Jack London State Historic Park

California, United States
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Jack London State Historic Park is a memorial to writer and adventurer Jack London, who made his home at the site from 1905 until his death in 1916. The park was once part of the famous writer's Beauty Ranch.

The park contains the cottage residence where he wrote books, short stories, articles and letters while he oversaw various agricultural enterprises. After London's death, his wife, Charmian, continued to live in the cottage until her death in 1955. It was her wish that the ranch be preserved in memory of Jack London and his work.
Park News Alert
Service Reductions are in place at this park. Please see the Operating Hours & Contact section for updated hours.
Getting There
The historic park is at 2400 London Ranch Road in Glen Ellen, about 20 minutes north of Sonoma.

The park's upper parking lot provides access to a picnic area, London's cottage, stables, stone barns, silos and "pig palace." The Kohler & Frohling winery ruins are near the cottage.

The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park.
Climate/Recommended Clothing
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.
Operating Hours & Contact
Nov. 2011:
Thursday - Monday, 10am-5pm
Closed: Tuesday & Wednesday

Beginning Dec. 2011:
Friday - Monday, 10am-5pm
Closed: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursdays

Museum Hours:
Thursday - Monday, 10am-5pm

Londons' Cottage Hours:
Saturday & Sunday, 10am-4pm

The park, including the Museum and the Londons' Cottage are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Please call the park for updated operating hours.

Telephone: 707-938-5216
Park Features
Eucalyptus Trees: Some of the 81,000 eucalyptus trees near Beauty Ranch are visible from the picnic area.

Sherry Barn: Constructed by Chinese laborers in 1884 for the Kohler and Frohling winery, the Sherry Barn became a stable for London’s highly prized purebred shire horses.

Stallion Barn: This barn housed six of London’s shire horses.

Manure Pit: In 1914 Jack London hired Italian stonemasons to build this pit to store fertilizer for later distribution in the fields. He also built an elaborate system to gather and store liquid fertilizer from his cow barn. Note the contrast in construction techniques between the protruding stones of the Italian-built structures and the flush stones of the Chinese-built winery buildings.

Cottage: Jack London purchased this wood-framed cottage and the old Kohler & Frohling winery buildings in 1911. The cottage was later enlarged to include about 3,000 square feet of living space. Jack’s study on the west side was added in 1914. Here he wrote many of his later stories and novels. The stone-walled east wing, originally part of the old winery, was used as a dining room. The glassed porch to the right of the front door is where Jack died on November 22, 1916.

Winery Ruins: The Kohler & Frohling Winery, heavily damaged by the 1906 earthquake, was used as a carriage house, living quarters for ranch hands and rooms for guests. A fire destroyed the wooden upper stories in 1965.

Terraced Hillside View: London’s steeper fields were graded into terraces to retain moisture and prevent erosion. Some of those original terraces are still being used today.

Distillery: This building was used by the ranch hands to store and repair farm equipment. The ruins of a blacksmith shop are on the west side.

Pig Palace: This unique piggery was designed by London and built in 1915. Laid out in a circle, its central feedhouse is circled by 17 pens. Each family of pigs had a courtyard with feed and water troughs, a roofed sleeping area and a fenced outdoor run.

Silos: These cement-block silos stand over 40 feet high. They once held fodder made from cut-up forage plants.

London Lake: About three-quarters of a mile up the trail beyond the silos, London built a curving stone dam with a shallow, five-acre lake. Featuring a redwood bathhouse, the lake was often enjoyed by the Londons and their guests.

Beyond the lake, the trail passes through madrone, Manzanita, redwood, Douglas fir, grassy meadows and oak woodland. The Valley of the Moon vista is visible just below the 2,463-foot summit of Sonoma Mountain. The strenuous 6.6-mile round trip takes about three hours. Please bring your own drinking water.

