He had no fear of his business being circulated around the area. No one could understand him as he spoke Italian, much to the frustration of his listeners.

The crew enjoyed a variety of pastimes. When the weather was bad for fishing and there was no tan bark to grind, they roamed the Shelter Cove Ranch on horseback. Charlie and Dorothy East, operators of the ranch, would let the boys use their horses. Dorothy East was the daughter of William Notley, owner of the ranch.

Almost every evening there was a rodeo. A yearling bull was put in the corral and the young men would try to ride him. Quite a crowd would enjoy the action.

The International #3, a drag boat, came to Shelter Cove from San Francisco once a week bringing groceries, meat, fruit, and usually a barrel of wine. This was always a happy event. The men would all go down to the dock to meet and unload the boat. There were very few trips to town as the road was narrow, mountainous, and dusty.

After returning home to San Francisco for the winter, the author came back to Shelter Cove in 1931. Some of the other stockholders in the San Francisco International Fish Company sent their sons to help with the fish. These boys were all about the same age and needless to say, they have never forgotten to this day the fun and pranks that were experienced.

Johnny Busalachi, the Italian cook, was a timid fellow and he had a great fear of livestock. He spoke no English. The kitchen was set up in one end of the hotel and in order to get supplies he had to go to the grocery store that was located about two hundred feet from the kitchen. If, by chance, a cow or a yearling bull was standing in the vicinity, he would not venture out into the field. One day, as Johnny ran to the store for supplies, a yearling bull was cornered and quietly brought before the hotel. Several pushes put him on the porch, one good shove placed him in the dining room, and another in the kitchen. The door was closed, and the mischievous boys waited for Johnny to come back from the store. Needless to say, Frank Balestrieri, the manager, had much to say about juvenile behavior that night.

The hotel was a one story, ranch style building. The kitchen was on the south end and the dining room was expansive. A porch adjoined the kitchen with a concrete sink available for washing food. About eight partitions led off the dining area and all the adult crew slept in separate rooms. The young boys had their sleeping bags on the floor in an old shack halfway between the hotel and the grocery store.

At this time tan bark again started to play an important role in the fishing industry. Fish nets were put in a vat and boiled in a tannic acid solution which helped to prolong the use of the net. Without the acid, the nets would rot in a short time. The sardine industry was at its peak and there were hundreds of purse seiners fishing the California coast with costly nets.

Northwest weather was dreaded by the crew. When the winds blew and the boats were unable to fish, the men were put to work in the tan bark.

Many people would probably wonder what significance humor- ous stories would have in relation to history. How important are seemingly simple tales to the historian? Much history has been forgotten that was related to everyday living.

The early pioneers had an exceptionally fine sense of humor and during their lifetime enjoyed many pranks that were part of their daily life. Most of these incidents are gone and have never been recorded. A rich heritage has been completely lost.

The Shelter Cove Hotel

As an example of such an incident, the following tale was told by Charlie Fransworth, an early wagon driver.

“John Ray’s turn was the name given to a sharp turn halfway between the Mattole River Bridge and the first summit. A tan bark park was located nearby, and one day, John Ray, who had a cranky disposition, was driving a wagon up the road. As he approached the turn he was stopped by a group of tan bark peelers and an argument ensued. A heated discussion led to a free-for-all. During the melee, John Ray lost his pants, and they were hung in a tree. This switch- back or sharp turn was dedicated to him. Very few people would think that this event would have any historical significance but this particular turn in the road carried the name of John Ray for many years.

Some other humorous incidents took place in 1931.

One day, one of the boys decided to sleep outdoors under the cypress trees. He found an old net in the tanbark sheds that was used for loading supplies on the steam schooners. It was stretched between two trees and an old mattress was placed on it. His blanket was covered with canvas to protect him from dampness during foggy nights. When the moon was full, the cows would lie close to him hammock and he enjoyed the scene that was presented. On this particular morning, he was working at the dock, processing fish. Coming up to the flat on an errand and passing next to his hammock, he discovered it lying on the ground completely dis- mantled. Standing a few feet from the disaster was a yearling bull. The expression on his face seemed to say, “I did it, how do you like that!”

Nine boys slept on the floor in this old shack

The boy could not contain his anger and chased the bull across the field waving a stick. The hammock was then re-arranged. That evening, on returning to the flat, and to his consternation, the hammock was again dismantled and to his horror it was covered with manure. A few feet away stood the bull with his ears cocked forward, a silly look on his face and an expression that seemed to say, “Would you like to try it again?”

Another incident took place while Salvatore Pizzimenti was busy down on the pier. Some of the boys entered his room and gathered his shavings supplies together. Flour was substituted for powder, water for shaving lotion, and soap was removed from a mug and lard was put in its place.

The next day Salvatore arose early and went out to the porch with his shaving equipment. Everyone had been alerted as to what was going to happen and a group of onlookers were hiding in the kitchen.

Salvatore wet his shaving brush under the faucet, dipped it in the shaving mug and gently smeared the contents on his face. He picked up his razor and applied it to his chin. Much to his surprise the razor skidded and did not remove any whiskers. In Italian he muttered, “What the hell is the matter with this razor?”

He applied the razor again with the same result. By this time, he became suspicious and after investigating the mug, began to swear vehemently in Italian. Although he had a mild disposition, he suddenly became enraged and looked around for someone he could grab. It took some time to quiet Salvatore. Strange as it did seem, there were no boys in the area at this time.

One afternoon, as the men were sitting on a log discussing the day’s work, they happened to look up the hill and to their amazement a strange truck was coining toward them. As it came closer, it appeared to be a Model T Ford. It traveled past the group and came to rest on the flat before the grocery store. A woman and two dogs stepped out and in a few moments the lady proceeded to pitch a tent.

Sal Russo, the manager, sauntered out to talk to her and after a brief conversation discovered that she had a load of whiskey to sell to the fishermen. This incident happened during prohibition days when it was illegal to possess liquors. He convinced the woman that she should find a more secluded area to sell her wares. She packed her tent and dogs back into the truck and drove to the eucalyptus grove. Her tent was erected again, and the whiskey was buried around it. The dogs kept a watchful eye on the burial site and a few fishermen came to visit every evening.

Sal Russo was a little disturbed but reluctantly permitted the selling of the whiskey. After the lady and dogs moved on, there were many prospectors in the vicinity digging around the eucalyptus grove.

A serious incident involved the loss of a life on another turn in the road. During construction, the first sharp turn north of Bear Creek was giving the early builders of the road a difficult time. Dynamite had to be used to remove a rocky area. The man handling the powder miscalculated and was killed. His name was Tom Pollock. Many cars pass this turn today not knowing that a tragedy took place on this spot.

There were two trucks available for use in Shelter Cove. Both of them had solid rubber tires. One was a Demartini and the other a Kleiber. They were used to haul tan bark from Ettersburg and for the handling of freight around Shelter Cove. The author was assigned the job of helping the driver load the truck when hauling bark. On this job, Charlie Farnsworth, a native of Humboldt County, a skilled woodsman, and an expert hunter, was the truck driver. He could also handle a broad axe skillfully. He was about 62 years of age and had a large family. Many happy days were spent with Charlie. He related many stories and incidents pertaining to the early history of Shelter Cove.

In 1936, due to increased activity by commercial fishing boats anchoring in the cove, the Coast Guard decided to place a bell on the point at Punta Delgada. A tower was erected, and a gasoline engine pulled heavy metal discs to the top. The weight of the discs rang the bell for eight hours when it was foggy.

Directly under the tower there were many rocks, and the Coast Guard became aware that on foggy days, fishing boats would venture too close to the sound of the bell and the rocky area. It was discontinued and a bell buoy was placed in a southeasterly direction about one mile offshore. It became silent and remained as a historical monument until 1976. It was cast in 1883. This bell can now be seen as a memorial on the College of the Redwoods Campus.

The end of the season was rather sad in some respects. the saddest part was when each fishing boat would blow three whistles, meaning “Goodbye, Good luck, and God bless you,” as it completed its season and left for home.

At the end of the summer, in 1931, the San Francisco International Fish Company announced that maintenance of the pier had become too costly and that fishing activities would have to be curtailed.

This announcement brought a spectre of doom over Shelter Cove. Without any maintenance on the pier, the ocean prepared itself for the final onslaught and after the winter of 1932, many pilings were missing, and it was not safe to walk on the deck.

