NAME: Cuffey's Cove
COUNTY: Mendocino
CLIMATE: Mild temperate maritime.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Any time it isn't raining
COMMENTS: Private property on both sides of highway 1 which passes through the middle of the town site. Parking very limited for cemetery.
REMAINS: Cemeteries (Catholic and Protestant separate. One large old house at southern edge of townsite, east of highway.

Cuffey's Cove may have been settled as early as the mid 1850s on land that had been part of the Richardson and Garcia land grants and even the Russian settlement at Fort Ross. It did not become a town until James Kenney built wire chute landings for the schooners that traded along the Pacific coast, and a shingle mill was built in nearby Laurel Gulch. In the 1870s a steam sawmill was built about two miles away in Donohue Creek, now called Greenwood Creek, and a 3' gauge railroad connected that mill and camp to the landing at Cuffey's Cove. A few years later L.E. White undertook serious efforts to get redwood lumber production to serve the growing cities of California. Unable to strike a deal with Kenney over use of the port, he built his own wharf along a string of rocks about a mile south. He located his large sawmill here and the company town, first called Greenwood, then later, Elk, drained the labor and eventually the business away from Cuffey's Cove. A couple of large fires in the early 20th century destroyed much of the business district and by the 1920s photos from Elk show the town of Cuffey's Cove disappearing. All that remains today is the cemeteries on the west side of California highway 1 which are still in use. A few building pads can be seen under the cypress grove east of the highway, and a few pilings and eyebolts remain from the wharf facilities. The Kenney house is still occupied. Submitted by: Chuck Ross

By the way, this town has a connection with another one on your site, Total Wreck Arizona.  The town of Greenwood (now called Elk) about a mile south of Cuffey’s Cove, which more or less killed Cuffey’s Cove was a lumber company town.  The “woods boss” in charge of logging operations around the turn of the century was E.B. Salsig, the same man who was saved by a bundle of love letters in a gunfight at Total Wreck Arizona a few years earlier.  The company established a fairly permanent camp where their railroad met Alder Creek.  This camp had many family residences and eventually got its own postmark (a Doane)  I used to have a postcard which was postmarked Salsig California.  When Mr. Salsig left the company in about 1913 the town or camp was moved to a sunnier location about half a mile upstream and renamed Manzanita (which also had a postmark)  Cuffey’s Cove and Salsig appear on a 1913 map I have, but both are gone and Elk and Manzanita appear on a 1914 map.  Elk is still in the Cuffey’s Cove judicial district.

By the way, in verifying my information regarding Cuffey’s Cove you may find it spelled Cuffy’s.  It really does not matter.  It is not a family name or any other word with a proper spelling.  The origin of the name is in dispute. 

One version is that Nathaniel Smith and Francisco Feria a pioneer of African heritage and his dark-skinned Portuguese friend had settled at this place in about 1852-54 and that Captain Fletcher referred to all Africans as “cuffys” which was supposed to be Australian slang for slaves.  The other version is that someone in about the same time frame saw a bear “cuffing” her cubs on the beach at this place.  Both these stories seem pretty weak to me.  At least one person believes that it is an Anglicised Russian name.

Cuffey's Cove in foreground and Greenwood/Elk in the distance.
Courtesy Chuck Ross