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     History of Duncans Mills


Duncans Mills was named for two brothers, Samuel and Alexander Duncan who established a lumber mill in the early 1870’s. During that time and into the 1890’s the brothers logged the redwoods which were sent by boat to San Francisco to build its wooden Victorians.

By the turn of the century there were several large hotels and the town was thriving. The 1906 earthquake leveled most of the buildings in Duncans Mills – including the Depot. After the turn of the century, the town was a destination spot via the Northwestern Pacific originating in Sausalito. Travelers rode the train to Duncans Mills to fish, picnic, and enjoy the Russian River.

Greeting travelers as they arrive is the historic railroad depot. It was built in 1907 and won the outstanding restoration for the State of California in 1971. The depot showcases a regional museum which is open by luck or by chance. Standing on narrow-gauge tracks are the restored Northwestern Pacific railway coach, two box cars and Caboose #2, which was part of the last train to Duncans Mills in 1935. Sweet memories of bygone days. The Freight Shed houses the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation. Next door is Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery, which offers organic coffee, wood fired oven-baked pastries and pizzas. Stop by to smell the roasting coffee and have a light repast. Sweets 'n Stuff is located right next to the Post Office where you never have to wait in line.

The Blue Heron Restaurant and Tavern is the spot for food, drink and good company. Continue past the Blue Heron down Steelhead Blvd and you will find The Inn at Duncans Mills. Beautiful gardens, a hearty breakfast and antique-filled rooms invite the traveler.

Just behind the historic railroad depot is one of the two area campgrounds, The Duncans Mills Camping Club, a membership only campground, is the perfect camping experience and welcomes tours. If you are looking for a non-members only option, go over the bridge on Moscow Road and you will find Casini Ranch Family Campground. They offer camping sites in sun or shade along the Russian River and feature the famous “Brown’s Pool” for the lucky fishermen.

Across Highway #116, on the north side of town, the historic DeCarly’s General Store, built in 1888, is still in operation as The Duncans Mills General Store and offers a wide variety of good foods, gifts and necessities.

Country Stores was built in 1876 by Christopher Queen and was a hotel and livery stable in the last part of the 19th century. Christopher Queen was a pony express rider who came to Duncans Mills in the 1870’s .Today this restored building is surrounded by gardens of roses and wisteria and includes Pig Alley, one of the oldest establishments in Duncans Mills. Pig Alley was established in 1977, and features fine crafts, jewelry and more. Jim & Willy’s, in Country Stores Courtyard, is a treasure trove of fine antiques and collectibles.  Up the stairs you will find Quercia Gallery which offers contemporary sculpture, paintings and hand-finished frames and frame restoration. Next to Country Stores on B Street you will find Antiquarian & Florabunda, an enchanting mix of fine antiques and fabulous fresh flowers, specializing in locally grown protea.

Cape Fear Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants on the Russian River. The food is scrumptious and gets rave reviews and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great smells linger in the air! Nestled behind Cape Fear you will find Mr. Trombly's Tea which specializes in unique teas, tea pots and gifts.  Meandering along the boardwalk you will find Studio Nouveau. This tiny shop is an exotic boutique filled with jewelry, fine chocolates, and home and personal adornments.

Worldly Goods is located on Main Street right next door to Cape Fear Cafe. It is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Duncans Mills, John Orr’s Saloon, built in 1877. Inside Worldly Goods you will find exotic and exciting treasures from all over the world.

Along the boardwalk, past the fabulous rhododendrons, discover John Orr’s Gardens and Thistledown Antiques. Thistledown Antiques is located facing the beautiful fountain in John Orr’s Gardens; purveyors of the curiously collectible and fine antiques. Christopher Queen Galleries, established in 1976, has an extensive collection of Contemporary and Early California Paintings displayed among tasteful antiques.

Sophie's Cellars greets the traveler heading west and touts the oldest building in Duncans Mills, which was once located on Pig Alley on the south side of town. Walk through the colorful garden and miniature vineyard and enjoy a taste of Sonoma County wines.

As you round the curve into Duncans Mills from the east, to your immediate right, you will see The Superintendent’s House snug against the hill.

For a special one day adventure or a weekend stay in West Sonoma Country, do the loop west of Highway #101, destination point, Duncans Mills. Call (707) 865-1318 for more information.


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