The “Demartini”

The Coast Guard bell in Shelter Cove

By 1937, the dock was cut in several places. For a few years several piling stubbornly resisted the ocean’s efforts to destroy them and finally they succumbed, fell into the ocean, and floated on the beach totake their place with the driftwood, never to be recognized as piling that were attached to the dock.

With the Indians gone, the early pioneers, dead or scattered around the county, and the pier demolished, Shelter Cove became a deserted area. Buildings were empty and an occasional abalone or rock fisherman would pay a visit. Sometimes vacationing groups would use the buildings for a weekend.

At this time the area became known as “The Lost Coast”.

Going home to San Francisco

A few pilings stubbornly resist the ocean

Chapter 4 – Machi Bros.

When war was declared in 1941, Shelter Cove played an active part in coastal defense. The United States Coast Guard rented the property from John Alioto, the owner at that time, and established a base for a beach patrol.

The old barn was remodeled for horses. A kennel was constructed, and dogs were kept active on the beach. The old hotel became a barracks, and the present tackle shop was the mess hall.

After the war was over, Machi Brothers, Marlo, Babe, and Tony were unemployed. They had spent their summers in Shelter Cove in 1930, and 1931, and were well acquainted with the area.

During the war, Mario served with the 31st Infantry in the Philippines, Babe with the Coast Guard, and Tony with the 752nd M.P. Battalion. John Alioto, the attorney for the San Francisco International Fish Company, had acquired the Shelter Cove Wharf and Warehouse property from the bankruptcy court when the firm became bankrupt. He believed that someday it would be a state park, and he wanted to hold it as an investment for the future. He did not want to sell but gave a lease to Machi Brothers, excluding the waterfront. John died of a lingering illness and his wife sold all the property to the three men. Tom Lazio, of the Lazio Fish Company in Eureka, California was of great help in obtaining the parcel of land for them.

In 1946, Machi Brothers’ assets included a second-hand surplus jeep, an old battered open trailer, a set of carpenter and mechanic tools, a few personal belongings, very little cash, and a deed to the property.

Mario, Babe, Tony

They left San Francisco and after reaching Garberville, traversed the narrow dirt road leading to the cove.

As the reader is already aware, the Shelter Cove area was known as the “Lost Coast”, and it could truly be said that it was a lost coast when they arrived. There was no caretaker or any sign of inhabitants. The buildings were still intact, and they moved into the family dwelling that is now the restaurant.

The warehouse became a mess hall.

In their discussions about the future of the cove, the three men tried to take into consideration the natural assets that were pro- vided. There was no thought of attempting to rebuild a dock because they understood that there was no industry that would support such a venture. It was also impossible to borrow money from the bank for any recreational enterprise. The bankers would usually point out that the wagon road leading into the area was a serious hindrance to any future development.

In 1947, an opportunity to buy ten rubber life rafts presented itself and Machi Brothers were in the boat rental business. Jimmy Ratchford, a good friend and local sportsman, and Bill McClure, came tothe cove one day tofish. They bought some salted anchovies for bait and rented one of the rafts. Two hours later they returned with four salmon. Jimmy and Bill were probably two of the first fishermen to catch salmon in the cove and they are credited with helping to establish the sport fishing.

Jimmy Ratchford

In a short time, it was then decided that if people were to visit Shelter Cove, there should be some sort of eating facility. Terry Tarantino, a brother-in-law, offered to operate a restaurant. He and his wife, Anna, sister to Machi Brothers, helped to pioneer the area for many years.

Some incidents in the boat rental business should be recorded. It must be remembered that at first the launching area had no protec- tion from the waves. For the experienced boatman there weren’t too many problems but for one who was not familiar with the handling of a boat off a beach, there could be serious accidents.

Almost everyone that rented a boat usually did not admit inexperience and as a result many accidents did happen. Fortunately, they were exasperating but not too serious.

An experienced boatman would back his boat to the water’s edge. He would then put all equipment in place with the bow facing towards the water. Waiting for a lull in the wave action, the boat would be pushed off with the oars in place and the boatman would row as rapidly as possible out of range of the breaking waves before starting his motor. It was very important to make sure the boat did not turn sideways. If it did, disaster would strike. The waves would tip the boat over and passengers and equipment would be dumped into the water.

A busy day

Coming back to shore required a different set of rules. The boat- man had to be well coordinated to make it back safely. First, he had to come into the edge of the breaking waves. The motor was then turned off, raised up, and the oars were put in place. The boat was reversed with the bow facing into the waves and the oarsman proceeded to back towards the beach. The most important move was to make sure that the bow was always facing the waves.

There was always a crowd watching the show on the bluff over- looking the launching site. A “Mack Sennett’ comedy in the old days could not have put on better entertainment. Foolhardy mistakes resulted in boats overturning, fishermen being thrown into the ocean sometimes in grotesque positions, equipment flying through the air and even the day’s catch returning to its source.

Although launching and landing procedures were very important, handling a boat in the open ocean was also paramount. At first, a compass was absolutely necessary for safety. Later radios were used but many fishermen left the beach without this equipment and regretted their lack of caution.

The reader must understand that the learning process involved in handling a boat in the surf did not come easy. Many of the local fishermen did their fishing on the Eel River and did not have any experience in the ocean. Their escapades on the beach were numerous and hundreds of stories were told about launching and landing experiences.

Vehicles were also a problem. If left in the water too long, they would sink into the sand and become stuck.

An experienced boatman on the ocean would always become aware of any change in the weather. He would keep his eye on the sky and the horizon, he would look for any change in wind condi- tions, and he would observe the first sign of fog in the distance.

The inexperienced boatman would be enjoying his outing, concentrating entirely on his fishing oblivious to atmospheric conditions.

Fishermen were cautioned to keep off the beaches when lost. Landing on an unfamiliar area was considered very risky. Sub- merged rocks and waves breaking close to the shoreline were dangerous obstacles to overcome and there was no one to give a helping hand if a boat overturned. It was much safer to stay in the open ocean rather than to risk a landing of this type.

Inexperienced boatmen kept Machi Brothers busy over the years. Trying to find lost fishermen in the fog is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

When Machi Brothers arrived in Shelter Cove, they did not own an outboard motor. Oars were used to move around the fishing areas. It was a common occurrence to row out tothe bell and whistle buoys and it was not considered unusual to fish these areas without the use of a motor.

A trolley line tied to a rock a short distance from shore helped supply the evening meal. Some hooks were baited and left dangling in the water. In the evening, the line would be brought in and there would usually be a few perch, sea trout, or a cabezone to eat.

Pietro Machi, father to Tony, Mario, and Babe, was the official cook during the summer. His cioppinos were a gourmet’s delight. Pietro was well known as “John” in San Francisco, but in Shelter Cove everyone referred to him as “Pop”.

Pop was a slightly built figure of a man. He had a great love for the sea and fishing. In a boat, he had an uncanny sixth sense that would always lead him to areas where the fish were biting. His early fishing experiences were with a handline. He eventually switched to a pole. In one season he caught 182 salmon and almost always caught more fish than anyone. He was the constant envy of his friends and in great demand as a fishing partner.

Pop was born in St. Elia, a small community near Palermo, Sicily. He spent his boyhood on the Mediterranean Sea and as a boy fished with his father. His father’s name was Gaetano and as he was the first man to leave his community for America, he was called “Gaetano-Americano”. Almost the whole community followed him to the United States.

Pop came to San Francisco in 1904 and then returned to Italy to serve in the Italian Navy for three years. He then came back to the United States and helped form the San Francisco International Fish Co. He became a U.S. citizen in 1908. The fish company prospered for many years but became bankrupt during the depression.

His interest in Shelter Cove started in 1925, when the San Fran- cisco International, the Paladini Fish Company, and the Western Fish Company formed the Northern California Fisheries and bought the Shelter Cove property.

Pop was still active on the ocean when he passed away in October of 1969 at the age of 93.

“Pop” Machi

The day’s catch. “Pop” is fourth from left.

In 1947, the old hotel building was remodeled with materials from a scrap pile. Machi Bros. now had a room rental business.

In 1948, the oldest brother Anthony, married Mary Demartini, a native of San Francisco. Four children, Anthony, Mary Ann, Michael, and Teresa were born to the couple.

