Stewarts Point and the adjacent Fisherman Bay have a long and important history to the indigenous Pomo people who have lived in the area for millennia. The large sheltered cove fed by a small creek offered access to the area’s bountiful marine and coastal resources. The topographic advantages of this location were equally recognized by Euro-American settlers who set out from San Francisco to take advantage of the coastal redwood forest. John and Andrew Fisk built the first landing at Stewarts Point in 1867. By 1877, three lumber chutes shipped out products from nearby mills. Herbert Archer (H. A.) Richardson bought the property in 1881and used the middle chute, the only operational one by that time, until he built his own. Richardson’s lumbering activities were a family venture that continued on for 40 years until trucks replaced water shipment in 1925.
Stewarts Point Landing developed into a small community with 30 buildings including a store, hotel, post office, and blacksmith shop. Several mill operations nearby supplied posts, railroad ties, tan bark, fencing, cordwood, and shingles for export out through the doghole port. Additionally, farm and dairy products also made their way to San Francisco via the lumber ships. As chute technology progressed, the slide chute was replaced by a wire chute, which was much simpler to use and faster to load with. To supply the chutes, mill operators installed a system of steam and horse drawn railroads to move the forest products to the cliff edge. The Richardson’s even owned their own fleet of schooners and steam schooners to better control the flow of goods.
Stewarts Point is private property today, but Stewarts Point Store, on Route 1 provides a scenic view of the doghole port. The cultural landscape contains a combination of lumber and ranch features all emblematic of the redwood coasts’ diverse heritage. The 2016 Doghole Ports Survey team was able to document Stewarts Point and talk with Harold Richardson (1919-2016), grandson of H.A., lifelong timberman, and resident of Stewarts Point. This remarkable opportunity provided an unforgettable human element to the story, one that the project team will carry on through the interpretation of the Sonoma Coast doghole ports.
-- Deborah Marx, Maritime Archaeologist, Maritime Heritage Program, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries