Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hartsook Inn

The Hartsook Inn
We have such incredibly wonderful history along the South Fork of the Eel canyon. Some places more than others. It is especially sad for me to drive through Richardson Grove and realize that I'm one of the few people left around here that had seen it in it's heyday.

I’ve often said that “I’m not really a historian, but I do know where most of the bodies are buried”. So, as one might guess, I know quite bit about the fabled Hartsook Inn. The Hartsook Inn was built by Fred Hartsook, (1876-1930) a man who was mostly known as a famous photographer. Fred Hartsook operated about twenty photography studios. He owned what was reputed to be “The largest photography business in the world”. He took the official photographs of most all of the famous people of the day, and all the great movie stars. He made the official Presidential photograph of Woodrow Wilson.

In 1919 Hartsook married Bess Hesby who was “Miss Liberty in the 1915 San Francisco “Pan-Pacific Exposition“. Fred took his honeymoon at a cabin in the redwoods, at the present location of the Hartsook Inn. I’m not sure how he got there, but it was about the time that Highway 101 was opened through Richardson Grove. According to Nona James, she drove up highway 101 before it was opened to the public. She said that it was in 1917 or 1918.

Bess Hartsook

Fred and Bess Hartsook had three children: Helen, Frederick, and Delyte. Fred Hartsook also had a daughter, Francis, from a previous marriage.

In the early 1920s Fred and Bess purchased 37 acres of pristine redwood forest and built the Hartsook Inn. By 1926 the resort was given it’s own township status, and was granted a United States Post Office. It even had a gas station! That makes it a bona fide town! The town was called “Hartsook” California. In August of 1927 the Hartsook Inn burned to the ground in a large forest fire. Uncontrolled forest fires were very common back then. They had no real way to fight them. Fortunately the redwoods were not permanently damaged and they grew back better than ever. The Inn was rapidly rebuilt and reopened. Fred had a good rapport with the Hollywood crowd, having taken most of their photographs. The Hartsook became the Hollywood group’s playground. Many would take extended vacations up here in the redwoods. The more notable among them were Mary Pickford and Bing Crosby.

As a side note, my grandfather Bill Rathjens, who owned a service station in Laytonville, was also a Kohler Light Plant dealer. He provided the Hartsook Inn with their first electricity.

On 30 September 1930, Fred Hartsook died of a heart attack at the age of 53. That often happens to old men that marry beautiful young women. Bess Hartsook outlived her husband by forty-six years and operated the Hartsook Inn until 1938. In 1938 the Hartsook went into receivership, strangely, the place burned down again… ( due to a fire in the kitchen… WINK) The Inn was rebuilt and reopened in 1941, just in time for world war II.


The Lingenfelters, Darrell and Dorothy, took over the management and ownership of the Hartsook Inn. They did quite well with it through the years. A fellow by the name of Chet Willows managed the place with his wife, Julie, who retired to Phillipsville and just recently died. I’m not sure of the ownership of the Inn during that tenure. Maybe the Willows owned it. I remember the Harsook kitchen back in the 60's. They had an executive Chef. (I'm sorry, but I forgot his name) The chef was the typical Chef, he ran things like an orchestra conductor. He was very firm, and he checked every plate that left the kitchen. If it wasn't perfect, there was hell to pay. Everything in the kitchen would stop, on the spot, there would be a lecture as to what went wrong and why it would never happen again. The kitchen had a "pantry chef" that did all the salads, pates, and cold appetizers. There was a souse chef, a pastry chef, and various cooks and helpers, plus a bus staff that cleaned and reset all the tables. They had a dishwashing staff that kept all the plates and silverware cleaned and polished.

 The female summer help, mostly high-school and college students from Eureka, lived over the kitchen. It was hot up there, in every way. I remember coming down to the dances next door at French's campground. The girls from Hartsook would come over to dance, but they had a 10:00 PM curfew, so they had to leave early. They had a house mother that lived up there with them and she did periodic nose counts, much needed nose counts, because the girls all imagined themselves to be in love with one of the local "country boys".