The Coast Guard had built an elaborate building for dogs dur ing the war and both Anthony and Thomas were excellent carpenters and mechanics. They remodeled the kennel and constructed an apartment for Tony’s increasing family. Mary succumbed from cancer in October 1959. He was remarried to Nora Riordan, also a native of San Francisco.

After World War II, the author had completed a teaching course at San Francisco State College. He accepted a position at White- thorn and after two years, moved to Miranda Elementary School. His summers were spent in Shelter Cove, and he retired after twenty-three years of service.

Much progress was made in 1948. Harold Lewis, a resident of Whitethorn, offered to build an airstrip and a 1600 ft. airfield was constructed. The first plane succeeded in landing safely. Soon a few sportsmen were coming in by plane.

At this time the road to the beach had eroded and ropes were being used to gain access. Everett Littlefield, a logger, using a D8 tractor, dug the present road to the beach down an impossible cliff. This construction gave access to vehicles on the beach for the first time in the history of Shelter Cove. It also permitted the launching of boats. The opening of the road was responsible for the start of the growth of Shelter Cove as a sport fishing area.

Even though the road from Garberville was hazardous, traffic commenced to increase at a steady rate.

In 1952, the first subdivision, 15 lots, was established on Machi Brothers property. The first summer home was constructed by Tony and Thomas and sold to George and Lucille Clinkscales. Lucille was a daughter of Mrs. Bill Bowden, a former owner of the Shelter Cove Wharf and Warehouse Company property. The cottage was designed by Robert Usher.

Robert Usher spent many years in Hollywood as a set designer for Paramount Studios. He and a sculptor, Bruno Groth, purchased a parcel of land in Whitethorn, a small community ten miles east of Shelter Cove. They proceeded to fall trees and to cut lumber for their buildings. They built their own home, a library, a shop, and a studio. The structures were unique and rustic in design. They also had a few head of cattle, sheep, ducks, and chickens. Most of the livestock wore bells around their necks and all day and during the night, there could be heard a melodious tinkling in the wilderness. When Bruno was married, Bob left his property to the Catholic Church and then joined a religious order. The estate is now the Redwood Monastery, a home for the Cistercian Nuns.

In 1952, Thomas married Marilyn Swithenbank, a granddaughter of Mrs. Elizabeth Bowden, the wife of the owner of the Shelter Cove Wharf and Warehouse Company in the early 1900’s. They refurnished one end of the hotel and moved in. Three children were born to Thomas and Marilyn. Sara, Betty, and Thomas. In 1958, during a violent storm fire destroyed the building completely and it became a memory in the history of Shelter Cove.

In 1954, Val Valentine, a retired policeman offered to rent boats. He purchased ten skiffs and after one year’s operation they were sold to Machi Brothers. The renting was an added facility that helped the income, and it was pursued for many years.

In 1954, Bill and Ethel Pass purchased two lots from Machi Brothers and constructed a summer home. Ethel was related to William Notley, former pioneer and owner of the Shelter Cove Ranch.

In the same year, an attempt was made to raft logs to Eureka. Shelter Cove was the scene of a full-scale logging operation. The flat was covered with two million feet of logs ready for rafting. Not enough thought was given to the wave action on the beach and many difficulties were encountered. Logs were lost rounding Punta Gorda, one of the roughest areas on the Pacific Coast. The men involved had to give up the operation and the remaining logs were sold to Mal Coombs, a mill operator, and transported over the wagon road by truck.

In 1962, Mario met Shirley at the Southern Humboldt Unified School District Office where she was in charge of the bookkeeping department. They were married in August 1963. Mario and Shir- ley now have two girls, Antonette, and Gina Maria.

Also, July 6, 1962, a Skyhawk Navy plane, on a routine flight up the coast, broke an oil line and made a forced landing on the flat. Thirty Navy men were rushed to the scene and because of a delay for parts, were unable to repair the aircraft until the 26th.

While waiting, they hunted, fished and hiked over the hills and enjoyed themselves immensely. The takeoff was an exciting event as it was not absolutely certain whether there was a large enough area for the plane to become airborne. The pilot was very skillful and calmly handled the controls. The plane rose off the ground with inches to spare amid cheers from a large crowd in attendance.

Machi Brothers had received a modest sum of money for the use of their land during the logging operation. It was decided that an investment on the highway would be made where most of the population existed. It was believed that the wagon road coming into the cove was still a hindrance to development.

A real estate office building was remodeled in Redway on High- way U.S. 101. It was named Shelter Cove Sea Food Grotto. Tony was outfitted with a small commercial boat and began supplying the restaurant with fish. The business during the summer months could not sustain the operation in the winter. It was sold to Frank and Mary McKee in 1963.

A big halibut in 1962

In the 1880’s when the pioneers struggled to construct a pier and to land freight and passengers in Shelter Cove, George Morgan and French Frank were considered outstanding men. Morgan for his construction abilities and Frank for his seamanship. These men are described in the chapter, “Early Pioneers”.

Tony Machi

In modern times, one man stands out as an exceptional individual. Anthony “Tony” Machi came to Shelter Cove for the first time in 1930. He was employed by the San Francisco International Fish Company at the age of nineteen. He was responsible for the salt- water pumps, the tan bark engine, and the ice plant. He also spent two years as an engineer on a drag boat. His knowledge of the sea was extensive.

After the war, Machi Brothers were struggling to develop an income. Boats were rented, a small restaurant was set up, and tackle was sold to sportsmen.

Renting boats presented many problems. Inexperienced fisher- men would get lost in the fog, motors would fail to run in the open ocean, and occasional landings on beaches would leave fishermen stranded.

Tony was always the first man to rush to the aid of any boat in trouble. He did not hesitate to venture out in the ocean during dense fogs or rough water. He was exceptionally skillful when passing through breakers. In the twenty years that Machi Brothers rented boats, mostly under Tony’s supervision, not one person was lost.

His most outstanding rescue occurred on the evening of July 25, 1957. Just before dark, a call was received from the Coast Guard asking for assistance. A yacht was foundering ten miles out from Shelter Cove.

Tony and Dick Marr, a good friend, hopped into a 14 ft. skiff, started the outboard motor and rushed out to the Delta Pride, a salmon troller, skippered by Robert Cox. The ocean was very rough and forty mile an hour winds were blowing. The skiff was hauled on board the Delta Pride and in forty minutes the Flamingo was sighted. The heavy seas prevented the fishing vessel from getting too close to the yacht. Tony and Dick Marr decided to attempt the rescue. One person at a time was placed in the skiff and Tony ferried them to the fishing boat. The rescue was successful, and Tony and Dick Marr received the Press Democrat Medal for heroism.

Tony believed in saving any part of an engine that he could find. As a result, he had replacements for outboard motors, winches, electrical and plumbing fixtures, reels, and compasses. Many peo- ple came to him for repairs to fishing equipment. He had all the tools necessary to repair anything mechanical and he was always ready to lend a helping hand.

Tony died of cancer July 24, 1983, at the age of seventy-one.

In July of 1959, Shelter Cove was being considered as a harbor of refuge and through the efforts and hard work by the Garberville Chamber of Commerce, a bill was introduced in the state assembly for a jetty costing 460,000 dollars. It passed the legislature and Governor Brown, Sr. signed the bill authorizing construction.

Much to everyone’s disappointment, the county supervisors balked and refused to accept the bill as they thought it could not be paid back in twenty years. This matter was considered a serious mistake as the payment of the money could have been extended indefinitely. The jetty would have been a great asset to the economy of the county.

Shelter Cove was in need of a trailer park, motel units, and a grocery store. Capital was lacking and it was difficult to convince anyone that it had a future. It was almost impossible to attempt to borrow money when collateral was lacking, and income was low. Land ownership was not sufficient to satisfy bankers.

Machi Brothers were having internal problems at this time. At the end of each year revenues were not sufficient to support the three brothers and their families. It was very discouraging to work hard all summer and find very little compensation when the season was over. There was much discontent.

An event suddenly transpired that was to change dramatically the course that Shelter Cove was pursuing.

Chapter 5 – Land Speculation

In 1962, Keith Etter, owner of the Shelter Cove Ranch, sold his land to Robert C. Monroe and associates. It consisted of approximately 5,000 acres, a ten-room house, barns, and other buildings. One year later it was again sold to a group of land developers based in Los Angeles.

On December 11, 1964, the following article appeared in the

Humboldt Times, Eureka:
“Fifty Million Resort Development is Being Planned at Shelter Cove. 4200 Home Sites, Golf Course, Village in Plans of San Francisco Company.”

