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Home Towns

Caspar, California

Caspar is a very small village in northern California with currently little more than 300 inhabitants. Its cluster of houses huddles together like for protection from the storms that are common in winter along the Pacific coast. The village is practically invisible from Highway One, except maybe for the church steeple. but the place wasn't always this small. Here is what local writer and environmentalist Richard H. Tooker once wrote about the place:

"As a lumber company, it was large enough to last over 90 years in the business, but small enough to be owned by one family. It was large enough to be a typical redwood lumbering operation, but small enough to be the subject of a comprehensive photographic documentary. It was large enough to run a logging railroad with a variety of motive power, but small enough to depend on water transportation to get the lumber to market.

As a town, Caspar was small enough to be taken in almost at a glance. Yet it was large enough to have a brick building for the company store and office (one that survived the 1906 earthquake), and to have a church, its pastor being the best-known minister on the coast. It was small enough to be hard to find on the map, but large enough to be well known on the banks of the Ottawa River(a number of Canadians settled in Caspar).

And as a seaport it wasn't overlooked. It was smaller than a port like Fort Bragg, but larger than the usual coastal landing. And Caspar ships usually had a home guard as the backbone of the crew. One of these crewmen during the first decade of this century was Caspar Charlie Carlson. Captain Charles Carlson summed it all up for me one evening during his last years: "Caspar meant so much to me in my memory that in later years as I ran up and down the coast as a captain, I always blew the whistle when we passed the place, no matter what time of day or night it was. I didn't care what anybody thought: that's just how I felt about it."

The steamship Caspar being loaded from the headlands via the wire chute.
Passengers embarked by the same means, riding in the "Pullman" visible at right.
Photo by Richard Tooker Collection © National Maritime Museum

The March 1939 National Geographic celebrated the completion of the Golden
Gate bridge and the opening of the area of California north of the Golden Gate
to exploration by automobile. Prior to that time, roads into the area were crude or non-existent, and most folks traveled by dog-hole schooner or, later, steamer.

Caspar lumber mill around 1890

The mill crew in 1904
Photo by Miles Brothers
© National Maritime Museum

The Mill in 1938
Photo by B. Anthony Stewart
© 1939 National Geographic Society
The "big splash" is the result of a log hitting the millpond after sliding down the chute.

Caspar's modern history started in 1857 with the arrival of German farmer Siegfried Caspar, who later sold the land to Jacob Green Jackson, one of the founders of the Caspar Lumber Company, which turned Caspar into a significant logging town in Northern California.
Click the Dream Catcher to get to our Mendocino County History page for a detailed history of the area.
Today, there is not much left of this past glory. Only some remnants of the old mill can still be found at the mouth of Caspar Creek.



Now, why would we care about a place one can hardly see from the highway?
It is home! This is where Judy was born in 19... well, some time ago.
This is where she spent the first years of her childhood.

XXXXXXXXXJudy's first home


Above is the house in which Judy spent the first months of her life.

A little later, the family moved into a house across the treet. We couldn't take a
picture of that house because a couple of years later, Caspar Road was built right
through it and the family moved to nearby Fort Bragg.


Here are more pictures of Caspar:

Above are the former company store (center) and two typical houses.
To the left is the old church, now a Jewish community center.

And then, of course, there is the old schools house (right). We have so much about this place that we put it on an extra site. Click here to visit the school.

Click the U-turn sign to get back to the home towns start page.
Or click the right turn sign to move on to the school house page.

We also visited the old Caspar Cemetery, where Judy paid her respect to old friends and neighbours and Volker paid his tribute to a fellow sailor.

Caspar is not the biggest town on earth, but it a place that is proud of its past and proud of what they accomplish today. Visit the village's website, or – even better – visit the place.

At least, as the people of Caspar state on their website,

XXXXXXXXXWave when you drive by!

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