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Caspar Timeline

<Pictorial History              
As early as 3,000 BCECarbon-dated evidence of First Peoples in Pine Grove (Caspar South).
~1850Maybe someone named Siegfried Caspar arrived here somehow. About the same time, the Frolic wrecked off Caspar South, and fortune-hunters from San Francisco discovered the Redwoods.
1864-1865A village of 1,000 grows up around Captain Jackson’s merchandise stores. Civilization arrives: George Heldt opens the first saloon.
1878-1880During May 1878, nine schooners were loaded with 1,062,000 board feet of assorted lumber bound for San Francisco. Starting ox teamster’s wages: $70/month. In May 1879, Caspar Lumber Company began construction of their brick Company Store. The store opened in November. The Baptist Church was built. By 1880, there were two stores, two hotels, a livery stable, three saloons, a shoe-and-boot store, a blacksmith shop. S. R. Wade was postmaster and telegraph operator.
1882According to Ann & Edward Connor's Caspar Calling, 23 boys and 26 girls enrolled in Caspar School, average daily attendance 36%.
April 1884Plans are laid for the Caspar and Hare Creek Railroad's Jughandle Trestle, 700 feet long and 140 feet above the creek.
1904Coastal schooners transport more pounds of potatoes than redwood lumber from Caspar.
April 1906Earthquake destroys Jughandle Trestle.
Jughandle Trestle after the Quake
Jughandle Trestle before and after
Jughandle Trestle before the Quake    After the Quake
1955Caspar Lumber Company's mill ceases operations, and Caspar becomes a 'friendly ghost town.' The Company's many inheritors (something in excess of 30 families) designate a manager, Harry Wakerley, and a headquarters that also served as the 95420 Caspar Post Office under the motherly management of Georgia Johnson.
1986Casparados 1986
Caspar begins to awaken – Casparados gather at the Post Office for a “class photo.” That's Frank and Georgia left of the column. If you're in this photo, let us know where!  
April 1987Fire in the Gorse
1989The Caspar Lumber Company lands are purchased by a Mendocino County resident, renamed the Caspar Cattle Company, and the process begun secretly to subdivide the property along the lines of similar coastal properties north of Mendocino town and along the Oregon Coast.
Late Fall, 1990Stuart Tregoning, second generation Casparado, sounds the alarm that we are about to lose our town to rampant development.
Early 1991Judy and Jim Tarbell, Patty Madigan, Peter Wells, Stuart Tregoning, Vince Taylor, Gene Parsons, Ken Clark, Rochelle Elkan, and Michael Potts gathered together to discuss what might be done to preserve our village.
1991-1997Informal meetings, often potluck dinners at the Tarbells, discuss many various paths to save the parts of our village we treasure -- the undeveloped space west of Caspar Road, the schoolhouse, the pond. Meetings also took place around a long table at What's Afoot Gallery (now Caspar Curiosities). Unfortunately, much of the history from this period wasn't recorded.
March website was begun, sponsored by StringBender and Mendocino Coast Network.
August 1997At a potluck gathering at Tarbell's, a dozen Casparados "got serious", agreed that our values included consensus and inclusiveness, and called for a public meeting "where the interested residents of Caspar can work to align their visions."
September 1997A series of meetings takes place at the Caspar Jewish Community Center (CJCC). With guidance from Grail Dawson and Betty Barber, we agree to work by consensus. Out of the meeting comes general agreement on development versus protection, a strategy for financing our wishes, and a declaration of intention to form a Community Service District with "a central plaza, underground powerlines, water and sewage, environmentally sensitive wildlife and wetland preservation, and development of a sense of community."
October 1997Another scoping session at CJCC confirmed our commitment to proceeding by consensus. Judy Tarbell offered to enlist "the internationally known community design team of Randy Hester and Marcia McNally" professors of community development at University of California Berkeley (UCB) in a study of available development alternatives to help us decide how to be most effective as a community trying to preserve its values.
February 1998Our village adopts eight Landscape Architecture graduate students from UCB. Saturday morning, they and a group of 10 Casparados walk the town. On Sunday afternoon we meet again with Randy and the students, fill out questionnaires, brainstorm possible maps, and identify our "sacred spaces."
April 1998On April 2nd, a standing room only crowd of 60 in the What's Afoot Gallery heard Professor Hester's group's presentation of eight possibilities for Caspar including an Open Space plan, A Do-It-Yourself plan, an Eco-Village plan, and a Maximum Sprawl plan. A Finance Working Group convened by Vince Taylor met three times to prepare a proposal for a community meeting called for April 26th. About 30 Casparados attended the meeting, ably moderated by Jerry Juhl, who said 'We're a community, and we'll all need to do what we can. I'm moderating because it's my turn.' The difficulty of making group decisions was examined, and it was agreed we needed to meet at least once more to consider the eight plans, and determine how to handle our money. Peter Wells advised, 'Bring your checkbooks.'
