The first settlers to come to the Elk area did not come to the area to log the redwoods, they came to hunt, trap or ranch the area. Among the first to come to the Elk area were, William Richardson, Francisco Faria, James Kenny, Orso Clift, Nathaniel Smith, and Britton Greenwood. It is Britton Greenwood's name from which Elk's second name Greenwood comes from. If it were not for another town named Greenwood first in California, Elk would be called Greenwood today. Many still call it Greenwood. Any discussion of early Elk can not be complete with out discussing Cuffey's Cove, located a mile or so to the north of Elk. By 1880, James Kenny had purchase land from several original settlers and owned on both sides of the main road (Howard Street & Hwy 1 today) from the gulch on the north side of the present day catholic cemetery to the gulch north of the Greenwood school. Basically, all the land between Cuffey's Cove and Greenwood.
In 1868 Kenny saw the possibility of a shipping point from which local produce and redwood products could be loaded on ship for San Francisco. By 1870 there were as many as 11 sailing vessels in the harbor and 80 tie teams hauling ties from surrounding camps. The hillsides and fields south of the cemetery were covered with ties. From this sprung up the town of Cuffey's Cove which preceded Greenwood.
While Cuffey's Cove prospered, other men besides Kenny started to think of building loading chutes. Fred Hemke built a chute just north of the Cuffey's Cove harbor for his saw mill two miles up Greenwood Creek. At Dinny Doyle's Point (now St. Anthony's Point) on the north end of Greenwood the Chism Chute was attempted. A third one in Li Foo's Gulch (on the north end of the present Greenwood State Park) was started, but not completed by Lorenzo E. White. Two miles south of Greenwood was the forth at Uncle Abe's Landing. None were successful.
The course of history was about to change when L.E. White bought 21 acres of land in Greenwood from his brother-in-law, J.S. Kimball. White complained about the shipping facilities in Cuffey's Cove and was determined to remedy the situation and build a sawmill on Greenwood Creek. White had built a railroad to carry his products to Cuffey's Cove and now all he needed was the chutes. He attempted to buy them for $40,000 but Mr. Kenny wanted $75,000. Undaunted, White began work with surveyors, laborers and seamen in Greenwood to find a suitable location of his own on his land. He proposed to build a steep incline from the cliffs to a wharf build along the rocks in Greenwood Cove. The project took two years to complete but was successful. The wharf lasted the lifetime of the mill he built at the mouth of Greenwood Creek. The success of this wharf basically put Cuffey's Cove out of business and the town drifted into history. Much of Cuffey's Cove packed up and moved to Greenwood.
Pictures of Elk, Then and Now
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