While under the propriety of the Lingenfelters, there was no alcohol served at the Hartsook. No way. Absolutly not. Don't even bring your own Bottle! If God had intended for you to get drunk he would have given you alcohol! Alcohol is the root of all evil. I have heard many lectures about alcohol from the Lingenfelters. Back in 1983 I was the president of the Garberville Rotary club. Any thought of alcohol was sternly disaproved of by Darrell, who was also a member of the club. I was a juror on a drunk driving trial with Dorothy. The judge asked her if she had ever taken a drink of alchohol. She firmly stated that she had not! Taken aback, he went on to ask her, "Not even a sip? Do you know what it tastes like?" That is the first and last time that I ever heard a judge get a lecture and give an oppology. He then thanked her and excused her. It was hilarious.

My mother Elsie Branscomb and my aunt Vivian Newland owned an ice cream parlor, soda fountain, and sandwich shop in Garberville. They made premium, high butterfat content ice cream, 14% butterfat. A few people even rave about it today. (me) They made Creme-de-menthe ice-cream for the Harsook Inn. I often chuckle about knowing that mom made it with creame-de-menthe Liquor. 20% ALCOHOL.
The Inn burned down again in 1973. I was a firefighter at that fire. C.D.F Battalion Chief Harry Pritchard was the Incident Commander on the fire. Harry went on to become Humboldt county 2nd District Supervisor. I also might add that Harry and I were relatives. Both from old local families that go back to the 1800’s. I was assigned the north end of the building. AHEM… the part of the building that was saved! Never mind that it was also the only part of the building that was not on fire yet when the firefighters got there. We sent a pumper truck to the river to provide the water to fight the fire. We didn’t save much, but once again it was rapidly rebuilt. What you see today when you drive past the rapidly deteriorating building is the 4th Hartsook Inn to be built on the same basic foundation.

The most recent history of the Hartsook is, that it was bought by Richard Head, who also owned the Phillipsville Trailer Park and the Deerhorn Lodge. Head added a liqour license and bar, he also upgraded the kitchen. He had a very popular local Chef in the kitchen by the name of  Kieth Tommson (sp?) Tommson operated the Trees Restaurant in Garberville, until it burned down. Homeless people had moved into the basement. Nobody asked them to leave because they felt sorry for them. It is unknown whether the fire was caused by the homeless, or if somebody burned them out. Sadly, any building the the homeless occupy, unsupervised, burns down. Fact of life #23. I've seen far too much of it.

Richard Head didn't do as well as he hoped that he would, he consequently took out a timber harvest plan to log the redwoods on the property. He cut a few, but the save the redwoods league asked him to stop. He did, and they purchased the Hartsook property. They in turn sold it to the same people that bought Heartwood College at Island Mountain, Bennett and Delphina Dorrance. I've heard numerous rumors that it may become a branch campus of Heartwood.

It's sad the way things go with some of our local history. Maybe the Dorrences will revive some of The Harsook Inn's former glory.


http://www.groupsrv.com/movie/about75181.html Click on link, then scroll down a bit for the story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hartsook
http://savetheredwoods.org/newsroom/pr/pr_hartsook.pdf
http://rosieradiator.com/id3.html



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50 comments:

Robin Shelley said...

I remember the billboards with the big red heart that used to advertise Hartsook Inn when I was a child. It seemed to me that it must be a romantic place. It also seemed to me that it must be an expensive place because, just as with Benbow Inn, we always drove right on by and never stopped.

Ernie Branscomb said...

It was "High-Dollar Fare", but darn well worth it.
It was also a very romantic place to stay. Many honeymoons were spent there. Also many proposals (and Propositions) were made there

Anonymous said...

Great to relive the old times. Sad to hear the Inn burnt down again. I worked there right out of H.S. (South Fork) in 1964 & lived above the kitchen. Thanks for the memories!

Anonymous said...

I also remember the "fake" highway patrol car that sat out in front. HaHa

Ernie Branscomb said...

Anon SF '64 grad.
WHO was the house mother???