May 1998A smaller group gathered and selected a Steering Committee -- Patty Madigan, Meridian Green, Judy Tarbell, Vince Taylor, Ken Clark, Michael Potts, Peter Wells, and Mike Dell'Ara -- who agreed to meet on Friday mornings as long as necessary. Vince Taylor asserted that "even those of us with jobs need to make time for this, because preserving our village is important work."
Summer 1998Caspar came together in a series of productive Sunday community meetings to confirm the work of the every-Friday Steering Committee, often followed by volleyball and potlucks. During this period, three of the plans were selected for development.
On September 13th, nearly 100 Casparados heard Professor Hester's explanation of the plans, from which was distilled a Principal Plan. Vince Taylor announced that $23,000 had been raised to proceed with community development. Incorporation and the hiring of a coordinator were suggested.
October 1998A street fair style Gorse Festival with music and food was held, followed by a Community Meeting where presentation of the principal plan to the County Board of Supervisors was endorsed. The first Hallowe'en Parade was held in Caspar. This event continued for many years and was much beloved by coast children and parents.
November 1998At a Community Meeting, UCB's Susana Morais presented the final version of the Principal Plan.
December 1998Steering Committee present the plan to the Supervisors and again to the Planning Commission. The plan is graciously received, and County officials commit to including Caspar Community in any local actions. On a rainy Sunday, 21 hardy Casparados gather around the roof leak buckets at What's Afoot to hear the presentation.
January 1999After the monthly Community Meeting, where Roger Sternberg consulted with the community on the upcoming takeover of Caspar Beach by the Mendocino Land Trust, many attendees adjourned to the Caspar Inn where Meridian Green, John Chamberlin, Lennie Lax, Antonia Lamb, Gene Parsons, and Judy Mahan made music.
March 4, 1999Caspar Community officially incorporated. Trust for Public Land agrees to help Caspar protect the Headlands, and sends Andrew Vesselinovitch to help.
Spring & Summer 1999Monthly Community Meetings continue -- February, priorities like ocean access and traffic calming; March, Trust for Public Land offers to help negotiate purchase of the headlands. A group of California Legislators visit Caspar Beach for a presentation of Caspar's Principal Plan. April meeting discusses use of the Headlands (no canvas/plastic ghetto! Caspar for locals, not tourists) and walks the Headlands. May: Caspar's little known history. After each meeting, music.
May 1999Caspar first appears on outsiders’ radar – Los Angeles Times: Visionaries Seek to Turn Village Into Utopia – and Italy’s La Republica: La città più 'verde'? How did they find us?
September-October 1999Judy Tarbell updates the community on the effort to acquire the Headlands at a Community Annual Meeting, The Second Annual Gorse Festival fills the Village Square with music and crafts, and Jerry Juhl leads the Hallowe’en Parade. The CasparCommons website engages friends from all over who lobby legislators to approve the purchase of the Headlands. In Sacramento, one Southern California legislator asks the delegation from Caspar, “What of the opposition?” Opposition? we wonder; far as we know, there isn’t any. “Unprecedented,” remarks the legislator. “How did you manage that?”
December/January 1999-2000Y2k, Me Worry Party! Our first New Years Eve at the Company Store. Unexpectedly, the world did not grind to a halt. Everyone pitched in after midnight, and the place was clean and everyone was home by 1am.
January - May 2000Under the aegis of Wade Gray, Caspar discusses alternative housing options; Mary Flannery-Kraut and others consider emergency readiness; a drizzly Gorse Work Day is capped by the Gorse Grubber’s Ball with Danny Barca and the Funk Shui Band. Caspar meets to plan the uses of the Headlands, and again to discuss calming traffic with CalTrans. On Mother’s Day, Casparados gather to discuss “the next 100 years.”
Late May 2000The California Coastal Commission approves a major land purchase along the North Coast, an initiative largely led by Casparados
June - September 2000Caspar encourages agriculture at a meeting led by Caspar native Stuart Tregoning. The September Annual Meeting features a review of Caspar’s rich history; Board President Mike Dell’Ara writes, “I’m looking forward to a neighborly exchange of stories.” the Westport and Navarro Headlands are preserved along with Caspar’s, solidifying Caspar Community’s relationship with its conservation partners. A celebration dinner is held at Mendo Bistro.
Hallowe’en 2000Halloween Parade 2009
At sunset, Gertie the Gorse Monster and top-hatted parade master Jerry Juhl lead 300 costumed celebrators – “goblins, mummies, fairies, dogs, clowns, witches, dragons, ballet dancers, and of course a couple of Harry Potters” – were chased by Caspar the Ghost.
