The notable historic and recreational attraction of the "Skunk Train" connects Fort Bragg with Willits in Mendocino County via a steam-locomotive engine, along with other vehicles.
Mendocino County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Due to an initially minor white American population, it did not have a separate government until 1859 and was under the administration of Sonoma County prior to that. Some of the county's land was given to Sonoma County between 1850 and 1860.
Neither Spanish nor Mexican influence extended into Mendocino County beyond the establishment of two Mexican land grants in southern Mendocino County: Rancho Sanel in Hopland, in 1844 and Rancho Yokaya that forms the majority of the Ukiah Valley, in 1845.
In the 19th century, despite the establishment of the Mendocino Indian Reservation and Nome Cult Farm in 1856, the county witnessed many of the most serious atrocities in the extermination of the Californian Native American tribes who originally lived in the area, like the Yuki, the Pomo, the Cahto, and the Wintun. The systematic occupation of their lands, the reduction of many of their members into slavery and the raids against their settlements led to the Mendocino War in 1859, where hundreds of Indians were killed. Establishment of the Round Valley Indian Reservation on March 30, 1870, did not prevent the segregation that continued well into the 20th century. Other tribes from the Sierra Nevada mountains were also relocated to the Round Valley Indian Reservation during the "California Trail Of Tears", where the Natives were forced to march in bad conditions to their new home in Round Valley. Many of these tribes thrown together were not friends with the other tribes they were forced to live with on the reservation, resulting in tensions still evident today.
A vineyard in Mendocino County
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,878 square miles (10,040 km2), of which 3,506 square miles (9,080 km2) is land and 372 square miles (960 km2) (9.6%) is water.
There were 33,266 households out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the county, the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 27.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.1 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $35,996, and the median income for a family was $42,168. Males had a median income of $33,128 versus $23,774 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,443. About 10.9% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.5% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.
Mendocino County is legislatively governed by a board of five supervisors, each with a separate district. The first district is represented by Carre Brown, and serves the central-eastern region of the county, including Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Calpella, and Talmage. The second district, represented by John McCowen, serves Ukiah. The third district, in the northeastern quadrant of the county from Willits north to Laytonville and Covelo, is represented by John Haschak. The fourth district covers the northwestern quadrant of the county, including the coast from Caspar northwards through Fort Bragg; its supervisor is Dan Gjerde, who previously served on the Fort Bragg City Council. The supervisor for the fifth district is Ted Williams; his district covers the southern portion of the county, including the coast from Mendocino to Gualala, the Anderson Valley, the western outskirts of Ukiah, and portions of the Russian River valley near Hopland.
Mendocino is a strongly Democratic county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984. However, in the 2016 election, Mendocino County gave Hillary Clinton a reduced margin of victory compared to other Democratic candidates before her (though support for third-party candidates more than doubled from 2012).
Presidential elections results
Mendocino County vote by party in presidential elections
As of April 2008, the California Secretary of State reports that Mendocino County has 47,168 registered voters. Of those, 22,264 (47.2%) are registered Democratic; 11,422 (24.2%) are registered Republican; 4,179 (8.9%) are registered with other political parties, and 9,303 (19.7%) declined to state a political party.
In 2000, Mendocino County voters approved Measure G, which calls for the decriminalization of marijuana when used and cultivated for personal use. Measure G passed with a 58% majority vote, making it the first county in the United States to declare prosecution of small-scale marijuana offenses the "lowest priority" for local law enforcement. Measure G does not protect individuals who cultivate, transport or possess marijuana for sale. However, Measure G was passed at the local government level affecting only Mendocino County, and therefore does not affect existing state or federal laws. The city of Berkeley has had a similar law (known as the Berkeley Marijuana Initiative II) since 1979 which has generally been found to be unenforceable.
In 2008, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors placed Measure B on the June 3 county-wide ballot. After three months of hard-fought campaigning and national attention, voters narrowly approved "B", which repealed the provisions of 2000's Measure G. However, opponents of Measure B intend to continue the challenge in court, as the wording of Measure B relies heavily on S.B. 420's state limitations which were recently ruled unconstitutional by the California supreme court. On July 3, the Sheriff and District Attorneys offices announced that they would not be enforcing the new regulations for the time being, citing pending legal challenges and conflicts with existing state law.
In April, 2009, Sheriff Tom Allman issued his department's medical marijuana enforcement policy, which includes the provisions of Measure B and also cites the California Supreme Court Ruling narrowly defining "caregiver" in the state's medical marijuana law.
The county is served by local and regional newspapers as well as a community radio stations. Community radio stations include KZYX, operating out of Philo, and KLLG, operating out of the Little Lake Grange in Willits. The Humboldt County-based KMUD is also receivable in large parts of the county. Local independent newspapers include the online news service The Mendocino Voice, and The Laytonville Observer, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, the Willits Weekly and the Independent Coast Observer. Four formerly independent newspapers are now owned by the national conglomerate media company Digital First Media, they are: The Ukiah Daily Journal, The Mendocino Beacon, the Willits News, and The Fort Bragg Advocate. These four papers have seen a precipitous decline in the size of editorial staff and in coverage over the past several years, in keeping with the nation wide tactics of DFM. The Sonoma County based Press Democrat also covers the area.
"Mendocino" by The Sir Douglas Quintet was released in December 1968 and reached No. 27 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 by early 1969, spending 15 weeks in the chart.
Kate McGarrigle's song "(Talk to Me of) Mendocino," is one of the songs on the McGarrigles' 1975 debut album; it has been covered by Linda Ronstadt on her 1982 album Get Closer, and by the English singer-songwriter John Howard on his 2007 E.P., and also by Bette Midler on her 2014 album It's The Girls.
A song written by Matt Serletic and Bernie Taupin, "Mendocino County Line" which was released in 2002, is about a love that could not last and cites the 'Mendocino County Line' in the chorus.
^ ab Cape Mendocino was named in honor of Antonio de Mendoza, the first Viceroy of New Spain. He was appointed by the emperor, and, arriving in the city of Mexico in 1535, ordered a survey of the coast of California, wherein the cape was discovered. The county was named after the cape. History of Northern California, p. 138.
California Legislature, Special Joint Committee on the Mendocino War, Majority and Minority Reports of the Special Joint Committee on the Mendocino War. Sacramento, CA: Charles T. Botts, State Printer, 1860.
V.K. Chesnut, Plants Used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1902.
Thomas N. Layton, Western Pomo Prehistory: Excavations at Albion Head, Nightbirds' Retreat, and Three Chop Village, Mendocino County, California. Los Angeles, CA: Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1990.
M.B. Levick, Mendocino County, California. San Francisco, CA: Sunset Magazine Homeseekers' Bureau, n.d. [c. 1912].
Mendocino County Chamber of Commerce, Mendocino County, California. Beverly Hills, CA: Windsor Publications, 1968.