A Partnership Launches the Sonoma Coast Doghole Port Survey

Editors Note: This is the first installment of ongoing updates to this blog entry. This entry will be updated as new information and developments are made available

sonomacoastsurveyCaption: Terrestrial Team at Stillwater Cove (from left to right); Candice Ralston Cultural Resources Div., Jessica Faycurry, Sonoma State University, Margaret Purser Sonoma State University, Richard Everett San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Matthew Lawrence, NOAA, Chris Feddersohn, Docent Ft Ross SHP, Scott Green, Northern Service Center, Denise Jaffke, State Parks Dive Team, James Delgado, NOAA, Airielle Cathers, Cultural resources Div., Deborah Marx, NOAA, Tricia Dodds, State Parks Dive Team, Jason Field, Sonoma State University, Richard Fitzgerald Cultural Resources Div.


California State Parks, in partnership with the Maritime Heritage Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), completed fieldwork on Aug. 9, 2016 for its inaugural project under an agreement signed a year ago. The collaborative project was christened The Sonoma Coast Doghole Ports Maritime Cultural Landscape Survey Project.

Teams worked concurrently on land and sea documenting the historic timber industry along the rugged Sonoma coast’s doghole ports. These small embayments along the coastal cliffs and headlands were just large enough to allow small 19th century schooners and steamers anchorage to load redwood lumber and other cargo from the mainland via elaborate and often precariously placed chutes or wires.

Altogether, the terrestrial team surveyed eleven doghole ports including those in Sonoma Coast State Park, Fort Ross State Historic Park and Salt Point State Park. Additionally, Timber Cove, Stillwater Cove, Stewart’s Point, Bihler Point and Del Mar Landing were also surveyed and found to contain the remnants of this once thriving 19th and early 20th century maritime industry.

The underwater survey team based its operations from the NOAA research vessel Fulmar. Cruising aboard the Fulmar State Park and NOAA divers conducted dives at four doghole ports (Fort Ross, Gerstle Cove, Fisk Mill Cove and Duncan’s Landing) and located submerged infrastructure at two locations, Fort Ross and Gerstle Cove. The underwater archeologists also dove on the steamship Pomona shipwreck located just offshore from Fort Ross to document its condition. They also made exploratory dives to locate the schooner J. Eppinger, bark Windermere and steamship Whitelaw, a small sample of the dozens of shipwrecks located in these often fog shrouded and dangerous waters.

The partnership that started last August now includes the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries West Coast Region, the Greater Farallones Association, National Park Service’s San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Sonoma County Parks Department, Sonoma State University and Caltrans. We’re looking forward to continuing the coastal survey along California’s coast next year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s