Old logging west of Lake Sonoma has been privately owned since 2000
Remember that joke about a man who wants to sell you a bridge? Well, don’t laugh because this time it’s real and a 17.5 mile long road comes with it. Plus, there’s more than just one bridge in this current real estate listing by Sotheby’s International Realty’s Healdsburg office.
The property is the historic Kelly Road that is west of Lake Sonoma and traverses ridgetops, meadows and several creeks and ends at a locked gate at Soda Springs Reserve, a county park near Annapolis. The road was originally built in 1954 by Paul Kelly and served as a logging road connecting the coast to Cloverdale before the Army Corps of Engineers flooded the eastern portion beneath Lake Sonoma, which was dedicated in 1983.
Kelly Road has been privately owned since 2000 after the Army Corps abandoned the road and the County of Sonoma declined taking over ownership and maintenance. Healdsburg native and rancher Dave Lewers and his family have been the private owners but Lewers died in February 2019 and the road is now listed for sale by his estate. Eric Ziedrich is the Sotheby’s real estate agent handling the listing.
“It’s a complex property,” said Ziedrich. “There are 13 individual legal parcels that, for the most part, are only 100 feet wide along the roadway. The property totals 177 acres.”
Roddy Jonas, of Healdsburg, is the executor of the Lewers family estate. The property is listed for $1,195,000.
“We’ve had some communications with the county and with some representatives of property owners along the road,” said Ziedrich. The Lewers family owns a 230-acre homestead and ranch and the Henry Trione estate owns a larger ranch and hunting club nearby. Several other property owners have hunting cabins and ranch operations along the road as well. A few small vineyards are planted with potential for planting more.
When Dave Lewers took control of the road in 2000 he erected locked gates at each end and completed a series of road maintenance agreements with the Kelly Road private landowners. The basic annual fee was $550 and Lewers averaged about $65,000 in fees to cover his labor and costs for maintaining the dirt and gravel road, said Ziedrich. The county’s Soda Springs Reserve is best approached by Annapolis Road off of Skagg’s Spring-Stewart’s Point Road. There is no park access from Kelly Road.
Logger Paul Kelly built his road in 1954 to serve active logging and timber operations in the rugged ridges above Dry Creek and in the Gualala River watershed. The road was considered superior to the old stage road between Skagg’s Spring and Stewart’s Point. Kelly predicted his road would eventually deliver a billion board feet of redwood and Douglas fir to the mills in Cloverdale.
Kelly sold his road to a collective of logging interests including Gualala Redwoods, Cloverdale Timber Co. and Cloverdale Redwood & Masonite. The Masonite Company owned the road when the Army Corps began its construction of Warm Springs Dam and Lake Sonoma in 1967.
“The property is wild and secluded with some beautiful parklike acres,” said Ziedrich.