Photograph taken by Jim Heaphy
The new concrete Noyo Bridge which carries Highway 1 across the mouth of the Noyo River at the entrance of Noyo Harbor was completed in 2005, replacing the old steel truss Noyo Bridge. Noyo Harbor is one of the west coast’s most scenic working harbors located at Fort Bragg, in Mendocino County, California. It is located 130 nautical miles northwest of the Port of San Francisco and 145 miles south-southeast of the Port of Crescent City, California.
This photograph taken on the hill above the entrance of Noyo Harbor shows the Wharf Restaurant and assorted fisheries and other assorted businesses as you first enter the harbor. You might recognize where the charter boat in the picture is docked, is where the yacht was also docked in the movie “Overboard” starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
Going around the bend at Noyo River past the Coast Guard Station is the entrance to the South Mooring Basin. This is one of two places where the fishing fleet can dock there boats. Before the South Mooring Basin was developed, the fishing fleet with their smaller wooden boats, would tie up to each other on the Noyo River as seen in the picture below.
As you can see even back 80 years ago the problems and inconvenience that would occur with the practice of tying up these smaller wooden salmon trollers to each other on the Noyo River.
Noyo River Mooring Basin (picture from Jeff & Jennie)
Every square inch of water floats some sort of boat. There are commercial fishing boats, charter sport fishing boats, private fish boats and a few sailboats.
Picture from Smithsonian.com
Between the South Mooring Basin and the Dolphin Cove Marina is a graveyard of salmon fishing trollers. Pictured above is Bruce Abernathy and his son David at the salmon boat cemetery on the Noyo River. On his property you will find bleached and peeling hulls of salmon boats waiting to be dismantled. Over the years many California vessels have landed in Bruce Abernathy’s front yard, pitched at steep angles among the weeds, some still rigged with trolling poles. Eventually David Abernathy (Bruce’s son) will take them apart with a tractor and chain saw and sells what he can for parts. Thirty years ago there were several thousand salmon boats in California, but as the salmon population become scarce only a few hundred worked the coast.
This is a picture of the Dolphin Cove Marina. They also have located here, riverfront campsites and riverfront RV spaces and pull through spaces. In addition there is a deli and and fueling dock and of course a fish cleaning station for the fisherman.
MOVIE’S FILMED IN NOYO HARBOR AND NOYO RIVER
Soul of the Beast-1922
Thomas H. Ince Films
Starring: Madge Bellamy, “Oscar” the elephant, Cullen Landis, Noah Beery, Sr.
Locations: Fort Bragg – Noyo River
Anecdote: Soul of the Beast is the only silent film made on the Mendocino Coast known to exist on videotape.
The Signal Tower-1923
Universal Film Co
Starring: Virginia Valli, Rockliffe Fellowes, Wallace Berry
Locations: Fort Bragg – Noyo River Tavern-21 miles east of Fort Bragg near Northspur, in the redwoods between Fort Bragg and Willits along the railroad lines of the Skunk Train.
Anecdote: A New York reviewer criticized the train wreck scene as being “unimpressive” because miniature freight cars were used. In fact real freight cars were wrecked!
Johnny Belinda -1947
Starring: Jane Wyman (Oscar – Best Actress), Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead, Lew Ayres
Locations: Fort Bragg – Noyo Harbor on the docks, various farms around Fort Bragg, on headlands near Eaton Ranch south of Fort Bragg. Mendocino – Main Street, High School Hill, Mendocino High School, Mendocino Presbyterian Church.
Anecdotes: Ronald Reagan, married to Jane Wyman at the time, visited the set. He went ocean fishing several times and brought a 36-inch pumpkin pie from Eureka for Ms. Wyman and the crew.
Based on an original Broadway play, Johnny Belinda was nominated for twelve Academy Awards. The Fort Bragg area was said to have an amazing resemblance to Prince Edward Isle, Nova Scotia, the original locale of the play.
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming -1965
Starring: Carl Reiner, Eve Marie Saint, Alan Arkin, Brian Keith, Jonathan Winters, Theodore Bikel, Ben Blue, Johnnie Whittaker
Locations: Mendocino – Old Mendocino Fire Station on Lansing Street, The Old Remedy Store, Heeser Drive, The Sanko House (formerly the C. Mathews home], the Donovan/Rogers home (formerly the Chet Bishop home). Fort Bragg – Noyo Harbor and “Ice House”. Cleone – built the “Whitaker House” as a set for the film on the Union Lumber Company “haul road”. It was set on fire when producers deemed it too costly to dismantle or remove.
Anecdote: First movie to be filmed in its entirety on the Mendocino Coast. Received three Academy Award nominations.
Strangers: A Story of a Mother and Daughter -1978
CBS made-for-television movie
Starring: Bette Davis (Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress], Gena Rowlands
Locations: Mendocino – 600 Kelley Street, Main Street, Mendosa’s Market. Fort Bragg – Fort Bragg Library, Noyo Harbor.
Anecdote: The scenes at Noyo Harbor were supposed to be a July Fourth celebration but the filming took place in December. Between takes Bette Davis and the cast warmed themselves in front of portable stoves.
Humanoids from the Deep -1979
New World Production Company
Starring: Ann Turkell, Doug McClure, Vic Morrow
Locations: Fort Bragg – Dolphin Cove, now called Dolphin Isle Marina in Noyo Harbor, near the Wharf Restaurant in Noyo Harbor, outside the harbor, Mendocino Coast District Hospital, Pudding Creek area, Pudding Creek logging road bridge, Footlighters Little Theatre, used the Fort Bragg High School Band. Mendocino – various locations.
