Celebrate Jack London’s birthday with a special docent-led hike at Jack London State Historic Park, Glen Ellen, on Sunday, January 20. This tour of Beauty Ranch will focus on Jack London’s pioneering experiments in sustainable agriculture.
Jack London began this innovative work in 1911, truly ahead of his time and sowing seeds for the sustainable concepts that have since become a natural part of life and work in Sonoma Valley, including Benziger Family Winery, a leader in biodynamic viticulture and farming. The hike will be followed by a celebration tasting at the neighboring Benziger Family Winery.
The writer: Jack London was a prolific writer. His books, such as The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, and his hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles made him the most popular American author in the early nineteenth century. London was born in San Francisco on January 12, 1876 and spent his early years, in near poverty, in the Oakland. At age 17, he left home on a sailing ship bound for Japan and thus began his travels on which many of his books and stories were based.
The families: In 1900, London married Elizabeth Maddern and they had two daughters, Joan and Bessie, both born in Piedmont. The marriage ended in 1904. In 1905, London married Charmian Kittredge.
Valley of the Moon: In that same year, the London’s acquired property with a small cottage near Glen Ellen, which they called Beauty Ranch. With Charmian’s support, Jack began construction of a dream house, “Wolf House,” which was destroyed by fire in 1913 shortly before its completion. Although it was a devastating loss, London continued writing--in the cottage house--until his death at age 40 in 1916. His writing allowed him to fund various experimental farming projects—some of which were successful and some of which were financial failures. The innovative “Pig Palace,” allowed one man to feed up to two hundred hogs.
House of Happy Walls: After Jack’s death, Charmian built a home, "The House of Happy Walls," where she lived until she died in 1955. The former home is now a museum. A nearby trail leads to a mossy rock that marks the graves of both Jack and Charmin.
The hike details:
- The hike begins 10 a.m. (meet in upper parking lot past kiosk at Park). Tasting at Benziger Winery at 11:30 am
- Tickets for hike and tasting are $15 and can be purchased in advance online
- (Parking fee of $10 collected at kiosk upon arrival).
- For more information, please call (707) 938-5216.
More Jack London and Jack London Park info:
- For visitor information about Jack London Historic State Park’s activities, click here.
- Jack London biographical information, click here.
- Trails, click here.
- Jack London State Historic Park was saved from closure by Jack London Park Partners, a project of Valley of the Moon Natural History Association.