Noyo Harbor is the port and boat docking area for Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, California. Noyo Harbor is located about 130 nautical miles northwest of the Port of San Francisco and some 145 nautical miles south-southeast of the Port of Crescent City. Fort Bragg was established as a fort for the US military before the American Civil War. Today, it is a busy tourism center where visitors can enjoy wonderful Pacific Ocean views as well as the beautiful rugged coastline in Northern California. In 2000, over seven thousand people called Fort Bragg and Noyo Harbor home.
Before European settlements appeared there, the Pomo people lived in the area of what would become Fort Bragg and Noyo Harbor. These hunter-gatherers established settlements near the sea along the coast of California.
Representatives of the US government's Bureau of Indian Affairs came to the Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor in 1855 area seeking a location for an Indian reservation. In 1856, the 25 thousand acre Mendocino Indian Reservation had been established at Noyo Harbor.
In 1857, a military post named after Captain Braxton Bragg was established to maintain order on the reservation. The military post continued to operate until 1864 when the garrison was emptied. In 1886, the Mendocino Indian Reservation was closed, and the lands were opened for settlement. The last building of Fort Bragg, the Quartermaster's storehouse and commissary, still stands on North Franklin Street.
By 1869, small lumber mills had begun to appear on the Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor creeks, and ranches were settled across the area. A lumber port was operating from Noyo Harbor by 1873.
Lumber mills needed a way to get lumber to their facilities in the Noyo Harbor area. The Fort Bragg Railroad was created in 1887 to bring longs to the mills, and the mills bought a San Francisco streetcar to carry the loggers' families for Sunday excursions.
To take advantage of Noyo Harbor, partners C.R. Johnson, Calvin Stewart, and James Hunter moved their mill to Fort Bragg, incorporating as Fort Bragg Redwood Company. In 1893, the company was renamed Union Lumber Company and absorbed smaller lumber companies.
The town of Fort Bragg was incorporated in 1889. The Union Lumber Company incorporated the National Steamship Company in 1901 to move lumber, supplies, and passengers through Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor. At the time, the only source of goods for Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor was by steamship. Boise Cascade purchased the Union Lumber Company in 1969. In 1973, it became Georgia Pacific.
In 1906, a severe earthquake ignited a fire that almost destroyed Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor. The town's brick buildings were damaged or destroyed, and frame homes were leveled. It took a year to rebuild the town. Despite the hardship, the earthquake was a boon to Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor, as the local mills provided the lumber needed to rebuild nearby San Francisco. The resulting affluence led to the completion of the rail line to Willits, and the first tourists arrived in Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor in 1912. By 1916, the area was a popular vacation destination, and many new residents began to settle there.
During its early years, Noyo Harbor supported a commercial fishing industry that was important to the local economy. The fishermen in Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor were known for their high-quality fish products, and they distributed the products to many larger cities in the area.
Modern Fort Bragg/Noyo Harbor supports a diverse and growing residential, commercial, and recreational area. In 2002, the Georgia Pacific Lumber Company shut down the large mill within the city limits and put an almost 162-hectare plot of land on the market. The city is considering its options for the site. These include a marine research center, a world-class golf course, a college, a smaller mill, and a conference center.