Historic photos show Monte Rio 100 years ago

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The town of Monte Rio is aptly named for its picturesque locale — a place where redwood-covered hills meet the Russian River.

Like other river communities, Monte Rio, population 1,152, depended on two major industries: lumber and tourism.

In the 1870s, the North Pacific Coast Railroad rolled into town. It carried lumber to San Francisco, but also shuffled passengers to and from the city. With its temperate climate, slow-moving river and abundant wildlife, Monte Rio became a hot spot for vacationers from all over the Bay Area.

Vacation cabins and multiple-story hotels dotted the hills in the early 1900s. Guests enjoyed swimming, fishing, sunbathing, donkey rides and trips on the Monte Rio paddle wheel steamboat.

The San Francisco Bohemian Club moved to the area in 1899, when the Sonoma Lumber Company sold a 160-acre grove of old-growth redwoods to the elite men’s organization. The group subsequently purchased over 2,000 additional acres for its yearly gathering of prominent businessmen, politicians, military commanders, artists and musicians.

Click through our gallery above to catch a glimpse of Monte Rio way back when.

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