I had for gotten about the fake CHP car. There was all kinds of opinion about it. Some said that it caused accidents, because it was distracting.

spyrock said...

i don't know anything about the heartbreak hotel. but my aunt ruth who is 100 years old answered some of my questions about the old days. she said
absolutely grandma laura was not indian. but her grandson howard used to tease her that she was and she told him that she'd take a tomahawk to him. she said, please don't say she was indian.
when the simmerlys first moved to covelo, they lived on top of the ridge on the east side of covelo.
they had a live and let live relationship with george white. so they got along ok with him.
she said the story about weck mcpherson who was a sherrif in covelo killing kate simmerlys half sister martha as told in genocide and vendetta is pure baloney.
she said that our ancestors got along better than most with the indians and they left each other alone.
she was very interested in me finding rachel drennan john simmerlys grandmother's roots in ireland. i later found out that the drennans were probably scotch irish because they lived in antrim ireland which is 20 miles from scotland and james the first of scotland gave that land to the scots 250 years ago. they were the first protestants in ireland. when the catholic church began persecuting them in the middle 1700's thousands of them moved to america in pennsylvania, the cumberland valley near the shawnee.
she also said that we are difinitely NOT jewish.
if anyone has any questions, i will send them to her. i did ask if she knew any leggetts for river.

Stephen said...

Having worked at Hartsook I felt the loss of the place to Save the Redwoods League that sorta destroyed the continuity of the place as a beautiful resort in the redwoods. I had a plan for its revival using the romance of the name in securing romantic getaways all through the year by running constant ads in travel magazines. Heartwood can't ever revive the Hartsook Inn's glory days because it's just another business enterprise for entrepreneurs, counterculture yuppie-centered ones training people to serve the dwindling population of pot rich hippies in Heartwood's case..

Jack Durham said...

My experience at the Hartsook was surreal. It was in the late 1980s, or early 1990s. I stopped in for a late lunch. It was very elegant. I was the only one in the dining room, except for a guy playing the piano. All of a sudden I heard yelling. A man in an apron came out of the kitchen. He was followed by a fellow wearing a chef's hat and holding a large knife. The chef and the man with the apron yelled and cursed at each other. The chef yelled "I'm going to fucking kill you." The piano man kept on playing. The two men came and went from the kitchen, yelling and cursing. It was a great show. The food was OK, but was clearly missing every chef's favorite ingredient: love.

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,Thanks for the history about the Inn!! I always wondered about it. Traveled past it many many times in the fifties.
My grandparents worked at Lanes flat in the forties.
Grundy's is another place with some history,I'll bet?

Dave Stancliff said...

My wife and I went to the Hartsook inn in 1988.
Like Jack, we were suprised that we were the only customers. It was weird. The food wasn't memorable, but my wife loved the views around there.
Looks like we missed out on what might have been an ongoing war between the chef and a guy in a yellow apron. Also missed out on the piano player.

skippy said...

An outstanding history and memory, Ernie. Thank you.

Robin Shelley said...

I did try to eat at Hartsook once in the mid-1980s. A couple of friends were visiting from Kansas & we spent the day at Richardson Grove & swimming in the Eel. We stopped at Hartsook for a late lunch but were told by a man in a white apron that dinner wouldn't be served for another couple of hours. I remember how our footsteps echoed through the room as we walked across the floor.

omr said...

I have woken up with Hartsook coffee in a nearly deserted dining room many many mornings and have a soft spot for the place, and its waitresses.

There is a lot of history in that area. I was given a story from a long time local who remembered events from the 1920's.
When the place burnt down in 1927, it was in the off season and the fastest way to rebuild for the summer trade was to hire Chinese. Perhaps unaware of the unofficial Humboldt County policy of no Asians, the Hartsooks did hire a Chinese crew. When the unions up north got wind of it, they drove down and took the Chinese to the Mendocino border at gunpoint, and white people were hired to rebuild the Hartsook. Unions were fierce.
Times were different back then.

The list of celebrities who stayed at the Hartsook might not rival the Benbow Inn's list, but was extensive. I think I saw a list there once.

Ben said...

