Historic Mill Bend

Mill Bend is located at the curve in the Gualala River just before it joins the sea. This beautiful location has a long and storied history.


The Original Stewards of Mill Bend

The Kashia Pomo people (also referred to as Kashaya) have a long presence in this region going back many centuries and are a crucial part of Mill Bend’s history. The natural beauty and fecundity of this area exist thanks to the care of the Kashaya people.

The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria states that “The Kashia lived in lands that extended from the Gualala River in the North to Duncan’s Point south of the Russian River… An estimated 1,500 people inhabited this area pre-contact, and migrated seasonally throughout this territory to take full advantage of the resources for their subsistence. By 1870, only 3 villages remained.” The place name Gualala comes from the Kashaya Pomo village name Walaali, which itself is from Qh awála-li, meaning “where the water goes down” – an apt name for a community at the mouth of the river.

The Logging Era

Logging swept the Mendonoma Coast in the 1800s and made drastic changes to this previously natural area. In 1862, a lumber mill was built in “China Gulch” as Mill Bend was known at that time. In 1868 a second mill known as Heywood’s Mill was built near the mouth of the river. The community of Gualala grew rapidly and coastal redwoods were quickly depleted. The mill operated for about 40 years until it was destroyed by a fire on September 14, 1906.


The photo at the top of the page shows the early ferry which was expensive and unpredictable for local residents. It became clear that a bridge was required and it was constructed in 1892.

RCLC Steps Up to Preserve this Historic Area

In 2017, two key parcels along the Mill Bend in the Gualala River became available for sale for the first time in over 60 years. RCLC and other local conservation groups formed the Mill Bend Coalition and worked to forever preserve the natural features of the scenic gateway to the Gualala River watershed.

A generous conservation buyer set up a Gualala River Park LLC to hold the property while RCLC raised the funds needed for its permanent protection. RCLC took the lead role in working with the conservation buyer and led the community effort to fund the purchase and stewardship of the property. The $2.7 million goal to purchase the property was reached in September, 2020. The property closed escrow in January, 2021.

RCLC recognizes the original stewards of Mill Bend and acknowledges the harm done unto them and unto the land in the name of “progress”.

We humbly work to preserve, restore and share this beautiful area with all who visit.