Presentation of a sweeping 2,500 acres fifty million Shelter Cove proposed development plan was made here yesterday to the Board of Supervisors, County Engineer Charles Shaller and Planning Director Harvey Higgins.

“Designed to include 4,200 home sites, the area is also to include a village with commercial facilities, a 3,300-foot airstrip (which would be an improvement of the present county airport there) and a golf course built around the air field,” said George Kellner, president of Shelter Cove Development of San Francisco. Reacting to the scheme, Shaller last night said, “This is being planned and engineered by some of the finest people in the business.”

“Of course, it is a pretty sweeping project which makes it outside our usual realm of experience and thus a little hard to judge. I believe that the county’s position will be that it will have to stand or fall on its own merits and that we should refrain from any major expenditures in the area until we see how it is going to go.”

Shaller explained that the most expensive part of the project from the county’s standpoint would be development of access to the site.

“Development there,” said Kellner, “should begin early next year with the start of road and street preparation, storm drainage, sewerage systems, and water and power facilities.”

Shaller noted that a recreation improvement district is to be formed and that actually this, not the development company, would be responsible for construction of all these proposed facilities.

Jack Bevash, nationally known architect, from Beverly Hills, who is planning the site for the development company, said that only five percent of the extremely scenic area will be covered by buildings.

“Every effort has been made to retain the land in its natural and primitive character,” he said of the area, which is surrounded by the 34,000 acre, publicly owned wildlife area of King Range, and four- and one-half miles of scenic shoreline that contain what is reputedly the only black sand beach in the Continental United States. “Homesites will range from 5,000 to 12,00 square feet,” Bevash said.

View locations are to be made as plentiful as possible by the provision of double frontage lots, he emphasized.

Land plans allocations provide 1500 acres for parks, preserve and open space, 900 acres for single family detached housing, 21 acres for multi-unit housing, 20 acres for multiple commercial areas, 55 acres for air strip and golf course and over one- and one-half miles of public right of way on the bluffs overlooking the ocean.

Some 40 miles of roads are to be built on the project site, accord- ing to McIntire and Quiros of Los Angeles who are master engi- neers on the project. “Plans also call for a water supply system which will utilize Telegraph Creek and Dead Man’s Gulch, both of which flow through the site, should population growth require it,” McIntire said.

His firm which has designed and engineered over 100,000 home sites, is to serve as supervising engineers, with the bulk of field work being performed by local firms, he explained.

Sewerage in the area, McIntire noted, is to be provided by a regulation plant operated system serving the 2,400-lower level homesites, while owners of large and upper level lots will use septic tanks and leach lines.

All municipal services will be provided by the Resort Improvement District. Under provisions of the district, these could include such things as eventual police and fire protection, in addition to the initial sewage, water, streets, roads, and drainage systems. Bevash stressed that the area “will leave a major portion of the natural landscape untouched except for providing easements to open spaces for hiking and camping and to the surrounding 34,000

acres wildlife area.”
At this point,the author has taken the liberty of interjecting a few

comments on the development of the Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District.

There is no question that the developers planned the subdivision carefully. The green areas set aside for wildlife have sustained the animal population. The homes are adequately zoned and water and sewer facilities are sufficient. Evaluating the project after twenty years, much credit is due Jack Bevash , the architect , for his planning skills and the engineers, McIntire and Quiros, for their road construction, sewer, and water systems. To date, one hundred and five homes have been constructed and there has been little damage to roads. The water and sewer systems have served the district well. Wildlife is flourishing and the animals have a refuge in the green areas.

The news article in the Humboldt Times continues:

Land plans allocations provide 1500 acres for parks, preserve and open space, 900 acres for single family detached housing, 21 acres for multi-unit housing, 20 acres for multiple commercial areas, 55 acres for air strip and golf course and over one- and one-half miles of public right of way on the bluffs overlooking the ocean.

Some 40 miles of roads are to be built on the project site, accord- ing to McIntire and Quiros of Los Angeles who are master engi- neers on the project. “Plans also call for a water supply system which will utilize Telegraph Creek and Dead Man’s Gulch, both of which flow through the site, should population growth require it,” McIntire said.

His firm which has designed and engineered over 100,000 home sites, is to serve as supervising engineers, with the bulk of field work being performed by local firms, he explained.

Sewerage in the area, McIntire noted, is to be provided by a regulation plant operated system serving the 2,400 lower-level home sites, while owners of large and upper level lots will use septic tanks and leach lines.

All municipal services will be provided by the Resort Improve- ment District. Under provisions of the district, these could include such things as eventual police and fire protection, in addition to the initial sewage, water, streets, roads and drainage systems.

Bevash stressed that the area “will leave a major portion of the natural landscape untouched except for providing easements to open spaces for hiking and camping and to the surrounding 34,000-acre wildlife area.”

“Also,”he said,”natural drainage courses will be dammed up for water recreational use and five public park sites will be located along the edges of the bluffs and beaches overlooking the ocean.”

Sha11er explained that once roads and storm drains are insta11ed, the county would take over their maintenance. Also, while Shelter Cove Development Company will improve the airport, its maintenance will remain a county responsibility.

“But the main problem for us,” he said, “will be the road.” “If they get the development they expect, it simply couldn’t carry the load.” “Right now, it is paved from Redway to Thorn, which is about 15 miles. That part of it is pretty good two lane. But the rest is a less than two lane dirt track that was built 50 years ago for hauling tan bark.”
“Building 15 miles of good road, and possibly even having to make some improvements on the other 15 miles is going to be pretty expensive,” he concluded.

Project coordinator for Shelter Cove Development Company is Ralph Harris, who will headquarter in Eureka until construction starts. Harris, 32, formerly was general manager of the C.W. Moore Land and Cattle Co., Reno, Nevada. The news article ends.

Like the striking of a lightning bolt, Shelter Cove suddenly came to life. Men and heavy equipment started the construction of roads, homesites, and a paved airstrip 3300 ft. long. The restaurant on Machi Bros. property was utilized and temporary housing was insta11ed. The subdivision included 5,000 acres of the Shelter Cove Ranch. The three brothers owned the old Shelter Cove Wharf and Warehouse property consisting of 80 acres. They had fu11control of access to the beach in the cove. No serious attempt was made by the land company to purchase property or to co-operate at any length with them.

A real estate office was permitted on Machi’s property and pros- pective buyers were a11owed to come and go. This area played an important part in the sale of lots. Salesmen standing on the bluff overlooking the cove would point out a future jetty site.

The airstrip was the key to the sale of lots. DC-3’s were to be flown in from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose. Men and cars were ready to transport interested lot buyers around the subdivision. Lots were also being sold in Hawaii, Germany, and to memhers of the armed services.

The Shelter Cove Airstrip

Little was said about the condition of the road coming from the highway. It was being improved and paved but nothing could be done to eliminate the long steep grades. There were many sharp curves, and the road still followed the path of the early wagon trains.

Betty and Percy Knoblock and Albert Caesario completed the first homes in the subdivision. Knoblocks were the first permanent residents. Jim Dawson was one of the men put in charge of the sales programs in Shelter Cove. He was very conscientious and kept abreast of all political issues affecting Shelter Cove. He and his wife, Charleen, were also very active in social affairs. He died in 1979.

A DC-3

On the morning of June 27, a plane landed to return a group of salesmen to the Bay area. On that day there was a stiff northwest wind blowing and about forty commercial boats were anchored in the cove unable to fish in the rough water.

That afternoon, as the plane was warming its engines, the author was standing in front of the tackle shop watching the takeoff. The plane started slowly down the runway and its speed commenced to increase. Usually the planes required at least two-thirds of the strip for takeoff, but this plane passed the two thirds mark and still did not leave the ground. Suddenly it veered off the end of the runway and plunged into the ocean.

For a few moments the author was stunned. He then leaped in a pickup and started towards the scene of the crash but upon second thought sped back to the tackle shop and turned on his radio in an effort to alert the fishing fleet. There was no power. The plane had hit a power shack and had cut the electrical lines.

Doug Wallace, a good friend, came running past the building and turned towards the beach. The author joined him, and Doug broke into a locker that housed an outboard motor. John Figueredo, on a commercial boat, was alerted and he joined the rescue attempt.

