Pat Neth


Cuddled between the gray whales spouting off shore and the majestic redwoods, cedars and pines to the east lies the little town of Elk, population around 200. Perched on a bluff overlooking a secluded beach dotted with sheltered coves and tunnel rocks carved by the ocean, the town was once a thriving port, a prosperous lumber industry and has a population 10 times as large as today's. The stock market crash of 1929 helped drive out the lumber industry and then a rash of fires destroyed many of the landmarks. Elk, once know as Greenwood, melted into obscurity.

Strolling through Elk you see Victorian homes built in the late 1800s, when lumber barons made fortunes cutting down redwoods and sending them by sea to San Francisco. By in the early 1970's, Elk had become a hippie stronghold. But the area has recently taken on an upscale tone, with fine dining available.

For history buffs, the Greenwood State Beach Visitors Center Museum in the middle of town (open weekends only) has an impressive collection of books and photographs, as well as a mural documenting Elk's history. There's little more than a scattering of historic structures. A huge iron bell still beckons worshipers on Sunday mornings to the 112 year old Methodist church. Elk was formerly known as Greenwood and parts of the town still cling to that name. Why it changed is unclear although it is rumored that it was the Post Office that changed the name to Elk. The surrounding area of Elk is some of the most lovely and unspoiled by development. The area is best known for the remarkable honey comb of arcs and tunnels in nearby off-shore islands. It's state-preserved beach is considered one of the cleanest in the county, with public access by a wide foot path to the shore. The residents of Elk are fully aware of the jewel in the midst and hope visitors will also enjoy, respect and preserve its beauty. Cattle still graze and rustic ranch buildings remain unpainted, adding to the rural feel of the area. Reminders of a time when there was a simpler way of life.

Office: 707/884-9000

Fax: 707/884-9003

Copyright by Patricia Neth © 2000–2005. All Rights Reserved