The Russian River Historical Society’s new 2020 calendar offers a fresh look at the past along the Russian River. The calendar’s dates include memorable moments in lower Russian River history such as the anniversaries of major floods — the New Year’s Day flood of 1997 is duly noted on January 1, along with the New Year’s flood of 2006.
With eleven January floods washing through Guerneville since 1881, January is by far the lower river’s most flood-prone month since modern records have been kept, with major high water recorded in 1881, 1895, 1943, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1995, 1997 and 2006.
In contrast February has seen five floods in modern recorded history, as noted in the calendar, most recently last year’s February 27 deluge that’s duly noted, along with the record-breaking February 18 Presidents’ Day flood of 1986.
The calendar’s February photo shows four young men dressed in what look like infantry uniforms and holding rifles. “Cadets at a military camp at Northwood, circa 1910,” says the caption.
Cadets in Monte Rio’s Northwood neighborhood? What were they doing there? Now known for its golf course?
“It was a military camp,” said Russian River historian John Schubert. “They were from a military boys academy out of the East Bay,” said Schubert, who credits Historical Society member Valerie Munthe for putting together the calendar using photos from Schubert’s extensive archives.
“I have a couple of thousand of them,” said Schubert.
The calendar’s January photo, also from Schubert’s collection, shows Guerneville covered with snow, a phenomenon that took place in 1916. In the photo a woman wearing a fur-collared coat and holding a snowball is standing on First Street across from the Italia Hotel, which is no longer there. Down the street a house at the corner of First and Church streets is recognizable as what is now River Lane Resort.
Seeing these places in the history calendar can make you want to go there and walk around to imagine where some of these old places once stood and others may still stand. The July picture of Monte Rio’s Main Street shows the old Pink Elephant Bar in 1940 with its familiar pink elephant sign across the street from Bartlett’s Market.
The Historical Society calendar is on sale for $12 at the 5 & 10 shop on Main Street in Guerneville. The calendars are also available (while they last) at the Cazadero General Store in Cazadero and at DeCarly’s market in Duncans Mills. They can also be ordered online at the Russian River Historical Society’s website, russianriverhistory.org. Proceeds benefit the non-profit Russian River Historical Society.