Between the Lines

Adios, Rio Nido

I moved to Rio Nido, a tiny hamlet in the middle of a redwood forest, in the winter of 2008, just a day after the Big Crash.  I had found my sanctuary in a world of trouble.  What I didn’t count on was a new form of trouble.

Rio Nido is a resort community, founded in the late 1800’s by the Eagle Lodge of San Francisco, a fraternal organization of firefighters and cops.  They bought the land from the Russian River Land Company and split it into lots, which were then bought up by the members.  My parcel was bought by two brothers who got the lot for one gold dollar.  Back then, Rio Nido was a summer gathering place for working-class families who couldn’t afford the sumptuous digs at the infamous Bohemian Grove, in nearby Monte Rio, but were content to while away lazy summer days on the Rio Nido beach and then retire to the modest little cabins that ringed the canyons.  During Prohibition, Rio Nido had a reputation as a place where grog was plentiful: Many of the older houses have trapdoors—for a fast getaway when the revenooers come knocking!

The Big Band era saw the Rio Nido Lodge become a popular hot spot for soldiers on leave and their sweethearts.  The chairman of the local Democratic Party piped music onto the beach, and throngs danced to Ozzie Nelson, Griff Williams, Muzzy Marcellino, and Ken Baker, not to mention the Ran Wilde Orchestra.  Couples met here, married,...

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