I worked for a retired fellow from Miranda who had actually worked for the old man at the end of his life. He maintained that Hartsook had a terrible problem with alcohol and that his wife stayed in San Francisco while he was up here.
Back when Richard Head had the place the hotel was host to a group of healthcare executives from all over Northern California. I attended some of the workshops and was amused to see how flabbergasted everyone was that there were no telephones! No cell phone service back then either. They were outraged and rushed off periodically to the pay phone at the 76 station.

Ernie Branscomb said...

It is sad to hear all of the bad experiences in the dining room. As to myself, I’ve had nothing but very good experiences there. The Soroptimist club, that my wife belonged to, held a “Fashion Show” there every year. Foxy Threads and a few other clothing stores would supply the fashions. Tickets for admittance were sold. The place was always jam-packed. This was while under the management of Julie Willows. It was considered to be a private party and there was alcohol there. A good time was always had by all.

My first year as president of the Garberville Rotary club I was given a budget to do my year project. It was a bill for $500.00. We had donated a wheelchair to the hospital and it hadn’t been paid for yet. At our board meeting Roy Heider and Bob Smith jokingly suggested that we raffle a S-10 Chevy truck. I took them seriously and told them to do it. We paid $10,000.00 for the truck and we sold tickets in the amount of $20,000.00. We netted about $8,000.00. It was the most that the Garberville Rotary club had ever made up until that point. We spent most of it on the local schools.

We only lost one member who quit because he claimed that it was “Gambling”. I told him it was no gamble, it was a sure thing… I don’t think that he took it well.

We held the raffle party at the Hartsook Inn. Dan Healy did the sound. He was a Garberville Rotarian at that time. I had brought him into the club. Dan was a sound man for The Grateful Dead. The Hartsook was completely filled with dining tables and we Made a stage in the walkway between the dining room and the lobby. I think that Monroe Tobin won the truck. It was a pretty exciting event. Kenny Wallan was one of the entertainers. He dressed up as “Josephene” and did a comedy skit. His second act, he did in a heavy Swedish accent and he told about getting bricks off a roof. That is the first time that I found out that you can actually laugh yourself to death. I laughed so hard that I couldn’t get my breath, I had to push my face back into place because it was so distorted with laughter. I had tears actually streaming down my face. My ribs hurt for two days.

More below………….

Ernie Branscomb said...

Kenny Wallen had a charter bus company at the time and provided transportation from the Hartsook to Garberville where most of the out-of-town guests had motel rooms. There was drinking involved.

As we pulled into Garberville, it was apparent that the whole northwest corner of Garberville was on fire. The Southern Humboldt Building Supply (Where the Bootleg is now) and the Branding Iron Saloon was on fire. I fought the fire in the tuxedo that I had on until my wife brought me my fire turn-out clothes. When I took the tux back to the rental place, I offered to pay for it. The man behind the counter said: “Are you kidding? You should see how these things come back after a wedding. No extra charge”.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ben
It's funny that you would mention the phone. There was ONE PHONE. They kept it in the office off of the lobby. If you needed to make a call real bad, they would let you, but they had to be right there because it was also the countin' house.

omr said...

Great stories Ernie!

Kym said...

Thank you for these memories. I loved reading them.

Charlie Two Crows said...

Went to the Hart on Oct.18 71 for my birthday with a french girl from Ukiah. Was told they didn't serve hippies or indians. So we had a better time in Garberville, havin burgers.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Sorry to hear that Charlie. We have come a long ways since 1971. It is a sad commentary on 1971, but far better than 1861.

I think that I could understand if they didn't want to serve someone for a good reason. But "Indian" is not one of them. I know some awfully good hippies and some awfully good Indians.

If it makes you feel any better Some places of that era didn't allow children either.

Robin Shelley said...

We ran a story in the Laytonville paper once about Benbow Inn not allowing children... titled it, of course, "No Room at The Inn?" I'm glad now that I didn't visit Hartsook during that era... SOBs! Glad you had a good time anyway, Charlie... I love hamburgers!

Ben said...

Charlie... Sorry to hear that ugly story. I was once asked to leave the Benbow Inn back in those days but I didn't have a date with me so it was fairly painless. I didn't go back for about ten years but then, I had no problem. Now rednecks wear beards and ponytails and we've all intermarried and have to be polite 'cause we share grandchildren.