Upon reaching the crash site, debris was scattered over the water and bodies could be seen floating on the surface. Tom Wallace, Doug’s nephew, was on a surfboard attempting to help. He had a survivor in tow and he was pulled into the boat. With Doug controlling the outboard motor in the rough sea, four bodies were retrieved from the water. A decision was made at this time to leave the area and return to the beach. There was more concern for getting the injured survivor to shore rather than collecting more dead bodies.

Tom was awarded the Carnegie Hero Foundation Medal for his heroic efforts with the surfboard.

Tony and Babe, in a 14 ft. skiff, hauled in four bodies. In the meantime, a Coast Guard cutter appeared but it was unable to come too close as many rocks were exposed, and the waves were breaking in this area. The cutter launched a rubber life raft.

John Figueredo, on the commercial fishing boat,Sea Valley,was standing by and received two bodies and one survivor. It is believed that the survivor was placed on his boat by an unknown swimming around the area in a wet suit.

There were twenty-four passengers on the plane. Seventeen perished and seven survived. The remaining bodies were recovered by divers in the next few days.

Pat Wilson, a Shelter Cove resident, boarded the plane just before takeoff and became a victim. Shelter Cove residents erected a memorial in her memory.

The following article was written by the Redwood Record in Garberville following the crash:

“Seventeen persons perished Sunday evening when a twin- engine DC-3 airliner with 24 persons aboard crashed into offshore rocks when it attempted to take off from Shelter Cove Airport.

Seven persons survived. The bodies of 11 victims have been recovered. Efforts to recover the bodies of the remaining six have been hampered by a rough surf.

According to eyewitness accounts the DC-3 never did get airborne as it attempted a takeoff to the north. After leaving the end of the runway, the plane dropped below the runway level, sheared the top off the sewage disposal plant, disappeared below a vertical bluff and crashed into offshore rocks, in a pounding surf.

Those who survived did so through their own efforts in making their way through the heavy surf to rocks where they were helped by rescuers and by men in small boats who risked their lives in the extremely rough water. Several others who survived the initial crash were seen clinging to the wreckage and were washed off by waves.

At least one made it in close enough to the rocks to grasp a thrown rope only to lose his grip and disappear when thrown against the rocks.

About 16 commercial fishing boats and Coast Guard cutters from Humboldt Bay and Fort Bragg converged on the area but could not get close enough to the wreckage due to high winds and heavy seas.

Tom Wallace, 21, Redway, was responsible for saving one of the survivors as he skillfully maneuvered his surfboard through the rough water. He kept one man afloat until he was picked up by Mario Machi, of Shelter Cove and Doug Wallace, of Garberville, who had gone out in a small boat. Tom lost his board and was also taken aboard the boat.

The trio then picked up another survivor and two bodies and headed for the cove. During the 20-minute trip back, Machi attempted to keep one of the men alive through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Ashore the man was put on a respirator but failed to respond.

Others who went out in small boats were Babe and Tony Machi, of Shelter Cove. They picked up two bodies.

As word of the disaster spread, rescuers and spectators gathered along the shore to throw ropes and life jackets to the survivors.

Assisting with the rescue operations were men from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, and Department of Fish and Game.

Ambulances from Garberville and Fortuna were rushed to the scene. Dr. Jerold Phelps and Dr. Jack Pearson, both of Garberville, rushed to the cove to treat survivors. Dr. Pearson was flown by William Stewart, Southern Humboldt Civil Defense Coordinator. Dr. Martin Hays, of Eureka was flown to the area.

Witnessing the takeoff and crash was William Pass, of Garberville, who had a home at Shelter Cove. He and his wife, Ethel, were on the deck of their home watching the planes take off. First, a Martin 404, which carried prospective Shelter Cove homesite buyers, and then the DC-3. Mrs. Pass said she watched as the DC-3 sped down the runway, but then went into the house. She heard her husband yell, “My God it crashed.” Pass said the plane never got off the ground.

Both planes were operated by Shelter Cove Sea Park Ltd., developer of the Shelter Cove subdivision.

Aboard the DC-3 were the pilot and co-pilot, stewardess, sales representatives for Shelter Cove Sea Park Ltd., and Patricia Wilson, of Shelter Cove, who at the last minute had hitched a ride to the bay area.

The flight of the DC-3 had originated at San Diego and had picked up passengers at San Jose.

Three of the survivors were brought to Southern Humboldt Community Hospital and four were flown to Eureka and St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Dave Zebo, County Aviation Dir ector , flew to the scene to investigate the crash.

Investigating the crash for the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Safety, are William S. Slater, Jr., and John Sahauda, of Oakland. They are checking the crash scene and inter- viewing survivors. Sahauda said they will not be able to get a very clear picture of what happened until they are able to examine the wreckage. So far, efforts to retrieve the wreckage have been unsuccessful due to rough water. Among those killed were the pilot Les Hall, 45, Seal Beach and co-pilot Merrill Bassler, 49, Seal Beach. Their bodies were recovered.

On August 9, 1972, this article appeared in the Times Standard, Eureka, California:


Washington- Inadequate flight preparation and planning on the part of the pilot who died in the plane which crashed at Shelter Cove on June 27, 1971, claiming 17 lives, was one of the “probable” causes of that tragedy.

This was a finding of the National Transportation Safety Board here, which also found “that gust locks were engaged when the DC-3 aircraft came to rest in Pacific waters” in the resort area. Official remarks noted in the report indicated the plane’s crew failed to remove rudder and elevator control locks. The recent report upheld the initial speculation of Dave Zebo, Humboldt County Aviation director, who said a few days following the fatal accident that he thought perhaps the chocks locking the tail elevators in place to keep them from flopping in the wind had not been removed.

On that late Sunday afternoon of the mishap, the twin engine craft had run down 3,000 ft. of runway before it tore into a sewer treatment plant building and smashed into rock about 50 yards, breaking up offshore.”

It was thought at this time that this event would retard and delay the development of the subdivision indefinitely.

Chapter 6 – Mosquito Fleet

A few months before the airplane crash, Machi Brothers borrowed enough money to buy five mobile motel units, each with two rooms. They were unique in design and were custom made. Ten motel rooms were now available. Following the motel purchase, more money was borrowed for the construction of a 60-unit campground, including a building with restrooms and showers.

The indebtedness created a great many problems for the three men. Even though there were more facilities, the debt was very high. It was still impossible to show enough profit to sustain the operation through the winter.

Finally, a division of the property took place. Babe and Marilyn chose the campground and in 1970theyconstructed a grocery store. They soon sold their interests to Frank and Bernice Rivera.

Tony was satisfied with property on the hill and a release from any debts. He sold some of his property to the Resort Improvement District and it is now the site of the present-day Community Center.

Mario was left with the waterfront which included a restaurant, the motel units, and a tackle shop. This operation became Mario’s Marina.

An attempt to build a small jetty close to shore, protecting the launching area was started. The author moved many rocks into position but was unable to complete the project at this time. Help was solicited from Humboldt County, but it was impossible to conclude its construction although the amount of rocks placed in position were of great help in launching and landing.

In the operation of the restaurant, a walk-in freezer , 12ft., was used to store frozen foods. In 1970, a small group of fishermen delivered 2,000 lbs. of salmon and they were placed in the freezer. Most of these men were using small skiffs to land their catches.

The jetty in 1975

Among the fishermen that made deliveries were Craig Breschi, Don Cameron, Otha Arp, Frank Lewis, Buster Wallace, Nat Bingham, A.W. Merritt, and Tim Abena.

This was the first attempt at landing salmon in Shelter Cove since 1931. The amount of salmon purchased a year later was over 6,000 lbs. At this time the fish receiving market was moved from the restaurant to the original warehouse and an ice machine was purchased. By 1977, fish purchases jumped to 100,000 lbs. and in 1979 over 200,000 lbs. were landed. Seventy dories were now fishing Shelter Cove waters daily during the season.

The fishermen involved in fishing this area had many obstacles to overcome. There was no pier for unloading purposes and they moored their boats in the cove and brought their catches ashore in a skiff. The salmon were then transferred to a pickup and delivered

to the fish market on the flat.
These small boats, from 16 ft. to 24 ft. were gradually outfitted

with sophisticated equipment. Radios, fathometers, hydraulic gurdys, and direction finders, were installed. Unlike the early days when the fishermen had only a compass and pulled his fish by hand, this modern man in a small boat was able to fish areas around Shelter Cove that were inaccessible to the old timers.

