Manchester


schoolhouseManchester is a little tiny community just north of Point Arena. Like most of the other villages here on the coast, Highway One runs right through town. It first appears in the history books when the area was deeded to Rafael Garcia by Mexico in 1844.  Garcia was the first person to start raising cattle in the area and Manchester is still an important dairy center on this part of the California coast.

In 1857 a Mr. Wilsey opened a store at Brush Creek which attracted other settlers to the vicinity and Manchester town was born.  In 1859 Sylvanus Hoyt began a dairy farm north of town.  He was originally from Vermont but had worked in the dairy business in New York, New Jersey, and San Francisco before moving to Manchester. In subsequent years other settlers arrived including James C. Stewart the man who gave Sonoma County's Stewart's Point it's name.  In 1871 a post office was added to the community. In subsequent years Manchester developed a reputation for it's butter and dairy products.buildings

Lumbering in the area was important but the major focus for that activity was Point Arena a few miles to the south of Manchester.  In the early twentieth century a number of Swiss Italian families settled in the Manchester area and involved themselves in the agricultural economy of the region.  The town was incorporated in 1908 and by 1914 it had a store, a blacksmith shop, two creameries, two churches, and a hotel.  Although the town has shrunk in importance, the dairy farms in the surrounding area remain and are quite prosperous.

There is a major state park north of town - Manchester State Beach.  It was the site of many a ship wreck in the days of sail.  Today it is the terminus for the American Telephone and Telegraph cable which runs under the Pacific Ocean from California to the Hawaiian Islands.  The long beach and shifting sand dunes are a magnificent location for a walk or a picnic. Views to the south include the Point Arena Lighthouse.