Kibesillah, Mendocino Coast

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Kibesillah, Mendocino Coast

by | Dec 19, 2019

Kibesillah was the site of a lumber loading chute and a historical settlement located 3.3 miles (5.3 km) south of Westport and about 10 miles (16 km) north of Fort Bragg, California. For a short time, Kibesillah was one of the most important coastal towns of northern California with 20 to 30 buildings including a blacksmith shop, three hotels, three saloons, a public school, and a Baptist Church. The origin of the name may be from the Pomo Native American words Kabe (rock) and sila (flat).

A lumber mill was built at neighboring Newport by the Field Brothers in the 1860s but was destroyed by fire in 1877. Calvin Stewart and James Hunter rebuilt the mill on the original site and it operated from about 1878 to 1885. The town persisted until about 1928 when the school was closed. The mill at Newport and had a capacity of 25,000 feet (7,622 m) per day and the lumber produced was hauled by six-horse teams to Kibesillah where it was loaded onto schooners using a gravity chute. The schooners were made fast to several moorings located on rocks and on the shore. The mooring lines were set in such a way that the schooners had a chance of running back and forth with the surging waves. When C.R. Johnson became a partner with Stewart and Hunter in 1882 he decided that Soldiers Point in Fort Bragg was a better location to expand the mill. The shoreline off the point at Fort Bragg could also accommodate a wharf thereby eliminating the labor-intensive use of a loading chute.

Today, the relatively gentle sloping exposed rock ramps at Kibesillah are favored study sites for marine biologists studying the effects of the ocean on intertidal marine animals and plants. The hard siltstone ramps are cut by deep surge channels and the wave impacts can be severe, however, the bedrock is still dominated by mussel beds and diverse marine algae. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kibesillah here:

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