Overboard – 1987
Starring: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Roddy McDowell, Edward Herrman, Katherine Helmond
Locations: Fort Bragg – Pomo Campground, Noyo Harbor at Captain Flint’s, the docks, Noyo Bowl and Restaurant, Purity Market, Fort Bragg Veteran’s Hall. Mendocino – various locations. Caspar – Point Cabrillo Lighthouse.
Anecdote: The sign “Cappv’s” used in the movie is still up at Carine’s Fish Grotto in Noyo Harbor.
TELEVISION SERIES’ AND PILOTS FILMED IN NOYO HARBOR AND NOYO RIVER
The FBI TV Series: Bitter Harbor – 1971
Starring: Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Stephen Brooks, Lynn Loring
Locations: Mendocino – various locations. Fort Bragg – Noyo Harbor.
Sutters Bay -1983
30 minute comedy pilot for CBS Television
Starring: Granville Van Dusen, Linda Carlson
Locations: Fort Bragg - Noyo Harbor. Mendocino – Various locations.
Murder. She Wrote – 1984 to 1989
Universal for CBS Television
Starring: Angela Lansbury with guest performers
Locations: Mendocino – Blair House, Ukiah and Lansing Streets,
Mendocino Beacon Building, Mendocino Headlands, Mendocino Hotel, Masonic Temple (now Savings Bank of Mendocino County), old Mendocino Firehouse, Hill House Inn, Panache, Circa, Mitch’s Barber Shop, Chocolate Moosse (now The Moosse Cafe and Blue Heron Inn), Gallery Mendocino, Kasten Street, Russian Gulch State Park Headquarters. Used the Mendocino High School Marching Band. ?? Filmed scenes of the village of Mendocino from the air. Fort Bragg – Cotton Auditorium, Noyo Harbor and the Wharf Restaurant. Caspar – Point Cabrillo Lighthouse from the air.
Anecdote: A total of nine episodes were filmed on the Mendocino Coast. The Hill House Inn in Mendocino still has the sign that says Hill House of Cabot Cove at their entrance. Murder, She Wrote won a Golden Globe award for Drama for the Best TV series in 1986. Angela Landsbury won Golden Globe Awards in 1985, 1987, and 1990 for Best Performance by an actress in a TV series.
Destination America -1986
Stephen Cannell Productions – Pilot for ABC Television
Starring: Rip Torn, Bruce Greenwood, Corinne Bohrer
Locations: Fort Bragg – Noyo Harbor at the Harbor Trailer Park especially for views of the bridge. Mendocino – Mendocino Presbyterian Church.
Anecdote: Apparently, not only was this series pilot not picked up by any of the television stations, it never aired.
ANNUAL EVENTS HELD AT NOYO HARBOR
The World’s Largest Salmon Barbeque
This event is held at the South Mooring Basin, Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg, California. BBQ tickets are $25 at the event. The Salmon Restoration Association (SRA) provides shuttle service from College of the Redwoods parking lot to South Noyo Harbor from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Each year the Salmon BBQ will host up to 4,000 people between 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. In addition to the live music and dancing, the BBQ will consist of wild-caught salmon, salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread. There has been in the past an alternative vegetarian dish also. There will be local award-winning microbrew from the North Coast Brewing Company, and coffee from the local Thanksgiving Coffee Company and wine from many local vintners. Cowlicks ice cream will also be served.
The bulk of the 4,000 plus people who attend the World’s Largest Salmon BBQ each year make a special trip to do so, most often from the North Bay and Sacramento Valley areas. The event was started in 1973 by commercial fisherman, hoping to find ways to restore salmon.
World Championship Abalone Cook-off
RAFFLE – CRAFT FAIR – T-SHIRTS – FOOD – BEER & WINE – SILENT AUCTION – LOTS OF FUN
This event has grown throughout the years starting at the Van Damme State Park parking lot. After a couple of years of great success in 1998 they moved it to the Pomo Indian Village site east of Brewery Gulch Road. After that location proved to be to small they moved it to the Springs Ranch Headlands and held it there for several more years until 2007 where the event was held at the Caspar Community Center. Now this very popular event has grown so much that the new location is held at Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg. There is chowder tasting, a craft fair, souvenirs and music round out this fun event from 10 am to 4 pm. The festival is free to enter and you may enjoy all of the fun events except for being an abalone judge for the cook-off competition. Food, beer & wine, T-shirts will be for sale. If you would like to be a judge, a ticket is required at the price of $60 to enjoy tasting the abalone and enjoy all the different recipes.
So to recap when you come to the beautiful Mendocino coast and to Fort Bragg, come enjoy the assorted restaurants or fisheries, or stores, come talk to the local fisherman, or maybe plan a trip of fishing or whale watching or simply explore both North Harbor or the South Harbor of the Noyo River.
Stevenswood Spa Resort is only 15 minutes south, of Fort Bragg and Noyo Harbor. Plan on coming to the coast and enjoy one of our suites, dinner and relax and get pampered in our spa.
For dinner phone 707-937-2810 or online at urban spoon.
For lodging phone 707-937-2810 or online at reservations.
For spa reservations phone 707-937-2810 or online at Indigo Eco-Spa.