Harvey West, Jr
October 18, 1922 – April 26, 2011
The men who populate a mountain community are essentially country boys with altitude. They are the guys you turn to when stuff needs doing…or fixing…or building. They breathe new life into ancient transport and get you unstuck from snow drifts. Their vehicle of choice is the backhoe. They can pare down a round of tree trunk into matchstick size kindling before the morning coffee’s done brewing. They have no fear of sharp objects. They can look at a roof and know just how many winters it’s born and how many more it’s got left in it. They know how wiring works and can hook up the generator during a power outage so you don’t have to be stuck in the dark without Facebook. Oh yes, mountain men intuit technology, it all just breaks down to hardware. Mountain tech men climb up to the tops of some of the highest, strategically located peaks and install glorified antennas. Then they hire tree climbers who for fifty bucks will shimmy up your tallest pine tree (about 100-feet) , a dish strapped to their belt and install it to face the nearest, most visible mountaintop transmitter. If you would like to see an example of just such ingenuity and know-how, check out The Graeagle Web Cam, installed by my son, Harvey West III (Trey).
Mountain Men Think Outside the Box
Maybe it’s the vantage point, but mountain men are able to see into the future and make their decisions accordingly. Harvey West, Jr, son and namesake of a famous Soquel lumberman, was such a man. Long before the expression “think outside the box” came into common usage, Harvey West, Jr found himself in Graeagle , upon closure of the box factory, ready to implement his vision of a unique mountain community. Thinking outside of boxes just came naturally to him.
The California Fruit Exchange didn’t exchange fruit, they sold boxes, boxes made of wood, the wood that surrounded them in the form of thousands of acres of pine trees. They were resourceful, but somewhat at the mercy of progress. Progress won on the day cardboard was invented.
In February 1958, Harvey West, Jr. along with his brother Bob West, purchased the California Fruit Exchange property known as The Box Factory, which included a virtual ghost town, GRAEAGLE (formerly Davies Mill) named after Gray Eagle Creek which flows through the center of town. Harvey West Jr. had both a vision and a plan.
To look at Graeagle today, you’d think it had been a resort town much longer than the roughly half century of its development. That’s because Harvey West Jr’s vision didn’t veer much away from what he saw, right in front of him. He sought to preserve the history: the red mill houses dotting the landscape, the general store, the millpond, the forested acres, sheltering native wildlife, the open meadows, the eagles’ hunting ground…they’re all still here with new life filling their former ghostly shapes.
The red houses are now proprietor owned shops and galleries. One of them is my office, the inspiration for this blog.
The Graeagle Store is now
The World Famous Graeagle Store.
The millpond will always be The Millpond, a place to swim, stroll or meditate.
The trees have now matured into giant Ponderosas which still harbor wildlife, but some also accommodate WiFi.
The meadows, Graeagle Meadows, are still the home of the Eagle, the soaring kind and the kind you celebrate at the 19th Hole.
I am proud to be part of the heritage of the West family. Proud of my family, the descendants of Graeagle founder, Harvey West Jr. I’m proud of my town and the people of Graeagle, California, the people I greet every day from
My Front Porch