In 1975, a request for aid in completing the small jetty was approved by the Corps of Engineers and under the direction of Jack Alderson of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conserva- tion District, the project was formalized. There was much opposi- tion by the local surfers who used the area where the rocks were to be taken.

The following article was published in the Humboldt Times, October 6, 1979:


“The Shelter Cove Improvement project got its third and final endorsement from government agencies last week when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would permit the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District to pro- ceed with its proposed plans at the cove.

The Harbor District had sought transference of a permit, formerly issued to Shelter Cove landowner Mario Machi, from the Corps of Engineers for the removal of up to 570 rocks from Dead Man’s Reef for the enhancement of an existing breakwater at Shelter Cove.

The rock removal has been opposed by surfers who claim rock

removal at the reef could harm surfing conditions at the Cove, located some 25 miles west of Garberville. Surfing interests have filed a suit against the Harbor District and the Coastal Commission in San Francisco Superior Court.

The enhancement of the breakwater is one part of the cove project, which is also to include improved beach access roads, and picnic and sanitary facilities. According to reports, the Corps of Engineers found the proposed Harbor District project at Shelter

Cove would best serve the public interest at large, even if surfing may be adversely affected by rock removal at Dead Man’s Reef. The Corps announced their intent to grant a transference of permit last week in a decision document called the “findings of fact”.

Due tolocal interest in the Shelter Cove project and surfer opposition tb rock removal, the Corps of Engineers held a public meeting on the plan in Garberville on June 19.

The project had already received the approval of the California Coastal Commission last fall, and the improvement plan was endorsed by the State Lands Commission on July 17, when they issued the Harbor District a 25 year lease on the state lands.

An allocation to the Harbor District of $125,000 from the State Department of Navigation and Ocean Development is intended to fund the project.

The granting of public access by Mario’s Marina tothe beach for recreational purposes opened the door for the paving of the road and the completion of the jetty. All sport fishermen and pedestrians now had a right-of-way down the road to fish and beachcomb forever. It could be said that now every individual had the same privileges as the early Indians in using one of the finest beaches in Northern California.

Like the pioneers of old, the men of the “Mosquito Fleet” became expert salmon fishermen with little equipment and tough obstacles to overcome in the form of rough landing conditions. Their interests are varied and the following is a list of some of the occupations they follow when salmon season closes:

Civil Engineer, County Maintenance, Dry Well Contractor, Teacher, Refrigeration, Rocket Engineer, Fireman, Carpenter, Marine Biologist, Herring Fisherman, Football Coach, Plasterer, Logger, Planning Director, Handy Man, Horse Racing Owner, Computer Program Analyst, Nuclear Pipe Welder , Tunnel Construction, Former Jet Pilot, Computer Supervisor with the Air Force, Heavy Equipment Operator, Furnace Maintenance, Food Processing Operator, Roofer, New Business Ventures, Rancher, Contractor, and Aircraft Worker.

Some of these men are retired and others are employed during the winter months. They all have a great deal in common- a deep love for the sea and the challenge of commercial salmon fishing. There are very few men as dedicated as these members of the “Mosquito Fleet”.

Thomas Machi is one of these dedicated men. With his hands and the necessary tools, he planned and constructed his own dory. He labored for two years and with the determination of a perfectionist constructed one of the most seaworthy boats in the fleet.

Tom Machi and his dory “The Cypress”

On the flat during a storm.

The launching of this craft on the beach at Shelter Cove was an outstanding event and many people gathered on the cliff edge to celebrate the entry into the water.

With no Coast Guard facilities available in Shelter Cove, the “Mosquito Fleet” learned to rely on its members for assistance when in trouble and many serious accidents were avoided because of timely help from members of the fleet. Anchor space was limited in the Cove and occasionally a boat would break loose from its moorings. Many dories were rescued from drifting onto the beach by quick action. It was understood by every fisherman that at times of stress, all hands were needed, and personal sacrifices were in order.

In 1930, and 1931, the author remembers a fishing fleet of about two hundred boats sailing northward every morning to fish off of Black Sand Beach where there were no rocks, and the water was deep. These boats were not able to move in a southerly direction because of the fear of losing equipment in the rocky areas.

Today, the fisherman in Shelter Cove is capable of fishing south around the Tolo Bank where there are many rocky pinnacles and where the depth of the water varies tremendously. These rocks provide an excellent feeding ground for salmon.

If a storm arose during the summer, there was much activity on the beach. As in the old days, when the pier was still standing a southeasterly made the cove untenable. All hands were present, and a great deal of activity and cooperation was evident as the boats were brought ashore, put on trailers, and transported up to the flat.

“Mosquito Fleet” was the name given to the boats fishing in Shelter Cove. The author worked closely with these men providing bait, fuel, tackle, and marketing of fish. Some of these boats had unique names: Holey troller, Arkie,

Burgie 2, Bred Winner, Assault, Last Chance, Delirious, Glory Bee, McCloud, Oakie Drifter, Sea Chicken, Happy Hooker, Pipe Dream, Welfare, Super Canoe, Tin Can, Brandy, Do Be Good, Hobo, Reel Gusto, Madman, Handy Dandy, Papa Joe, Salty Dog, Wait and Sea, Renegade, We Too, Cypress, Iris, Red Goose, and Viceroy.

These boats delivered fish daily and the receiving of the catch at the fish house became a great attraction for tourists.

One night, Barney Dolan’s dory the Iris, broke loose from its mooring. It was missing the next morning and the Coast Guard was alerted. The boat was found thirty miles south of Shelter Cove on the beach. A group of men traveled to the area and salvaged the craft. It was repaired in Oregon and is fishing today.

Another incident, as an example of quick action in an emergency, must be related.

During the winter months, when crab season is open, commercial

boats place their crab pots close to the beach in the waters north and south of Shelter Cove. Sometimes these crab fishermen fail to remove their pots during salmon season and these traps become a dangerous menace to the salmon fisherman. The ropes attached to the pots can become entangled in a troller’s lines and cause extensive damage.

One morning, Don Cameron, skipper of the Holey Troller, was fishing in a southerly direction a few miles from the Cove. directly in his path was a submerged crab pot buoy and he was totally unaware of its presence. Suddenly, without warning, his lines became entangled and immediately his boat tipped to one side and water rushed into it. In seconds it started sinking. Don grabbed his radio, and his voice could be heard, “I’m going down- I’m going

down.” The message was heard on the CB radio in the tackle shop and immediately the fleet was alerted. His position was placed where he was last seen by one of the boats. In a matter of minutes,

Commercial fishing boats in Shelter Cove

Five or six boats converged on the site and found Don hanging onto a gas tank. His boat was floating upside down and he was pulled from the water. The vessel was towed to the beach and with the efforts of many men it was righted, placed on a trailer and towed up to the flat. After repairs were made, he was fishing in two weeks.

The small dories in the “Mosquito Fleet” had a distinct advantage over the large commercial boats operating out of Shelter Cove at the present time. With their knowledge of the rocky areas, they could fish where the larger boats were reluctant to drop their lines.

These men, on good days, could ear n from one hundred to as high as eight hundred dollars daily. Their expenses included from ten to twenty gallons of fuel and the bait and tackle necessary to complete a day’s fishing.

Besides the fleet of seventy or eighty dories, there would some- times be fifty or more large commercial boats laying at anchor in the cove.

Going back to 1973, during the summer months, a warm, balmy, breeze blows frequently from the interior towards the ocean and the temperature rises over eighty degrees. It is called a “Land Breeze”. This wind almost caused a catastrophe.

On the morning of Saturday, September 8, smoke hovered over a large area around the cove. A forest fire had erupted in the Mattole River basin. A group of careless campers were responsible, and the fire fighters were having a difficult time controlling the blaze. A shifting of the wind, coming from the east, sent the flames shooting down in a southerly and easterly direction towards the cove. The increasing hot winds fanned the flames and they engulfed Queen’s Peak, a short distance from the Resort Improvement District.

Just before sunset, fire was visible at the summit and in the unbelievable time of two hours, flames roared down the hill towards the beach and had reached the subdivision. Hot winds pushed the flames to a velocity of over sixty miles per hour.

In the meantime, a sheriff’s posse had ordered all vehicles and trailers out of the campground and over to the airstrip. An orderly procession was achieved and all hands then converged on the fires in an effort to save the homes.

