Jack London SHP
Narrated by Russ Christoff
Known the world over for his books on adventure, particularly “Call of the Wild,” author Jack London was a Native Californian and is the subject of our next state historic park.
Some of his many short stories, books and articles were written at this 15,000 acre Beauty Ranch in the wine country that he shared with his wife Charmion.
Today, the public may visit the Beauty Ranch by traveling 20 minutes north of Sonoma to the town of Glen Ellen.
Now known as Jack London State Historic Park, 800 acres including many of the ranch buildings were donated to the park system by Charmion who wanted to preserve Jack’s memory.
On the day were arrived, some of the ranch buildings were serving as a back drop for a special event, the Grainaissance Fair.
Local bakers and micro-brewers were on-hand that day to display their talents, while entertainment lent to the festivities.
A cross the road, I found the visitor’s center and directions to one of California’s eeriest structures.
Over 70,000 visitors a year make the hike down to the Wolf House ruins. What is left of Jack and Charmion’s??????? dream house.
Two weeks before the couple was to move into their 15,000 square foot home, a fire mysteriously broke out and the Wolf House burned to the ground.
Today, only the unstable stone ruins remain of the fireplaces and numerous winding passages.
Forensic tests done recently, determined that the fire was probably started by spontaneous combustion.
Although devastated by the loss of his new home, London assisted by Charmion, continued to write in the couple’s small cottage on the ranch, until his death at the age of 40.
Efforts are being made at the present to restore the cottage and its gardens to look much as they did when the two lived and wrote there.
At the House of Happy Walls, now the park’s visitor center, one of the rangers, Matt, was on hand to talk about what visitors will find on display.
RANGER MATT: Many of the things you see in here are things that they collected on their travels together. In fact, we have very few things that did not belong to the London’s while they were alive. And as you walk through you certainly will learn a lot more about Jack London.
RUSS CHRISTOFF: There is a real interesting room that seemed to have a lot of artifacts from Jack London himself, it was the study.
RANGER MATT: Yes, that is correct. The study was brought over to this building from the cottage where Jack London actually lived and set up to look as it did at the time of his death in 1916.
Inside you will find his roll top business desk. Next to it is the writing desk, where he sat and wrote many of his later shorts stories and novels.
RUSS CHRISTOFF: Do you have a favorite building or structure on the property?
RANGER MATT: Yes I do! I think if you ask most people they might say it’s the ruins of the Wolf House, but in my case I’ve always enjoyed going to the Pig Palace.
RUSS CHRISTOFF: Why?
RANGER MATT: Well, it’s a very unique building and it really demonstrates Jack London’s innovative ideas as far as farming goes.
Something he was quite proud of because he designed it himself. And I think if you take the time to walk over, you might just see that it’s your favorite as well.
RUSS CHRISTOFF: What is the miracle of this park? Why is it important to preserve it?
RANGER MATT: I think because Jack London is not only significant to the State of California, but to all the world.
In fact, we have many visitors that travel from all over the world to visit this park because they are fans of Jack London.
I think he appeals to people of all ages, of all nationalities, primarily from the stories that he wrote and the appeal they have to everyone.