About Stonyford

In its earliest incarnation as Smithville, Stonyford history dates back to 1863 when John Smith traveled from Adams County, Illinois, to this mountain-nested valley on the banks of Stony Creek. As reported in a locally written history*, John Smith established a hotel, blacksmith shop, and the first lumber and flour mills in the area.

From those beginnings in 1863 to the present, Stonyford has grown hardly at all. There is no hotel in town any longer, and the only businesses are a grocery store-gas station and a bar and restaurant. The sign at the entrance to the town still says “Stonyford, Population 250.”

Stonyford had its own heyday in the early years of the last century, when people came to spend time in the several hot springs that dotted the hills above the town. At that time, as shown in old photographs, the town sported plank sidewalks, a large hotel, and several stores. But, then hot springs went out of vogue, and a fire destroyed the hotel and other buildings. The town then reverted back to a sleepy state from which it has yet to recover.

The town wakes up in the summer months, however, when visitors come to camp at East Park Reservoir. The season begins with the annual rodeo on the first weekend of May. This event, which involves the whole town, brings in people from all over the area. The people pour in on the three main summer holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. After Labor Day, the water-sports crowd is supplanted by the dirt-bike crowd.

In the winter months, dirt-bike enthusiasts move into the hills above Stonyford in an area centered around Fouts Springs. Stonyford is located on the south-eastern edge of the one-million acre (approximately) Mendocino National Forest. This forest provides the area with many places in which to hunt, fish, hike, picnic, and camp. The most popular area for trout fishing and overnight camping is the pristine Letts Lake, which is twenty miles above Stonyford. Fed by natural springs and off limits to motorized boats, this lake is a delightful place to visit.

Eight miles below Stonyford is the crossroads community of Lodoga. It has a bar/restaurant/store that serves the Lodoga end of East Park Reservoir. The Lodoga end is preferred by many because of its better camp sites—more shade trees and more inlets for camping and launching boats.

While an abundance of natural beauty is Stonyford’s strength, isolation is its weakness. The two closest towns of reasonable size are Willows and Colusa. Each is about 40 miles away. The closest cites with good shopping opportunities are Yuba City/Marysville, Chico, and Woodland. Each of these cities is 65-75 miles away. Sacramento is about 110 miles and the Oakland/San Francisco area about 165 miles distant.

This is not as big a problem as it may seem; Interstate 5 is only 26 miles away, so travel to most places is via high-speed roadway. Also, the drive over to Interstate 5 provides a delightfully scenic ride through sparsely inhabited countryside.

*BACK IN TIME, Stonyford Community History; Joyce Bond, Beulah Vanlandingham, Sharky Moore comp., np, May 1993