A disaster in the subdivision was averted but the countryside was burned and scarred and would require many years to recover. The combination of the land breeze and the forest fire together was responsible for the damage.

Chapter 7 – Seaside Community

In its course of development, in modern times, fate may have chosen two paths for Shelter Cove to follow. It could have become a sheep ranch excluding the public or it may have been a state park remaining in its natural state. As a park, the public would have had the privilege of temporary visits that would include hiking, camping, and picnicking.

The Community Hall

When the Indians lived in the cove area, there was complet cooperation between the early inhabitants and the environment. There is no doubt that if they had possessed the building skills and materials used today, Shelter Cove would probably have become a sizable Indian community. At that time, heavy rainfall and fierce gales discouraged habitation during the winter.

With the advent of the white man, and the development of the cove as a shipping center, harmony was disrupted. The building of a pier, subjected to violent seas and the taking of bark from the tan oak trees with the wood left rotting on the ground probably created disharmony. The rafting of logs facing the forces of Punta Gorda was not compatible. All these man-made projects were forced upon Shelter Cove, and she retaliated. The pier was destroyed, logs were stranded on the beach, and tan oak trees disappeared.

When Lewis wrote in his records in 1860 that Shelter Cove was “well calculated for a seaside resort,” he probably didn’t realize that his observation was Shelter Cove’s image and personality. If there was going to be any development that could exist with Mother Nature, it had to relate to recreation.

Just as the white man destroyed an Indian sanctuary in the early days, so has fate made an attempt in modern times to correct this tragedy and place Shelter Cove once more in its proper perspective.

It is well known that different areas have individual personalities just as people have. Human personalities can only do what suits them. Not everyone can be an athlete, or a scientist, or a musician, or a plumber. All the activities that Shelter Cover was subjected to were probably not synchronized with her personality. Any development had toco-exist with Mother Nature.

Sometimes destiny is responsible for the particular path that an area follows. Some paths move in a smooth transition, and others resemble a rough, rocky road.

Fate chose the latter course for Shelter Cove and the headlines in the Humboldt Times on December 11, 1964, read as follows:


Many eyebrows were raised as the consensus of opinion by the average citizen in Humboldt County was one of disdain and out- rage. Although eighty percent of the residents in the county had never seen Shelter Cove, almost everyone was against its development as a community

Cove Sea Park Motor Inn

Land developers in other areas had earned a shady reputation and such projects were considered money making schemes. Environmentalists rose in force to denounce the Resort Improvement District as a shameful disgrace. Paved roads were going to desecrate the land, ruin the topography, and erosion was going to scar its beauty. Wild animals were going to be driven from their natural homes and the countryside would be stripped of all its beauty.

In 1972, Proposition 20 was passed by the voters in California.

The California coastline was now under the supervision of the California Coastal Commission.

Ruth Baccus, President of the Shelter Cove Property Owners Association with the help of many irate citizens, unselfishly devoted many hours opposing the Commission’s unfair rulings towards property owners. Here are some of her comments on “the Effects of the Coastal Act on Shelter Cove.”

“In many instances the Coastal Commission put itself above exist- ing law and order to accomplish its purposes. When such actions elicited angry cries from property owners. “You can’t do that! It’s against the law,” the response was, “The Coastal Act supersedes all other law.”


The Coastal Commission was faced with a dilemma; since it had no funds to purchase land, how could development be prevented and not violate private property rights? Quoting from the Coastal Act, it solved the problem of property rights in this manner, “Rights and Expectations.” The issue is not whether property-owners rights could be violated, under Federal and State Constitutions they could not be. The issue, at least in many places, is that property-owners expectations may be affected… Under the Coastal Plan, as under many Constitutional land use laws, people can use their land in a variety of ways, but in some cases not as fully or intensively as they might like.” This rendering of property rights was used in Shelter Cove in the following manner. The shoreline lots from Gull Point to Abalone Point were declared by the Coastal Commission as a Natural Resource Area. However, to “protect” the property rights of owners in that area to be able to use their land, they could trade their land for “transferable development credits” which would allow them to build on a lot in a “receiver area”. In other words, a lot owner could give his $40,000 lot to a “proper governmental agency” in exchangefor a privilege which he already had, the right to build on a lot which he would purchase in a different area of Shelter Cove.

Humboldt County did not accept that condition for certification of its Local Coastal Plan. Instead, the County Board of Supervisors invited the Coastal Conservancy to make a Conservancy Project Area of those lots with the object of purchasing them at fair market value from willing sellers. The Conservancy entered into an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management to trade the purchased lots for inland timber tracts. These shoreline areas would then be maintained as open space by ELM.

The owners in the Project Area were first approached with tentative offers of $20,000 to $25,000. Because the owners presented a united front through the Shelter Cove Property Owners Association, the offers were raised to actual market value of $40,000.

But what happened to shoreline lot owners in the interim? The last Coastal Commission permit issued in that area was to Ron JonesinDecemberof1975.After four months of hassle in hearings, which took place in Fort Bragg, Point Arena, Eureka, and Arcata, the permit seemed doomed for denial. Jones final statement to the commission was, “I don’t give a damn what you say, I’m going to build my home anyway.” After a brief recess, the commissioners voted unanimously to grant the permit.


The only other shoreline permit granted prior to Jones, was to Anthony Volpe. The other four houses on the shoreline pre-date the Coastal Commission.

The reason given for denying subsequent permits in the shoreline area was stated in a denial to George Tomlinson. “Again this ques- tion must be addressed in local coastal planning and no development should take place here until the access issue can be adequately addressed. This lot is only a part of a wider resource management problem.”

Owners who trustingly applied for permits during the seven-year time period when no permit was approved in the shoreline area wasted valuable time and money, not knowing that the cards were stacked against them. They suffered great emotional turmoil and anxiety during the months of waiting for a decision.

One owner, Richard Hiland, was determined to fight for his right to build. He appealed his denial. The appeal was denied. Hiland estimates that he has expended $30,000 above the cost of his land in trying to build a home in Shelter Cove. He is left with nothing but broken dreams and a piece of land which, to this point in time, he has not been allowed to use and which he cannot sell.


The owners of another shoreline lot, Jan and Airi Kulpa, had an unreal experience when applying for a permit from the Coastal Commission. They had owned their lot for about twelve years, dreaming of the time when they would build a home and retire in Shelter Cove. The Planning Department approved their plans and could foresee no problems in obtaining a permit from the Coastal Commission. However, when Jan arrived in Fort Bragg for his hearing, he was surrounded by people wearing red jackets and who called themselves the Red Snappers. They were shouting that they would have no more babies until the land was liberated. The Coastal Commission denied the permit on the grounds that a house on that lot would obstruct public view access and, also, for geologic reasons. The Kulpas appealed the decision. In the interim, as they were on their lot one day a car full of people drove slowly by shouting, “If you build it , we’ll blow it up!” In spite of the threats, the Kulpas pursued their appeal. At the beginning of the hearing the Coastal Commission handed down its decision to uphold the denial, and that if the Kulpas had anything further to say they would be given three to five minutes in which to speak. The denial held, in spite of the fact that the Kulpas presented two different engineering reports from qualified engineers demonstrating that the project was geologically sound. They eventually built on a different lot.

The Coastal Commission approached the problem of limiting the amount of development in the sewer service area in a number of ways. Tom McMahon, the owner of a lot in an R-2 zone (a zoning which allows two units on one lot) submitted a plan for a single-family residence with a studio over the garage. The studio contained a kitchen and a bathroom. In order to reduce density, with a “water and sewer service shortage” given as the reason, the Coastal Commission gave McMahon two alternatives. (1) He could build both his house and his studio if he would purchase another lot in the sewer service area and deed the right of way to a proper governmental agency for public passive recreation, such as camping (even though the camping would be in a residential neighborhood), (2) he could build a single-family residence not to exceed 1500 square feet of living space. Either way, it effectively rezoned his property to R-1 without the legality of going through public hearings by the Planning Commission. No other house had previously, nor has any subsequently, been limited to 1500 square feet. It appears that the decision was not based on statute law, but that it was based on situational law as developed by the Coastal Commission.

