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Destination:
Healdsburg, California

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Introduction


for information:
Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitor's Bureau
217 Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-6935
Toll Free:
(800) 648-9922
Fax: (707) 433-7562
Thousands of years ago, this beautiful, lush area called Healdsburg was home to the Pomo Indians. These early residents built their village in the open, fertile valleys along the Russian River. They hunted the elk, bears, and mountain lions that roamed the dense oak and madrone forests along the meandering river. Occasional visits of European sailing vessels on the California Coast from the 1500's to early 1800's had little impact on the area.

The mid-1800's, however, brought new settlers. The Russians built Fort Ross on the coast, and the Mexican government established the vast 48,000-acre Rancho Sotoyome. This enormous land grant was awarded to sea captain Henry Delano Fitch in 1841. Fitch promptly hired trapper Cyrus Alexander to manage his bountiful rancho (the magnificent Alexander Valley is named for this early tenant). The California gold rush of 1849 brought itinerants, squatters, and failed miners to the more generous farming land here. Over the years, these squatters settled on the verdant land owned by the Fitch family. In 1857, a fight named the "Westside Road Wars" commenced among the squatters. One of the winners of this colorful conflict was Harmon Heald, an Ohio entrepreneur.

Officially incorporated in 1867, young Healdsburg prospered. Residents quickly constructed all the necessities of city life: a city hall, landscaped plaza, water mains, bridges, offices...even a public library. The long-awaited arrival of the Northwestern Pacific Railway in 1871 brought increased commerce and success.

Visitors can find more historical research at The Healdsburg Museum, founded in 1976 to house the historical collections donated to the city starting in the 1950's. This building, a beloved local landmark, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Healdsburg Museum is owned by the City of Healdsburg but is funded, managed, and operated by the volunteers of the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, which employs a full-time Curator. Collections, exhibits, a research library, and a gift shop are all housed in the museum, making for a great place to spend a few hours discovering more about this wonderful town. Free guided tours are available to groups by appointment.

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