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A Breathtaking Oceanfront Experience

Will Jackson — founder

Many people ask how a Connecticut Yankee like me ended up with a ranch in California. Well it happens that even as a youngster, open space and scenic landscapes resonated with me. I enjoyed reading about the explorers, the opening of the West and the land rush. I was excited by the idea that, even in the late 1800's, you could still go west and lay claim to vast tracts of some of the most beautiful land in the world. As an adult working in New York City from 1956 to 1989 and living in the heavily populated suburbs of Connecticut, the allure of the West continued. But I was an Easterner and Long Island Sound, on which Connecticut fronts, was my open space, and a sailboat became my covered wagon. Eventually I bought an acre of land on the Sound, built a house and happily raised a family there. But this isn't the end of the story...

One Friday in 1985, I saw an ad in the "Wall Street Journal" for an 850-acre cattle ranch with over a mile of oceanfront in Mendocino County, California. I had no idea where Mendocino was, but I was intrigued. My wife, Marty (who passed away in 1996) and I called a friend who lived in the area and asked him to check out the property. He called us back and said, "It's beautiful. You'd better come out here and take a look." So off we went. At last, I was beginning to feel like a pioneer going west.

When we arrived at the ranch, Bonita and Jessie Vanderpool, who operated the Orca Inn located on the property, met us. We stayed in a little cottage, which was part of their B & B operation. The Vanderpools had a dune buggy and showed us around. We had just two days to explore, and could only see a small slice of the property. We couldn't cross the creeks and logging roads and the trails in the back, where the redwoods are, were blocked by earth slides and downed trees, so we walked a lot. When we finally reached the top of one of the hills, the view of the coast was absolutely breathtaking. I knew in that moment that we should buy the property and in 1986 the purchase was finalized.

Will Jackson
Will Jackson — founder

The ranch now totals over 2,000 acres with a mile and half of oceanfront and three miles of contiguous ridge lines with panoramic views. Over the years, we've opened up twenty miles of trails through the redwoods and along the streams and rugged coast. We can now explore most of our ranch comfortably by horseback, hiking or on ATVs, and my dream of being part of the vast and beautiful west has come true!

My children and my deceased sister's children now own the ranch. After many family discussions and lots of planning, we decided to build a small but special Inn to give the property a more meaningful purpose and to leave something tangible and beautiful for future family members and guests to enjoy. Thus the Inn at Newport Ranch was created for those wishing to explore old trails and the magical coast. I'm reminded of a quote from J. Monroe Thorington, who hiked extensively in British Columbia in the early 1900s. He wrote "We are not pioneers ourselves but we travel old trails that are new to us and with open hearts, who shall distinguish."


— Willard Jackson 2015


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