In Willits, California; Preserving American Charm

It was said by the New York times "Few people in this scrappy former timber town would disagree that the most famous citizen to ever hail from this town was a short legged, knobby-kneed, somewhat scrawny and ill tempered - a mud colored underdog, not unlike Willits itself." (July 15, 2003) The newspaper is referring to Willits most famous and beloved citizen Seabiscuit, the racing horse.
A quaint city located in Northern California, just north of San Francisco. The city is named after settler Hiram Willits. What has put this former timber town on the map was one famous horse named Seabiscuit that captured the heart of many Americans. Seabiscuit was an underdog story in the horseracing world and when he retired he was retired to a very pleasant ranch in the town.

The main attraction in Willits is the Mendocino County Museum. Here at the Museum there are several exhibits available to view. There are artifacts from the 19th and 20th century, Native American baskets, and outdoor Railroad car exhibit and of course an exhibit dedicated to Seabiscuit himself.

The city dates back to the 19th century during the time period where northern California was booming with settlers making their fortunes. The city itself still holds some of that small town charm. Really it was not put on the map as a landmark or a historical tourist attraction until Seabiscuit was retired there. The horse was loved very much by the citizens. They each felt like they owned him.

Since Willits is very close to the coast there are also maritime exhibits on display at the Mendocino County Museum. Pieces from the ship “Frolic” can be seen on display at the museum. The redwood timber was a very big part of their industry. Citizens in Willits fitted a redwood tree as the mast of the ship. Another interesting piece of American travel history that is on display at the museum are some stagecoaches that were used as the postal carriers that followed the route from Cloverland to Greenwood. The coach that is on display at the museum is one of the few that were authorized by the postal service.

The Pomo people were Native Americans that resided in Northern California. At the Mendocino Museum there are beautiful pieces of their baskets on display. These baskets are not your run of the mill everyday basket. They are beautiful pieces of artwork with intricate designs all hand crafted.

The Mendocino Museum was built in the 1970’s and has expanded since then. It was originally a gift from the Mendocino Historical Society. The museum is opened Wednesday through Sunday. There is not a set admissions fee. However, they do have a suggested donation that you can make to the museum upon your visit, which is no more than $5.

In Willits one understands it is a definite place to visit if ever in the Northern California region. The town is charming and in addition to the Mendocino County Museum there is also the Ridgewood Ranch, which is the ranch in which Seabiscuit happily lived out the remainder of his days. The ranch promotes conservation and preservation of American history. Another landmark to visit that shows an excellent preservation of the American way of life in Willits is the Kelly house, which was built by one of the city’s founding fathers is a charming Victorian style home that represents the boom in population during the 1860s. No matter what landmarks you decide to visit during your trip in Willits it will be an educational enjoyable walk through history.
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