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Manchester
The Manchester area begins just south of the Bridgeport District at Mallo Pass Creek and extends to just south of the town of Manchester. It comprises the vacation house community of Irish Beach, long stretches of farmland, Manchester State Beach and the town of Manchester. The principal road through the area is Highway One. Mountain View Road, located just south of Manchester, leaves the area via 25 miles of slow mountain road to arrive in Boonville, part of the Anderson Valley. Manchester has a population of about 400 and has a post office and the largest grocery/hardware store on the Elk Coast. Manchester State Beach is the principle recreation area with large areas for public use.

The expansive beauty of Manchester State Beach can be seen in this photo looking south towards the Point Arena Lighthouse. A large beach, nearly 5 mile2 long, Manchester State Beach is a beautiful public recreation area. Long sandy driftwood stretches of beach characterize this area as ideal for solitude, camping, horseback riding, jogging and picnicking.

As one enters the Manchester Area from the north, one encounters a public Vista Point over looking the mouth of Mallo Pass Creek on the west side of the road. The name Mallo Pass comes from the early Spanish name Gran Mal Pass meaning Great Bad Pass as it's 200 foot depth seriously impeded travel along the coast. This gulch was so rugged that even the strongest travelers dreaded the crossing. When the pass was muddy, wagons had to be dismantled and lowered with a block and tackle to cross. Sometimes a pulley was employed to cross. Even this could be very hazardous as a woman and her child were lost to the gorge. Traveling across this pass did not become routine until the 1930's when an all weather bridge was built.

This photo was taken from the Vista Point just north of Irish Beach. This public area is popular for travelers and locals alike. High above the Pacific Ocean, one can see a sweeping panorama extending from the wild ocean and beaches to the houses of Irish Beach.

Next one encounters the sign for the Victorian Gardens Bed and Breakfast Inn on the east side of the road. The Victorian Gardens is a restored Victorian farmhouse situated on 90 acres of land east of the highway. Open for lodging and dinners, it is one of the few inns on this stretch of the coast. Next one encounters the housing community of Irish Beach. Consisting of mainly vacation homes, Irish Beach has permanent residents also and their own Volunteer Fire Department. Homes along the ocean often have spectacular views of the ocean and Manchester State Beach.

Irish Beach is the only actual subdivision on the Elk Coast and consists primarily of permanent residents and vacation houses, many of which are for rent. This photo was taken from one of the only condominiums here located high in the hills above the rest of the homes.

Houses to the east of Highway One are more numerous and easier to buy or rent. Long paved roads on the east side of the highway are ideal for walking or jogging. A pond is available to the owners or renters for fishing. A road just south of the last house winds it's way down to the beach but is only available to owners or renters.

This scene, located looking north from Alder Creek, shows a valley stretching to the sea. Hwy 1 can be seen on the right. This valley is a branch of the San Andreas Fault where the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake went out to sea. Extensive damage was done to the towns and local ranches. Land slides covered crop land and the Point Arena Lighthouse was knocked down.

There is interesting history involving a near range war between settlers and loggers around the turn of the century. Homesteaders arrived in the area around 1891, which was before the area was surveyed and available for settlement. In 1893 the area was opened to settlement and all the ranchers went to San Francisco together to file their claims. The State Land Office informed them that the area was already claimed by a timber company. The homesteaders sued and 18 years later the suit was still unsettled. During that time the homesteaders continued to work the land even through the great earthquake of 1906. In 1911 the timber company had completed a rail line to the area and hired 20 gunfighters to evict the ranchers. Although the gunfighters were called "guards", they were actually ex cons hired just after their release from San Quentin. The settlers asked for help from the law but no one ever came to help. The situation was finally defused when a fight between the "guards" broke out and one shot another. There was talk of the "guards" riding into Greenwood and shooting up the place. Finally an armed load of townspeople arrived and disarmed the "guards" and loaded them onto a ship destined for San Francisco. The timber company eventually bought the land for $400 per 160 acre parcel of virgin redwood.

Alder Creek, shown here, is also a public entrance to Manchester State Beach. As you enter you will pass by the abundant crop land.

Just before you arrive in Manchester, there area several entrances to Manchester State Beach. The first encountered is at Alder Creek Beach Road. This road will take you to the north end of Manchester State Beach. If one takes a walk on the bluffs above the beach at this entrance, you will encounter 2 deserted houses built in the style of the 60's. These 2 homes built right next to each other look like they once held someone's dream and one wonders what happened to allow them to decay away. Local word has it that these 2 homes were built by 2 lumbermen who worked in Elk. After feeling like they wanted to "get out of town", they sold the nearly new homes in the mid 60's along with the large acreage to the state to become part of Manchester State Beach. Since then the homes have just sat there becoming condemned relics of a past dream.

This photo was taken in the spring time looking north from the Alder Creek area of Manchester State Beach. If this photo looks familiar, perhaps you've seen one just like it used on the Elk Coast Brochure for 1998. Spring wild flowers are plentiful in the area. A long stretch of the Elk Coast is visible in the distance stretching through Bridgeport and Elk. The topography of the coast can clearly be seen with the coastal plain followed by the hills to the east. You can see a small group of houses on the cliffs to the right of the picture belonging to Irish Beach.

The main entrance to Manchester State Beach can be found on Kinney Road, just north of Manchester. Here there is a State Park with approximately 46 primitive campsites nestled in the dunes about a half mile from the beach. One can also walk a level mile to the environmental campsites. For more accommodating camping, visit the Manchester Beach KOA. This site offers many of the services one comes to expect at a KOA plus their Kamping Kabins and other treats.

The town of Manchester has a population of about 450. Services include a Post Office, a large grocery and hardware store, a school and other small businesses. The Garcia Grange offers a hearty breakfast on the first Sunday of each month and is located just east of Hwy 1 on Crispin Lane. Amoung the first settlers in the Manchester area were Awasa and Jane Saunders who left Maine in 1856. Awasa came west with his own lumber mill equipment traveling around Cape Horn while Jane took the new train across the isthmus of Panama. They were bound for Eureka when their ship foundered off of Point Arena. They settled at Brush Creek the first lumber mill there in 1857. They left the area in 1879 when the lumber market collapsed.

When one leaves the Manchester area heading south, you will cross the Garcia River, a small stream with a metal bridge for the highway. The Garcia is named for a 1844 Mexican land grant to Rafael Garcia, brother-in-law to Stephen Smith of Rancho Bodega. The mexican government awarded Garcia 40,000 acres extending from the Garcia River to Mallo Pass to the north. He built a Ranchero where one sees the Stornetta dairy farms where Mountain View Road meets Highway One today. Garcia erected a guardhouse on the river's north bank where a caretaker looked over his property and grazing cattle. This guardhouse still stood in 1904 by one report. Garcia's land grant was denied by the California State Land Commission in 1854, but he left many marks of his presence.

Elk Coast California