December 2000Caspar’s first Newsletter includes a priceless “Bulletin from the Future” by Belva Deare: “Your correspondent always gets misty when thinking about the differences between Caspar and the Rest of the World where pavement covers all and every rooftop produces grain and rice. We are so lucky to eat meals made with fruits and vegetables out of a greenhouse rather than staples from a foodfax. And to celebrate under a roof that still echoes from our ancestors celebrating a century ago!” Concerned Caspar Citizens organize to protest a clear-cut on parcels at the end of Fern Creek Road.
2001Caspar is so busy acquiring the Schoolhouse and the Headlands that it forgets to write anything down.
January-April 2002Recognizing Caspar’s centrality on the Coast, several groups and agencies gather to share their plans for the future at the last Community Meeting before the Schoolhouse is acquired. A work party at the Schoolhouse precedes the first meeting there in February, where the workings of a Community Center are discussed. US Department of Agriculture funds Caspar Community to purchase the Community Center, and it opens on April 1st.
May 2002Caspar Headlands officially becomes part of the California State Parks at a ceremony that includes State Senator Wes Chesbro, Marty Rosen (president of the Trust for Public Land), Roger Sternberg and Julia McIver (Mendocino Land Trust). Judy Tarbell recalls, “Roger and Jerry and Susan Juhl lead Gertie the Gorse Monster from the Headlands to the Center complete with bagpipes and dogs!” Caspar residents (the Concerned Citizens) are instrumental in passing AB671 and limiting timberland conversion, and (through Vince Taylor’s Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest) prevail on the California Department of Forestry to halt logging and rewrite the forest plan. A verbal agreement with Caspar Cattle Company exchanges our help moving extincted development opportunities for our Village Square.
August 2002Outsiders notice what’s happening in Caspar – the New York Times writes “Coastal Village Preserves Its Nature”: “If California is the land of self-reinvention, Caspar could be its unofficial capital.” In unintentional confirmation, Bruce Anderson, mean-spirited editor of the Anderson Valley Yellow Press, writes, “uninspiring efforts to essentially become a gated community for rich old hippies…”
October 2002Caspar holds a charrette “to consolidate recent successes and prepare for the future” under the ringmastership of Professor Randy Hester. The meeting is followed by a potluck dinner. The Bioneers hold a satellite meeting in Caspar. A storytelling event organized by “Oasis” Darryl Hasten is added to Caspar’s Hallowe’en festivities, the third annual parade, a haunted schoolhouse and dancing to Kevin and the Coconuts.
November - December 2002Caspar starts thinking seriously about the village’s aging water system. Mike Dell’Ara “Water is one of Caspar's treasured resources.“The Usual Suspects” hold an Art Expo at What’s Afoot Gallery. UC Plans for Caspar are presented by “the Charrette Group” at a December community meeting. BBC discovers Caspar: “The Casparados forged themselves into a community and put together a master plan for Caspar that looks ahead for the next 100 years. They were determined to protect their stunning environment.”
New Years Eve 2002-2003¡Mambo This! kicks off the New Year with hors d’oeuvres and dancing at the Center.
January - May 2003Planning begins for the first Caspar World Folk Festival; the Community Center celebrates its first birthday; the monthly Community Meeting confronts invasive exotics, Gorse, Eucalyptus.
August - October 2003The Caspar World Folk Festival comes off without a hitch, hosting sixteen world class groups and musicians, helped along by Micky Zeckley and Lark Camp. The fourth Hallowe’en Parade is again led by Gertie and Jerry. August – October 2004: Community Center front garden dedicated to Mike & Ruth Dell’Ara in recognition of their help acquiring Headlands and Center. A dance and parade celebrate Caspar’s enthusiasm for Hallowe’en.
November 2004An early evening “fun-raiser” featuring a silent auction with the purpose to “make enough money to paint the north room” recognizes the Center’s success. Administrator Dalen Anderson writes, “We've had CD release parties, English country dances, swing dances, slide shows, and a few weddings. The North Coast obviously needs what the Center provides.”
Spring 2005Caspar Cattle Company lands officially go up for sale. Joe Craven comes to Caspar. Sea Lions hold a convention in Caspar Anchorage. Caspar’s photovoltaic roof is approved. Susan and Jerry Juhl present “A Career with Frogs and Bears” and Paul Reiber renders a talk, "Chisels, Chairs, and Household Deities."
Autumn 2005The Community reaches out to victims of Hurricane Katrina, paraphrasing JFK: “We are ALL Casparados.” Caspar loses its own Pied Piper, commemorating Jerry Juhl in a tent in the Village Square wearing Groucho glasses.
