Formerly a lumber town in the center of the Yokayo Valley, Ukiah has made the transition to specialty crops such as prunes, apples, and grapes. The Ukiah area is also home to several well-respected wineries.
Located in the heart of Mendocino County and the Redwood Empire, Ukiah's small town atmosphere belies our dynamic and progressive character. Nestled in the Ukiah Valley, the vineyards, pear orchards and forested coastal mountains provide a picturesque setting for our City. Ukiah is located just two hours north of San Francisco, and one hour from the historic town of Mendocino perched on the breathtaking cliffs of the Pacific Ocean.
In 1856, Ukiah's first settler, Samuel Lowry, built a
log cabin on the southwest corner of Perkins and Main Streets. Since then,
many more settlers made their homes in the Ukiah Valley.
Mendocino County originally covered several Mexican Land Grants known as the Sanel or Felix Grant, the Yokayo Grant, and the Grant del Norte or Garcia Grant. In 1850, by an act of the California Legislature, Mendocino County became part of Sonoma County. In 1859 a separate county government was established.
Ukiah was located in the Yokayo Grant. The word Yokayo comes from the Indian word meaning "deep valley".
In 1860, at a cost of $9,000, a brick courthouse was
constructed where the present day courthouse still stands. The city's first
hotel was built in 1858 by Harrison Standley. The hotel was on the southwest
corner of Main and Standley streets.
1860 also marks the year the county's first newspaper, The Mendocino Herald, was established. Until 1865 it reported on the Civil War under the heading "The Arrival of the Pony."
In 1889 the first train steamed into Ukiah and land prices went quickly boomed with bare lots going from $30.00 to $150.00!
The town grew and prospered. Soon drug stores, several saloons, doctor and lawyer offices, and livery and feed stables were built around the courthouse.
By this time, nearly 2,000 thousand people lived in Ukiah. 1917 is referred to by old-timers' as the "year of the big fire". The blaze started in the livery stable next to the Maple Cafe (which is the Palace Place today). Soon, the entire west side of the State Street was aflame. The rebuilding started immediately and before long Ukiah was once again the hub of county activity.
By the end of the 1940's, lumber camps were springing up all over the county. Redwood became a popular wood of the day.
During the Lumber Rush of 1949, Mendocino flourished processing the "red gold." About this time the population was around 6,000. There was one elementary school, Yokayo School, where the Civic Center stands today. One new housing development, Mendocino Gardens, and several small churches. The medical and dental community consisted of five doctors and three dentists.
The old courthouse, with its large magnolia park, still graced the town center and still handled all the county business. In 1950 it was again rebuilt, this time at a cost of over $800,000.
In 1957, Mayor Don Rones presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony which opened the new downtown shopping center on School Street.