Greenwood/Elk, A Town With Two Names: The first settlers to come to the Elk area did not come to the area to log the redwoods, they came to hunt, trap or ranch the area. Among the first to come to the Elk area were, William Richardson, Francisco Faria, James Kenny, Orso Clift, Nathaniel Smith, and Britton Greenwood. It is Britton Greenwood's name from which Elk's second name Greenwood comes from. If it were not for another town named Greenwood first in California, Elk would be called Greenwood today. Many still call it Greenwood. Any discussion of early Elk can not be complete with out discussing Cuffey's Cove, located a mile or so to the north of Elk. By 1880, James Kenny had purchase land from several original settlers and owned on both sides of the main road (Howard Street & Hwy 1 today) from the gulch on the north side of the present day catholic cemetery to the gulch north of the Greenwood school. Basically, all the land between Cuffey's Cove and Greenwood.
In 1868 Kenny saw the possibility of a shipping point from which local produce and redwood products could be loaded on ship for San Francisco. By 1870 there were as many as 11 sailing vessels in the harbor and 80 tie teams hauling ties from surrounding camps. The hillsides and fields south of the cemetery were covered with ties. From this sprung up the town of Cuffey's Cove which preceded Greenwood.
While Cuffey's Cove prospered, other men besides Kenny started to think of building loading chutes. Fred Hemke built a chute just north of the Cuffey's Cove harbor for his saw mill two miles up Greenwood Creek. At Dinny Doyle's Point (now St. Anthony's Point) on the north end of Greenwood the Chism Chute was attempted. A third one in Li Foo's Gulch (on the north end of the present Greenwood State Park) was started, but not completed by Lorenzo E. White. Two miles south of Greenwood was the forth at Uncle Abe's Landing. None were successful.
The course of history was about to change when L.E. White bought 21 acres of land in Greenwood from his brother-in-law, J.S. Kimball. White complained about the shipping facilities in Cuffey's Cove and was determined to remedy the situation and build a sawmill on Greenwood Creek. White had built a railroad to carry his products to Cuffey's Cove and now all he needed was the chutes. He attempted to buy them for $40,000 but Mr. Kenny wanted $75,000. Undaunted, White began work with surveyors, laborers and seamen in Greenwood to find a suitable location of his own on his land. He proposed to build a steep incline from the cliffs to a wharf build along the rocks in Greenwood Cove. The project took two years to complete but was successful. The wharf lasted the lifetime of the mill he built at the mouth of Greenwood Creek. The success of this wharf basically put Cuffey's Cove out of business and the town drifted into history. Much of Cuffey's Cove packed up and moved to Greenwood.
This street scene looking north up Hwy 1 shows several historic buildings still present in Elk. Taken near the turn of the century (the last one), the hills behind Elk look very different than today lacking the tree covering. The far steeple belongs to the Greenwood Community Church still in use today. The next two buildings coming south, one with a flat roof and one with a gable roof are gone today. The next large white house with a sign hanging from the upstairs is the Old Hospital House looking today much like it does in this photo. The next house with the single attic window in the front still exists and sports an Elk Weather Vane given to Prue Wilcox by the makers of Elk Roof Shingles. The house next door is gone today and the house on the far right still stands.
This fine photo of the old lumber loading wharf shows the rail tracks used to load the ships. A beautiful wall mural of this scene can be seen today in the museum on Hwy 1. Lumber was hauled in cars by mule from above, now the state park, to the ships. The wharf burned after the closure of the lumber mills. Some wood pilings can still be seen today as well as the shelf cut into the rocks.
This unique shot is taken from the end of the wharf showing the utility buildings used for loading ships. The large building on the cliffs directly above the utility building is the old Greenwood School.
This shot of Greenwood Creek's old mill pond shows the logs being dropped into the pond off of rail cars. Men with jack screws "jacked" the logs off the cars. Another man then rode the log and pushed it with a pick pole into position for the mill. The sawed lumber was then loaded on to flat cars and pulled up the incline to the lumber yard near the company store where it was graded and made ready for shipping. Notice that each rail car carries one large log, a sight not seen anymore. The large house surrounded by a white fence it the present day Elk Cove Inn. The lumber mill is just around the corner behind the Elk Cove Inn building.
First a short chute and lighters were used. Later a larger chute was built that schooners could moor under loading the lumber directly onto the ship.
Charlie Li Foo, for whom the gulch is named just to the north of the state park in Greenwood, worked as a woodsman. Alone in the woods, a tree fell on him pinning his leg to the ground. After waiting and giving up hope of rescue, he took out his knife and "took care of business". After crawling into town, he recovered and changed occupations to the town barber.
St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church was built in 1880 at a cost of $3000 to replace an older, unsafe church. The new church with a 22 foot ceiling was situated in the present day cemetery high on a bluff over the sea. It was considered the most beautiful of the Catholic churches on the coast. It served the community until 1910 when Cuffey's Cove was largely deserted for Elk.
This is the entrance to the Cuffey's Cove Catholic Cemetary as it is today. Once the site of the Star of the Sea Church, it remains a beautiful place.
Few cemetaries are as scenic as this one. Visible in the distance is the Elk Coast stretching down to Bridgeport and Manchester.
Greenwood/Elk pictured in the late 1890's. Note the general abundance of buildings and people when compared to today. Sorry this image is big, but it is necessary to see the detail.
This photo, taken in June of 1999, shows the village of Elk in the present day. Taken from approximately the same location as the historic photo above. Notice that all of the lumber facilities are gone except for a few concrete foundations in the State Park. Some original buildings survive today. The town is home to less people than at the turn of the century. Modern coastal zoning and the difficulty of finding work make it difficult to expand the population of the area. I've shown this photo smaller than the one above to speed up loading of the page. It takes long enough as it is.
The Forth of July celebration was a yearly event in Greenwood enjoyed by young and old. The line of march for the parade was from Slotte's Hotel (the junction of Philo-Greenwood Road) north to the double bridge (between the Greenwood School and the Harbor House).