Charlie Two Crows said...

The ironic twist to my story is ; They thought the French girl was indian and thought I was the hippie.HA HA
Back then the locals just called us Long Hair!

suzy blah blah said...

They thought the French girl was indian and thought I was the hippie.

-LOL!

spyrock said...

65-67 i was required to take rotc at the school i went to. the first two reasons i had to go to haight street were to go to my bank of america and to get a hair cut. it was also where i bought surfer magazine and pepsi. so i had short hair all through that time and the first people who gave me a hard time were the people who identified themselves as hippies but whose hair length wasn't much different that my own. of course, some of them were on drugs and i guess they assumed because i wasn't that i was worthy of their contempt. charlie was one of those that stopped me on the street and called me a boozwazee pig as i have already related on this blog. at the same time, i would go home and have to listen to my red neck relatives blame me for everything they read in the newspaper. so i was getting it from the far right and from the far left. so i never considered myself a hippie. i was on more of a beatnik surfbum music appreciation trip. we had a few firsts. the first skateboarders on haight steet back in 66. the first surfers to wear booties back in 66. to keep our fins on in the heavy ocean beach surf. we used to get laughed at over skateboarding by the "cool" hippies. and the surfers in those days were real proud of those huge knotts on their feet and legs from surfing without a wet suit.
then on my trip with my first wife to michigan, i stopped at a bar in missouri to buy a pack of newports and some local asked me if i wanted to have sex or fight. me thinking it was a gay bar, excused myself as quick as possible and proceeded to michigan where all the hippies still had short hair. so i partied with bob segars silver bullet band all of whom had a day job and shorter hair than mine. they were into slamming shots of tequila with salt and lime. but i remember back in 71 visiting my cousins in ukiah and they were pretty wild boys for ukiah in those days. we all looked exactly alike. and they were oc local. original californians. so thats what i am.
5goc.

Anonymous said...

All I remember about Grundy's is ol' man Grundy had a double barreled 410. Wish I had that gun today, some go for up to $60,000.00

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

Gramma Ruby had a 410-22 over and under. Nice little girl gun.

charlie two crows said...

Boozwazee pig ;Never!
TWINK! Fur-sure Dude!

Ross Sherburn said...

Speaking of guns. Ernie I've Emailed you twice about a certain item.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Ross, I have trouble getting reply's with e-mails from a certain blogger myself. LOL

Oregon

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, I know, but here are 8 Post Office locations scheduled for closure within 6 months:

Blocksburg
Honeydew
Kneeland
Phillipsville
Redcrest
Samoa
Weott
Zenia

More work for you, Ernie?

--Greg

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
I want the conversation piece, but I don't know what to pay. I know that you are a nice guy and all, but I just want to be fair.

All you people picking on me.... My wife makes me work sometimes.

Greg
Thanks for the PO info, I took to the newspaper people. They said that they are "on it". There is no "off topic" here.

Sadly we will continue to spiral in until somebody gets the clue that we need jobs in America. No jobs, no recovery. Simple!

Ross Sherburn said...

Thanks Oregon,I was almost too chicken sheet to post it!!! LOL!



Ernie,I'll get back with you.........!

spyrock said...

i actually saw charlie with short hair. he sort of looked like a nerdy prince valient with zitz and really short bangs. or punk for short. he had just been let out of prison about 2 months before. i remember him being someone like an institutionalized child molester with a napoleanic complex. there are lots of people like him on the streets these days. back then he was what we called a "ripoff" artist. someone who knows how to rip energy.

Ben said...

Oregon... Thanks for mentioning Grundy's. I have been trying for years to remember the name of that place and failing... old age, I guess. I drive by there once or twice a month and now my mind will be free from the obsessive question: "What was the name of that place?" I remember all the trucks... must have had pretty waitresses...

Ross Sherburn said...

Anyone remember an old Resort,maybe around Legget, That was called the Hermitage???

Ben,Ernie??


