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Home Towns

Fort Bragg, California

Fort Bragg, where Judy spent a number of years from when she was six until she was 14, only has 7,000 inhabitants, but for Northern California, that is a big city – the largest settlement along the coast between San Francisco and Eureka. Until 2004, Fort Bragg was the proud owner of the only traffic light on Highway One north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fort Bragg's modern history started with a small Army outpost in 1857.

For a more detailed history of the area, click the Dream Catcher to get to our Mendocino County History page.
When the white men came into the state of California, either in covered wagon across the plains, or around the Horn, the California Indian was herded onto reservations. One of these was the Mendocino reservation. Together with the reservation, a small outpost was founded in 1857. Its commander, Artillery Lieutenant Horatio Gates Gibson named his former commander, who retired from the US Army as a Colonel in 1856.
Four years later, namesake Colonel Braxton Bragg accepted a commission by his native state of Louisiana in 1861 and became a General in the Confederate Army. This makes Fort Bragg, CA one of the few places in the United States named after a Confederate General.

XXXXXXXXXXXInspection at Fort Bragg; painting by Alexander Edouart, 1859
The Fort was in use only for seven years. In September 1864, at the height of the civil War, many Northern Californian Army units were ordered south. The troops serving at the Fort Bragg garrison left on the steamer Panama on October 19, 1864 and arrived at the Presidio of San Francisco the next day. The troops never returned and the area was opened for development just a few years later. Today, only one building and the name remain.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXCommissary Building on North Franklin Streeet;
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXthe only remaining building of the original fort.

Commerce in the Californian north means lumber. The first lumber mill in Mendocino county was built as early as 1852, the first sawmill in Fort Bragg opened in 1885 and logging was the way of life here for the next five generations. Most of the remaining Redwood forests received state protection in the 1960s, but on a smaller scale, logging continued until 2002.

Today, Fort Bragg is mainly a tourist destination, but the town still proudly presents its heritage as a home of hard working people.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXThis tree, displayed in the center of Fort Bragg
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXlived to be 1,753 years old before it was cut in 1943.

Center of the town is the old Company Store, now a shopping mall. Inside are hundreds of pictures illustrating Fort Bragg's history.

Picture gallery in the Company Store Judy, checking out the pictures Judy discovers a family member!
Loading logs on a ship by chute, 1870 Chute operator Logger
Logging was not only a physically hard job, it also required handling of really heavy machinery.

Judy's father used to operate machines like the one in the left picture. He also drove trucks like the one in the right picture.

Only a few blocks away from the center is a tiny pink house. This is where Judy spent eight years together with her parents and four siblings. And just a little bit further up the hill is the school they all went to.

And there is still more to Fort Bragg. Click the right-turn signals below to get to two local tourist attractions.
XXXXXXXXXXXTake a right turn here to get to Fort Bragg's famous Glass Beach.
XXXXXXXXXXXOr take a right turn here to ride the even more famous Skunk Train.

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