Fort Bragg, California

Fort Bragg, California

Fort Bragg is a village with a hard-working past and a fun-loving future. The Pacific Ocean is less than one-half mile from the heart of town. But it has always been separated by a giant redwood mill. On the south end of town is tiny sheltered Noyo Harbor, a picturesque hub of maritime activity. North beyond the mouth of a scenic creek are miles of rugged beaches, coves, and low sand dunes. Low rolling mountains east of town are blanketed with near-rain-forest overgrowth.

The first lumber mill was established on the Noyo River in 1857. Growth was rapid, especially after California Western Railroad (the “Skunk Train”) formed to haul freight inland, and Noyo Harbor developed into a major commercial fishing port.

Today, commercial fishing is much diminished, the giant mill is closed, and the uncertain future of freight hauling threatens the continuing existence of the railroad. But, the outlook (while murky) is golden thanks to improving tourist facilities and the grand setting. The splendid little harbor is a prime destination for travelers seeking bracing nautical scenery, fresh seafood restaurants, sportfishing and whale-watching cruises, and harbor-view lodgings. Hopefully, the unique “Skunk Train” will continue as the single most important attraction on the North Coast. Finally, the mill site can become the key link between the ocean and downtown (as it did years ago in Mendocino). The legacy of unassuming Victorian redwood commercial buildings and houses are already serving nicely as shops featuring local arts, crafts and collectibles, and nostalgic lodgings.