The Tale of the Hendy Hermit

Information from the Ca State Parks Mendocino Facebook page:

Hendy Hermit info graphicsAnyone heard of the Hendy Hermit? He lived on the edge of Hendy Woods State Park for about 18 years until his death in 1981 and his “hut” still remains in the park, see photos below. The old wooden sign with newspapers clippings on it had to be removed for safety reasons. We have put a temporary sign there until we get a more permanent replacement. Hike the Hermit hut trail and learn more about him and check out the display at the visitor center when it opens this summer. Hendy Woods Community

Hendy Hermit info

Hendy Hermit info graphics

Hendy Hermit info graphics

Hendy Hermit info graphics

Hendy Hermit info graphics

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Truth Be Told
Member
Truth Be Told
5 days ago

The Hendy Woods Hermit was a houseless guy who didn’t trash the environment. Very unlike the denizens of the bum camps trashing the watersheds around Garberville and points north and south.

Wabbajck
Guest
Wabbajck
5 days ago
Reply to  Truth Be Told

True hermits take pride in their dwellings and environs. Yes, I know this from experience.

Creosote
Guest
Creosote
4 days ago
Reply to  Truth Be Told

He was a hermit not a houseless. There is a picture of his house in this article!

Truth Be Told
Member
Truth Be Told
4 days ago
Reply to  Creosote

Nah…it was a rudimentary shelter formed by slabs of bark, limbs, etc. propped up against a tree…not a house by any definition. But the point is, he took pride in his surroundings, a value completely lacking in the denizens of the bum camps defiling our watersheds and forests.

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
5 days ago

50 years ago there was a similar type character who lived along the Avenue of the Giants in a Goosepen, by Jordan Creek, near the intersection of Elinor Road…

He would climb clear to the top of an Ancient Old Growth Redwood Tree, and place an American flag atop it, that could be seen from the 101 Freeway…

Sometimes we would see him riding his bike along the freeway near there on our way to Eureka…

Rumor has it that $60,000 in Gold Coins we’re located in and around his camp, after he passed away…

There was also a couple of bank robbers that passed through there many years before that, that ended up breaking an axle on the Old Overland Stage Route, after knocking over a bank in Fortuna…

(In the 30’s…???)

The Gold from that robbery was never found…

Or was it…???

Did the robbers , that were eventually caught, leave the Gold for safe keeping with the man that lived in the Goosepen, never to return for it, because they didn’t outlive there jail sentence…???

History, or Bullshistory…???

Anyone else remember him…???

I wonder if Kym might remember seeing him or his high flying American Flag…???

I can still remember seeing him on his bike…

Last edited 5 days ago
NeeSee
Guest
NeeSee
5 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

I’ve walked to that tree in my younger years. It was kind of creepy.

Ernie Branscomb
Guest
Ernie Branscomb
5 days ago

When I was a kid we would often see Henry Shaw, Fort Bragg’s Hermit.

I linked to a short note and photo about him below. The story said that he wore skins, which maybe so, but when I saw him he was always dressed in gunny sacks that it appeared to be fashioned by himself. I always laughed at him because it seemed strange to see a man wearing a dress. He also had long hair. I guess that he would fit in nicely today. To me, he looked like an old woman with a beard.

I think that he lived in one of the many abandoned building that were around there as the mill camp workers were able to afford better houses and abandoned their mill shacks.

https://www.advocate-news.com/2013/12/12/recovering-our-local-history/

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
5 days ago

Ernie and Kym…

“Looky what I found”…

I googled “hermit tree redcrest CA”

BINGO…

His Name was Don McClellan, and the history is pretty interesting…

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC190WT

Growing up as a kid in Redcrest, my mom had taken me here several times. At the time, the Hermit tree was still standing and you were able to go inside. I remember that there was a door made of redwood to get inside but the tree had grown so that it wouldn’t close all the way. Once inside there was a window across from the door and a table and chair. On the right I remember my mom telling me to be careful when climbing up onto the second floor. Not much was up there. Just a few broken boards and no way of getting up to the third and final floor. After climbing down she took me to another tree that Don McLellan would store his bicycle. Then we would continue down the trail to the bridge you have to cross to get to this cache. Many years later my mom told me of a fire that occured in the Hermit tree. Going down to look at it we discovered burn marks on the outside and everything inside was destroyed. A few years later my mom called and told me that it had fallen down. I was never able to find it since. On my way to place this cache I found it and confirmed it with my mom. Check additional Waypoints for coordinates to this historic tree. My moms aunt, Evelyn McCormick, wrote a book about some of the history called: Living With The Giants: a History of the Arrival of Some of the Early Northwest Coast Settlers. The following is what she wrote in in 1972: Chapter 13 Living in a Goosepen The redwoods of the Jordan Creek area are part of a primeval forest that has endured the ravages of time for centuries. Here the scars of past floods and fires have almost been erased. A lone woodsman, erroneously called the hermit, is probably the only person to inhabit this darkened and lonely spot in recent times. Don McLellan arrived unannounced in late 1958 or early 1959. He resided alone for about a year in a redwood goosepen, an aged redwood tree or stump whose center died and disintegrated leaving a large hollow. This particular tree, akin to many others, is still alive, producing new needles and cones from year to year. The inner circumference of the goosepen was large enough for McLellan to house a wood stove, a few shelves and necessary utensils as well as provisions. This ingenious hermit found that what his new home lacked in girth, it furnished in height. He immediately went to work with redwood beams, constructing second and third stories above his kitchen. He fashioned a mattress of straw for his second floor bedroom and kept some of his belongings on the third floor. His stove was completed with a curved chimney which forced the smoke through a wide crack and beyond the bark outdoors. His tree house was completely within the tree itself. Toward the southwest he discovered a second goosepen. Here he stowed ropes, climbing spurs and his bicycle. Both goosepenswere enclosed with sturdy redwood doors and locked with heavy steel padlocks. A third goosepen was used as a smokehouse. The clean-cut man was a native of the state of Washington where he spent much of his life as a high climber in the pine and Douglas fir forests. He had also spent some time working in the Humboldt redwoods. He enjoyed our towering trees and climbed up into the mists and down the trunks without disturbing the limbs or foliage. While on the ground he stayed on the paths to leave the redwood sorrel lawns and the giant ferns intact. He was a friend to all who came to visit or to observe what they considered a curiosity. He and the late Albert Porter of Pepperwood and a few others became fast friends. Porter advised the visitors to lie on the ground to better observe the hermit and treetop flags. It was the hermit’s fondest dream to have the 1960’s world summit meeting held in San Francisco. To lure the world leaders to the West Coast and gain publicity for the redwood realm, he wrote several letters inviting officials to the grove where he planned to house some of them in the goosepens amid the green and peaceful surroundings. He also wrote the Save the Redwoods League urging their support. His preliminary work was climbing to the redwoods’ tips and hanging American flags in the cool breezes. The flags could be seen from the northenmost end of the Avenue of the Giants roadway which was then Highway 101. He also hung two California Bear Flags amidst the several national flags. The flags ranged in size from 10 x 13 feet

