2017 History Society picnic spot is Sturgeon’s Mill - Sept 17th

For this year’s Sonoma County History Society picnic, our historic chosen spot is Sturgeon’s Mill, at 2150 Green Hill Road west of Sebastopol. It’s a great place to get a sense of what rural life was like back in the late 19th and early 20th century. SCHS day at the mill is Sunday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. on. The visit is open to members and friends. We ask that you let us know if you are coming and how many are in your party by phoning Sharie Sbrazza at 707-570-7076 or Marjorie Torliatt at 707-545-7507. Hot lunches will be available for sale at reasonable prices although people can also bring goodies from home if they so desire. There are some restrictions. No dogs are allowed, and the same goes for alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs. It’s recommended that people wear flat shoes, since there are some slippery areas, and since we are not going to a Broadway musical, high heels don’t seem quite right.

Since we’ll only a few miles from the ocean, mill veterans tell us to dress in layers and take photos in the morning. The mill, with 60 or so volunteers, welcomes visitors four weekends a year. The last weekend opening is Oct. 14-15.

In the 2nd half of the 19th century, logging was a dangerous business. Mules, oxen and horses pulled logs out of the woods. Things got better in the 1880s, when steam-powered Donkey engines came along, improving production of lumber. Arrival of the North Coast Railroad in 1877 opened the Russian River area to more intense logging. Partners Wade Sturgeon, John Donati and J.W. Gonella opened the first Sturgeon’s Mill in Coleman Valley in 1914. In the 1920s, the mill was moved to its present location. In 1942, Wade’s son Ralph and Jim Henningsen became partners and continued in business until 1964.

The current activities include a chance to view close-up an 1890s Atlas Steam Engine which drives a saw blade that cuts through giant redwood and fir logs. Also in prime condition, especially in a year when we’ve had lots of rain, are the Woodland Gardens first planted by Wayne and Esther Sturgeon many years ago. Driving directions: From Hwy. 101 in Santa Rosa, take Hwy. 12 exit toward Sebastopol; go on Hwy. 12 for 3.4 miles, then take a right onto Fulton Road (just one block) and turn west (left) onto Occidental Road; After 7 miles, turn right onto Green Hill Rd., go one-half mile down hill to the bottom where you will find the parking lot.