June 2007OpenRoad.TV focuses on Caspar
August 2008a crew of Casparados builds the cob oven, and the mirrors go up in the South Room. An evening of traditional Hawaiian food, music, and dance features Kevin Brown, Robyn Mahealani Kneubuhl and Hui Arago.
September 2008The 6th annual CasparFest draws a big crowd of coastal residents and visitors. A plan to reduce the Eucalyptus grove blocking the ocean from the town and increasing our USDA loan to build the kitchen are discussed at the Community Meeting.
December 2008Caspar dedicates its mail pavilion to Jerry Juhl. The Community Garden is launched, and agreement is reached to remove the Eucalyptus fire hazard.
Spring 2009USDA loan approved, and permit negotiation with Mendocino County begins, the Eucalyptus are turned into firewood and sold to benefit Caspar Community. Charles Bush leads a Backcasting workshop to envision Caspar’s future. Rhoda Teplow writes, “The land belongs to no one. We, Casparados, are just guests.”
August 2009Economic downturn touches Caspar, possibly affecting expansion plans. Casparados gather to recalibrate. The Community Garden thrives.
2010Apparently we were again too busy to write anything down. The 8th CasparFest seems to have taken place.
Summer 2011Gertie wins gold at the Mendocino Fourth of July Parade. Kitchen and Sunroom addition built. The 9th CasparFest and the new kitchen opens with Men Cooking.
2013Annual Harvest Dinner and New Years Eve Gala Dance Party . The Community Garden continues to thrive. December sees the last snail mail Newsletter .
February 2014Sustainable Caspar gathering learns that its name is outmoded; keynoter Asher Miller tells us “the sustainable ship has sailed. Now on, it’s about resilience.” A Winter Market is held at the Center on Wednesdays.
Spring 2014Caspar UkeFest, Marty Johnson’s Canning Classes, Casparados continue to try to buy the Cattle Company lands that continue to be overpriced and won’t sell. Wells go dry.
June 2014Real Estate Magazine - Resilient Villages features Caspar as its model.
Summer-Fall 2014The drought intensifies, and more Caspar wells dry up. Neighborhood meetings discuss mutual help. Emergency Preparedness gets another look, and the Annual Harvest Dinner is “Salmon Chanted Evening.” The Solar Roof project goes live. Under Betty Goldfarb’s patient pressure, CalTrans agrees to make the Caspar Road crossing safer eventually.
Winter 2015Music abounds! Joe Craven’s Mamjowali and Alice DiMicele both sing to us in February. The Coast endures a major wintertime power outage during Mamjowali, but the Center’s lights stay bright due to the solar roof and generator . A second round of neighborhood meetings. The Caspar Dump removal project begins.
Spring 2015Mothers Day Tea, and the Caspar Readiness Barrel project begins under the encouragement of Ellen Buechner. UkeFest again. Choro das Tres plays for us. Fort Bragg Postmaster continues the war on Caspar.
July 2015Gertie returns to the Mendocino Fourth of July Parade. CasparFest - we have lost count which one.
Autumn-December 2015Meetings, Pub Nights, Harvest Dinner, 4th Sunday Breakfasts. The Mixed Nuts play our New Years Eve Dance Party.
Winter-Spring 2016Music! Joe Craven & the Sometimers CD Release Celebration, UkeFest, Gene Parsons, Gwyneth Moreland, and Steven Bates. Gorse Warriors defeat a giant Gorse patch on the Headlands. Tibetan Monks bring their Sand Mandala.
Winter 2016-Spring 2017Harvest Dinner and New Years Dance with The Mixed Nuts. Community Meeting discusses Emergency Preparedness and water. First Pop-Up Dance Parties. Caspar’s most active neighborhood, Road 409, cleans up and gets a fire station. Caspar considers the next big step – owning its water – and steps back due to onerous State requirements.
Autumn-December 2017CalTrans plans to work on the Crossing, reduces theoretical speed to 45. Harvest Dinner features a Gorse Cocktail. Caspar Prepared acquires trailer and holds CERT classes.
October-December 2019Jima Abbott and Paul Reiber launch Caspar’s Little Free Library. The Barn (garage) is renovated. Harvest Dinner, New Years Eve planned featuring Mama Grows Funk.
2020Covid shuts the Center, but expenses continue. Center gets painted and kitchen floor restored. Major Gorse clearing boths sides of Highway One. Online auction. No New Years Party.
2021Covid continues. A few outdoor gathering in Summer. Second Online Auction raises nearly $7k to help support our closed Center. Makers and Bakers Holiday Fair. No New Years Party.
20224th Sunday Breakfasts and in-person Community Meetings resume.
2023CasparFest comes back. Harvest Dinner and Makers & Bakers.
2024Beaujolais Reunion with Margaret Fox benefit for Caspar Community is a HUGE success.

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