Last edited 5 days ago
Kym Kemp
Admin
5 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

I remember going there when I was a kid. My dad took me.

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
5 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

I figured if I knew about it, you knew about it too…

I don’t remember the tree though…

By the time I went there it was gone…

One of them anyways…

It looked like someone dynamited it, it was so exploded…

Very grown over, too…

Yep, and of course your Dad would have known about it, he worked for Caltrans and a Local, must have known ALL the in’s and out’s of the area…

Ernie Branscomb
Guest
Ernie Branscomb
5 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

Thanks TRG
He was obviously not a druggy looking for a place to crash.

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
5 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

Is this your ‘account’

It sounds similar to yours…

https://www.hermitary.com/articles/humboldt.html

‘Another Account’

‘A friend of Hermitary reports the following about Don McLellan, the Humboldt hermit.’

“When I was a child growing up in Humboldt County, California, my father would take me to visit a hollowed-out redwood tree which he said a hermit had inhabited. It had a stout wooden door with latch, and a wooden floor with a built-in table and cabinet. A ladder took you up to a sleeping loft, and above that was another attic floor which was presumably a storage area. There was a hole in the tree which the hermit had screened in for a window.

My father claims to remember the hermit riding a bicycle into Scotia for supplies.

Scotia, about twenty-five miles from Eureka, was a lumber company town established by Canadian settlers from (logically) Nova Scotia. Our correspondent description of McLellan continues:

I always pictured him as having a long beard and speaking to no one. But a little research shows that the hermit was fairly young (maybe a beatnik) and only stayed a short time. …

The tree has unfortunately blown down, I believe.”

Last edited 5 days ago
Kym Kemp
Admin
5 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

Nope. I always use my name.

Ernie Branscomb
Guest
Ernie Branscomb
4 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

“Your word is your bond, your name is your honor”

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
5 days ago
Reply to  The Real Guest

Continued…

“…to 5 x 8 feet. The hermit urged people to take color photos to show the resemblance to immense plants in blossom. He wanted no personal publicity. The long sought after summit meeting was eventually held in Paris. Observers in the grove were awed as he spiraled himself up the trunks. He perched on limbs, threw the rope over each in turn and climbed with his spurs until the limbs were close enough together for him to continue climbing without his gear. His attire included logger’s boots and a silvery hard hat. He occasionally bicycled to Eureka and was easy to spot. His vehicle was equipped with two circular baskets in front and he wore a black three-quarter length coat with a split tail which flapped as he pedaled along. When the weather was severe, he left his bicycle in the goosepen and rode the Greyhound bus into town. The entire distance to Eureka was via a two-lane highway through Scotia, Rio Dell, Fortuna, Loleta and Fields Landing. He often shopped at a Pepperwood grocery store where he always picked up a few candy bars or other sweets. He purchased kerosene for lamps and lanterns in Rio Dell. The Jordan Creek area at the time was the property of The Pacific Lumber Company. When McLellan was preparing to take a business trip north to his Washington home, he stopped in at the Scotia TPL office and asked for the top company official. He was escorted to the private office where he asked the official to take care of the goosepen door key until he returned. When he was finally convinced that the summit meeting would be held in France, he returned to Washington where he died some time later. Today, the tree is within the confines of California State Redwood Parks.”

Bill
Guest
Bill
5 days ago

Fascinating local lore, wonder if anyone has a photograph of his three story redwood home? I met an old-timer in the Clatsop State Forest near the Columbia river in Oregon who told me tale of a hermit that used to live in those woods, lived in a cedar grove and handmade cedar furniture to barter with locals for supplies. Apparently he built a veritable wonderland of sculptures in his grove. The relevance is that he too ate his meals in a converted paint can and he too died of stomach cancer, so don’t eat food out of a paint can. The old-timer told me that the logging companies bulldozed his wonderland in fears it would become a tourist attraction, similar to talk of dynamiting this hermit’s treehouse.

Kicking Bull
Guest
Kicking Bull
4 days ago

.

Last edited 4 days ago
Kicking Bull
Guest
Kicking Bull
4 days ago
Reply to  Kicking Bull

Good stuff .

IMG_8184
willow creekerD
Member
4 days ago

One ‘hermit’ who keeps his place tidy, adds a character to a place. A horde of drug addled hermits trashing our woods, that’s a problem.