John Vonderlin: 1864: All About William Waddell

Story from/by John Vonderlin

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I forget where I got this newspaper article, but it has more detailed information about William Waddell’s efforts then I have seen before. I had heard about the frustrated first attempt to build a wharf at Waddell Creek, but wasn’t aware it was almost done, before abandonment.

$50,000 was a huge sum of money back then, but at least he got some use out of his second wharf, before he was fatally chewed by a grizzly. Mr. Waddell’s sad demise is often mentioned in early accounts of the Coastside, often as a reminder of how wild it was back then. Oddly, on a website that tries to detail every bear attack in North America, his was the only one documented in the 1870’s. I suspect that their records don’t include the many other solo travelers or hunters, whose only sign of passing was a colorful bit of flannel in a bear scat, as happened several times in Mendocino County when I lived there.

By the way, the “Casa Del Ursa”  as herein mentioned, or “Valle Del Ursos” as I’ve read elsewhere, was the early name for Waddell Valley. It got that moniker because it was the area where  bears were often caught to be transported to Santa Cruz, for the mind-boggling, but fairly common entertainment of a bear and bull fight.

Enjoy. John

Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 16, 1864) stated that:

W. W. Waddell & Co. of Santa Cruz have been engaged, for more than two years last past, in extensive preparations for manufacturing lumber. Their situation is below New Years’ Point on the Casa del Ursa, more familiarly known as Waddell’s Creek. There are fine bodies of timber around the sources of all streams that flow into the Pacific between Santa Cruz and Pescadero, but the belt of timber upon Waddell’s Creek is more extensive and compact than any other. This enterprising firm commenced by building a steam mill, about two and a half miles from the coast, and an expensive road between these two points. They also constructed a wharf, into the ocean, which they intended should be a thousand feet long. After this wharf was nearly completed but had not yet reached a depth of water sufficient to admit of loading vessels it was found that a ridge of rock prevented driving piles any farther out into the ocean, and the wharf was abandoned. They then built a road from this wharf along the coast two and a half miles, and from this point commenced the construction of another wharf about 700 feet long. In the construction of these wharves and roads they have used 100,000 feet of lumber, and have expended about $50,000. The lumber was sawed at their mill. The W. W. Waddell & Co. of Santa Cruz has the most extensive lumbering establishment south of San Francisco.

To convey his lumber to the wharf, Waddell built a five mile horse tramway between the mouth of the creek and Punta del Año Nuevo (New Year’s Point), designed in as straight a line as possible. This followed the course of the stream, with twelve bridges crossing its meandering channel. The mill was located on high ground between the confluence of the east and west forks of the creek, known from then until now as Waddell Creek. A large number of men were employed

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