The House of Happy Walls:
Built by Charmian London between 1919 and 1926, this house is somewhat similar to Wolf House—the Spanish-style roof tiles and walls of fieldstone, for example—but is smaller and more formal. Charmian lived here when she was not traveling abroad or staying with relatives. After her death in 1955 at the age of 84, her will directed that the house be used as a memorial to Jack London and as a museum housing their collection of photographs and exhibits about London’s life and adventures.

Much of the house’s furnishings were designed by the Londons and custom built for Wolf House. The library contains equipment from London’s study. The rolltop desk, the Dictaphone and some other items appear in old photographs showing London at work.

Wolf House:
The trail to Wolf House is a little more than a half-mile long and slopes gently downhill. The one-mile round-trip takes an hour or more. The trail wanders through a beautiful mixed forest. Ferns, Manzanita and a wide range of other shrubs and small flowering plants thrive here, along with many kinds of birds and other forms of wildlife. The remains of Wolf House still remind visitors of Jack and Charmian’s original dream. Stone walls, complete with window openings, fireplaces and other details, appear little changed by the passage of time. It is easy to see how grand the house was intended to be.

Native materials were chosen and carefully matched to one another—boulders of maroon lava, unpeeled redwood logs outside and redwood paneling inside. The Spanish-style roof was dark red and matched the stone walls. The outdoor pool was to be stocked with mountain bass. Inside, there was a library and a large, isolated workroom for Jack. A fireproof vault in the basement was to house his collection of manuscripts and other valuables. The two-story living room had a massive fireplace and an alcove for Charmian’s grand piano. The dining room would have seated 50 people, and there were numerous guest rooms.

The house stood on an extra-thick concrete slab intended to be earthquake proof. Double-thick concrete walls were intended to be fireproof. Modern utility systems were installed, and every detail was of the highest quality, for money was no object. The house would have been magnificent.

The Grave Site:
Jack London’s ashes were placed on the little hill close beside the plain wooden headboards marking the graves of two pioneer children. The final ceremony was simple, attended only by a few members of London’s immediate family, his old friend George Sterling and workmen from the ranch. A small copper urn bearing his ashes was sealed within a specially made receptacle, and in Sterling’s own words:

“Amid the profound silence of the onlookers, a huge boulder—a great block of red lava long-pitted by time and enriched by the moss of uncounted years—was urged by roller and crowbar above the sepulcher.”

Then the party dispersed as quietly as it had gathered, the stillness making it a funeral impressive beyond all memory of those in attendance. No word, aside from a brief whisper, had been said. The thirteen strong men of the ranch faced the bearers of the remains in silence, and as silently departed.
Tips & Rules
Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails. Dogs are allowed on a leash in the Historic Area only. Dogs are not permitted beyond the silos or inside the museum.
Accessible Features
Exhibits/Programs
The House of Happy Walls is a visitor center/museum with a new wheelchair lift at the rear of the building.
Restroom: A portable restroom on the road to the wolf House is the only wheelchair accessible restroom regularly available to the public at this time.

Parking: The main parking area has three spaces designated accessible. Assistance may be required with slopes. The paved 400' route from the lot to the house may be accessible for assisted wheelchair users or strong riders. A golf cart driven by park volunteers provides alternate transportation for those who can transfer when arranged in advance with the park.
Restroom: A portable restroom in the picnic area is generally accessible.

The Cottage has been restored. A usable restroom may permit front transfers. Assistance may be needed on the path of travel from the parking area to the cottage entry.

Trails

Summary
Difficulty
Distance
London Lake Loop
Beauty Ranch and London Lake at Jack London State Historic Park
Easy
2.5 mi/
4.0 km
Guides
London Lake Loop
London Lake Loop
Jack London State Historic Park, California, United States
Easy: 2.5 miles, 1-3 hours
Beauty Ranch and London Lake at Jack London State Historic Park
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Jack London State Park
by tmeekins on Sep 03, 2011
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Who's Been There


Craig_H is the Guru of Jack London State Historic Park

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