Newport & Kibesillah – The Beginning

Photo by Kathleen M. Nevin

All that remained of Kibesillah in 1999/Photo by Kathleen M. Nevin © 2015

 

The future looked bright for the two logging towns of Newport and Kibesillah on the northern coast of California. Still in their “infancy” in 1883, the progress of the two small towns was hailed for exceeding “…the most sanguine expectations of the primitive settlers…”

Prof. Henry E. Whipple "Kibesillah Letter" appeared regularly in the Mendocino Beacon from 1878 to 1886/Debra Callahan Collection

Prof. Henry E. Whipple’s “Kibesillah Letter” appeared regularly in the Mendocino Beacon from 1878 to 1886/Debra Callahan Collection

 

Prof. Henry Ethan Whipple, a columnist for the Mendocino Beacon in the 1880s, believed that the two towns would accommodate “ten-fold more men and money will be employed in the next ten years.”  But the dream never became a reality. Difficult harbors in both Newport and Kibesillah were eventually regarded as too dangerous for large-scale logging operations, and Fort Bragg inherited the promise of Newport and Kibesillah. 

A mere blip on any timeline, the towns of Newport and Kibesillah only existed for about 40 years, from 1867 to the early 1900s. The real death blow came in 1885, when lumber operations moved to Fort Bragg. Despite a brief life span, the legacy of these towns endures in the hearts and recollections of the descendants of residents and former residents, and in the tales of those who still live in this picture-perfect spot on the California coast. 

From “Newport & Kibesillah – A Tale of Two Mendocino County Coastal Logging Towns in Northern California,” © 2015 by Kathleen M. Nevin