Thanks!

spyrock said...

i found a ghost town named hermitage about 6 miles east southeast of yorkville in mendocino county. In the extreme southern portion of the Township is a settlement called
Hermitage, so named by S.W. Knowles, who settled there in 1858, bringing a
drove of cattle from Sonoma. He raised the first hops in Mendocino County,
drying them in the loft of his barn and selling the dried hops in Petaluma for
thirty cents a pound. Hermitage is not even a hamlet, but a continuation of farms along the narrow valley on the headwaters of Dry Creek.
there was a post office there for a long time. that's all i could find

olmanriver said...

There is a Buddhist retreat center in Leggett... could it's previous name have been the Hermitage? Just guessing, never read anything.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Okay, Okay... I'm back.
The "Hermitage" that Ross referred to was located on the South Fork of the Eel River, at the confluence of Rattlesnake Creek and the South Fork of the Eel, about 2 miles downstream of Cummings California, and about three miles upstream of Big Bend Lodge. It was a popular fishing and hunting resort. They had cabins to rent. There is a nice flat alongside the river that it was all located on. The last time that I drove through there was about ten years ago. There was still a building of some kind left there.

There was/is a Catholic summer camp located about two miles up the south fork, toward Branscomb.

The name of the camp is Camp St. Michael's. I used to do the refrigeration there, and the road took me right through "The Hermitage". This history stuff is fun!

Anonymous said...

You like history Ernie, give the lowdown on Moody I think we called it. On Andrasonia (sp) West of Dimmicks mill in Piercy.

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

My Dad bought the Hermitage at some point in time?? Probably in the late forties??
He bought it to log off the timber,not the Resort value!

Ross Sherburn said...

Oregon,"Moody"rings a bell also?
Wasn't he a CPA in Garberville???

Anonymous said...

Ross, I was talking about the town of Moody. I think it was a stage stop back before highway 101 was in.

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

I'd like to know more about the stages/times the 101 was put thru the area. like from SF to Eureka!!!

charlie two crows said...

Can someone tell me about the town of Jet Dry in upper bear river. Did this town have a post office? My postal book does not list it. I also have questions about the stage lines. Did the stage follow the coast to mattole then come inland? Or did it follow the EEl river. Jack told me the stage from eureka went to center ville after stopping in fern dale. Jack said the stage went down the beach and came to a stage stop at there mazeppa ranch then on the wild cat route to mattole then inland. Does any one have info. On this stage line.

Cyd Vicious said...

I traveled the Redwood Highway from Santa Barbara to Myrtle Creek, OR for 13 years straight, starting in the late 70's, and more than once, my husband and I stayed at the Hartsook. I liked the restaurant; very quiet! I remember the wood floors. My best memory, though, is of waking up very early every morning in our cabin and looking out the window at the deer. They were so close you could touch 'em. It was so exciting for us and the kids. Just loved that place...:)))

Anonymous said...

I lived in the hartsook inn in the early 90's my dad was the maintenance guy. It is a beautiful place with lots of outdoor activities. I am planning on a return visit with my family. I remember when richard head owned it he was my dads boss. Thank u for the hostory ernie.

Darel Gene Mattocks said...

Just a few corrections to your story regarding Hartsook Inn. The Lingenfelters that owned the Inn were Darel (not Darrell) and Florence. Dorothy was one of their two daughters -- Bonnie was the other. My mother, Jeanne (Lingenfelter) Mattocks was a first cousin of Darel's and I am named after Darel -- my name is Darel Gene Mattocks. I worked at Hartsook Inn in the summers of 1958 thru 1963 as I went thru college.
It was a great job!! I was a combination Bellhop, Desk Clerk and Cashier.
Met a few celebrities, including Walt Disney and his brother Roy and their wives and actor Robert Young and his wife.
Also met alot of young ladies from the Eureka area that came down to work as maids during the summer. Enjoyed many nights of square dancing at French's next door. Mrs French was a sister of Florence Lingenfelter.
Bonnie Lingenfelter's husband Bill Starz was the Chef at the Inn for awhile.
Many wonderful memories!!

Anonymous said...

Stayed there for a few days during our honeymoon in July 1982. My husband bought me a sterling silver rings with a pink abalone stone in it from their gift shop. We swam in the eel river. Wonderful place .

Bonnie
Ottawa, Canada