Adventuring in California – Jack London State Historic Park

I spent a few days in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, over the holidays and discovered there’s not much to do there unless  you’re a foodie or wine snob; neither are necessarily a bad thing.  The area is quintessentially California with it’s rolling hills, ubiquitous gorgeous live oaks, and temperate climate.  While visiting I learned that Glen Ellen has a Civil War Era cannon that marks the center of town, which I thought would have some sort of historic battle significance.  It turns out that some general just brought it there in 1905 and it has since become a “symbol of community” for the town.  A cannon?  Community?  I suppose if it had actually been use to defend the hamlet or something like that it’s becoming a symbol of community might make more sense.  Oh, wait, this is California, and more specifically Northern California, so I suppose at some point a Glen Ellen-ite was travelling around talking about his home and said, “Dude, we’ve got a cannon!”

“No way!” responded the listener.

“Way!” “That’s hella cool!” Thus the beginning of the community cannon.

Here it is:








You can see the cannon after crossing a cool bridge:









I love these old school bridges with the dates stamped in them. 

The cannon is next to the Jack London Saloon:









(I took the photo from this angle because there was a gentleman enjoying a beer on a bench in the front and I did not want to intrude on his moment of solitude.)

Glen Ellen also has this cool building which has been rebuilt three times, each time it was rebuilt they added another story:







Glen Ellen is also close enough to the town of Sonoma that we could visit the Sonoma Traintown Railroad.  It’s a cool little park with a miniature railroad, a few carnival type rides and a petting zoo.

We road the rails:

0055 0056






Explored the mini-town:








And saw one of these:







Perhaps what I appreciated the most was discovering Glen Ellen’s proximity to Jack London State Historic Park.  Admittedly I didn’t know much about Jack London except that there was a square named after him in Oakland.  After visiting the park and learning about his life and adventures however, I now want to read some of his books.  I only had time to visit the ruins of his Wolf House, which was intended to be the family homestead.  The structure burned just as he and his wife were preparing to move in.  According to the short informational film it is believed the destructive fire was caused by  workers making final preparations who had left some rags soaked in linseed oil in the house which spontaneously combusted. There is a model of what the house would have looked like in the “House of Happy Walls” which serves as the museum in the park.  The House of Happy Walls was constructed by Jack London’s wife after his death to preserve artifacts they had collected throughout their travels.  It has some wonderful Art Decco/Art Nouveau elements and I’m sure resembles somewhat the vision of Wolf House.  The Wolf House had up to four stories, several large gathering rooms, and a reflecting pool.  Much of the exterior walls remain so you can get a sense of the layout and it helps you imagine what it might have looked like completed.  I was struck by the number of fire places and appreciated the many arches and angles.  It’s a beautiful structure that sparks one’s imagination and truly gives you a sense of the life Jack London led. I only had time to visit the Wolf House Ruins but there is much more to see.  Guess I’ll  have to go back.


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