However, the main device tried by the Coastal Commission to limit development was an artificial water shortage issue. A back- bone utility system was built by the developer to service all 4,500 lots in the subdivision. However, the supply of utilities was to be developed in incremental stages as built out demanded. During the formation of the Local Coastal Plan there were fewer than 100 houses in Shelter Cove and a developed water supply to service 400 homes. Because water sources had not been developed to service all 4,500 lots, the Coastal Commission convinced the County that unless a permit allocation system was integrated into the Local Coastal Plan, the Plan would not be certified by the Coastal Commission. Twenty permits would be allocated per year, five per quarter. If more applications were received than there were permits available, the permits would be allocated on a point system with lot consolidation as the primary feature. The more lots a person owned, the better his chance of getting a permit.

What effect did this have on the lives of people? At the time the allocation system went into effect, there were five applications before the Coastal Commission. One applicant owned two lots. That permit was granted, following two hearings and much debate. The other four, with only one lot each, were “continued” until the County had an opportunity to pass a similar point allocation system for the remainder of the subdivision which did not lie within the boundaries of the coastal zone. This, the County eventually refused to do. The following December (eight months later) permits had been made available to the other four applicants.



In the meantime, one applicant became so discouraged that he decided not to build. The hassle was just not worth it, he felt.

Another applicant, Lee West, had come to California, following the death of his wife, seeking a place where he felt he could rebuild his life. He was captivated by the beauty of Shelter Cove and its surroundings. Before submitting his application, West had lived in a trailer in the campground at Shelter Cove for a year, making sure that this was the place in which he wanted to settle down. During that year he purchased a lot and painstakingly drew his house plans. He became active in civic affairs. His abilities made him an asset to the small community. West anticipated supplementing his income with woodcraft which he would fashion in the house and garage-workshop which he planned to build. The unanticipated long delay in getting a permit was such a financial drain that West gave up his dream of a home in Shelter Cove and began a business in Southern California.


The two applicants who did eventually build, had a further delay in having to wait to begin construction until the rains subsided.

Approximately fifteen months after the allocation system was put into effect, the County removed it from the Local Coastal Plan in favor of a Public Works Plan which had been developed by the Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District Board. The Public Works Plan demonstrates the district’s ability to supply utilities consistent with development.

Although the sceptic area, which comprises roughly half of the subdivision, lies outside of the coastal zone and is, therefore, not under the jurisdiction of the Coastal Commission, the Coastal Commission, nevertheless, strongly recommended to the Bureau of Land Management that the Bureau purchase those lands and add them to the King Range Conservation Area which surrounds Shelter Cove. The Bureau has shown little interest in pursuing the recommendation because of the high cost involved.

The immediate effect of the Coastal Act on Shelter Cove was a slow-down in development. Construction and the sale of lots and houses came toa virtual stand-still. There was a loss of confidence in the future of the community.

Redwood Road area

The effect in the lives of people was, to some, devastating. To others it meant unnecessary delay and expense, accompanied by extreme personal frustration.

To members of the Shelter Cove Property Owners Association Board, the interpretation of the Coastal Act by the Coastal Commission was the cause of long hours of tension in trying to comprehend the meaning of the voluminous documents issued by the Planning Commission and the Coastal Commission. A new set of language and terminology had to be learned. Untold numbers of hours were

spent in wrestling with the problems and in attending numerous hearings before the Citizens Advisory Committee, the Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and the Coastal Commission.

As taxpayers, the residents of Shelter Cove saw hundreds of thousands of dollars being poured into the process of developing the Local Coastal Plan at a time when vital public services were being cut back due to a lack of funds.

The immediate changes in Shelter Cove, due to the Coastal Act, seem to be confined to the shoreline areas. Most of the lots west of Lower Pacific between Gull Point and Abalone Point, and most of the lots on Beach Road adjacent to Black Sand Beach will be owned and maintained by the Bureau of Land Management as open space, park areas.

What of the future? Time alone will tell.”


In order to understand Shelter Cove’s roll as a seaside community, an evaluation should be made. The land is ideally suited for homesites. The views from every home are outstanding. Some of these scenes include King’s Peak, the coastal mountain range, Black Sand Beach, the tide pools, a view of the waves smashing against the rocks, and the cove itself. At night the commercial fishing vessels at anchor turn on their lights. A little city is reflected below the flat. The airstrip is also pictured in some windows and the

takeoff and landing of planes is an exciting event. There is no area on the California Coast that surpasses the views that are framed in Shelter Cove windows.

It is well known that, throughout history, human beings have always been attracted to the ocean. Among the nations of the Mediterranean Sea, there are many seaside communities. They are very picturesque and are a great attraction to tourists. It seems that in the United States, small villages have been slow in developing in coastal areas. The beach and tide pool areas should be accessible to the public, but every effort should be made to help develop these small villas.

There are many locations along the California Coast that lend themselves to this type of development and Shelter Cove is one of the most beautiful. Building, water, and sewer controls are necessary, but a positive position should be taken and the regulatory bodies should lend a helping hand.

Although slight quakes have occurred in the past seventy years, there has been much controversy over the effect of earthquakes at Shelter Cove. The San Andreas fault runs up the coast and passes through the subdivision. Earthquakes are unpredictable and every- one is aware of the forces involved. They should be placed in the same category as any accident that can occur in a home or automobile. There is no doubt that the danger of an earthquake is always present.

If construction in Shelter Cove had not been permitted, then an effort should have been made to dismantle all the coastal communities that have been already established in earthquake zones.

When environmentalists rose in force to denounce the paved roads and homes, they claimed that wildlife would be destroyed and deer raccoons, foxes, and birds would be driven from their homes.

On the contrary, Shelter Cove has become a wildlife sanctuary. The residents have banded together and are protecting the animals. Many deer can be seen grazing around the homes in daylight hours and almost every homeowner is placing food where the wildlife can have a supplementary supply.

When the author sits down to dinner every night, a group of raccoons are also dining. They can be seen through a picture window adjacent to the dining area and their antics are very interesting. Many people have a hummingbird feeder and these small birds receive help during the winter.

Regardless of all the setbacks Shelter Cove builders have en- dured, the fact remains that most of the man-made obstructions to deter the development are being swept aside. Already there seems to be a relaxing of resentment and controls by the regulatory agencies.

Another tremendous asset to the community is the establishment of the King’s Range Conservation Area. Shelter Cove is located in the middle on the coastal side of the National Park. This section of land will remain a wilderness territory governed by the Bureau of Land Management, a government agency.

A herd of elk have been transplanted from Orick, California, to the conservation area and more transplants have been planned. The lush vegetation provides plenty of food for these animals and many people will visit the Range tosee and photograph these magnificent beasts.

Three campgrounds are available on the King’s Range: Walaki, Nordelos, and Tolkan.

Shelter Cove’s shoreline presents an excellent view for whale watching. In the late fall, California Grey whales set off on one of the longest migrations undertaken by any mammal – a 6,000-mile journey from feeding grounds in the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean to Lower California where they will give birth to their young. On their way south they pass Shelter Cove in December and January. In March, April, and May, they return moving close to shore. Whale watching is destined to become a favorite pastime for future residents and visitors as some of these fascinating mammals seem to rest in the cove before continuing northward.

As was stated previously, John Ray, an early pioneer, traded a span of oxen to a Mr. Hamilton in the 1850’s for the Shelter Cove Ranch, the site of the present-day Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District. John’s gravesite overlooks the ocean and is surrounded by picturesque homes. The site is unknown except toa few individuals including the author.

During conversations in 1930, with some of the men that had been present dur ing the days of the pack mules, the steam schooners and the tan bark, many believed and stated that Shelter Cove had all the physical characteristics of a seaside community, and they all predicted that it would someday take its place as one of the most picturesque areas on the California Coast.


Note, the above book, Gem of the Lost Coast – A Narrative History of Shelter Cove by Mario Machi has been out of print for some time. Mainly for the benefits of locals and visitors to Shelter Cove, I’ve done my best to transcribe it here an old copy I found. Please pardon any typos I have yet to find and correct. Feel free to bring them to my attention or to make any other suggestions for additions or corrections to this website: Contact.

– Chris

P.S. if you enjoy Mario Machi’s book, feel encouraged to stop by Mario’s of Shelter Cove, Shelter Cove General Store, or Gem of the Lost Coast Jewelry (all owned/run by descendants of the author Mario Machi) and give them some business or appreciation, or, if you’re remote, feel encouraged to make a donations to the National Ataxia Foundation at in honor of the late Thomas Joseph Machi, Jr., 1957-2021. The Machis have lived at Shelter Cove for the last 90 years.

P.S. for other bits of history of Shelter Cove, see links