by Trevor George
There’s a wealth of human history in all shapes and forms on Sonoma Land Trust properties. From native tribes to early ranchers to the present, humankind has been intimately connected to the land for a very long time. In addition to sensitive ecosystems and biodiversity, I think the history of our presence and interaction with the land is worth saving, too.
The barn at Laufenburg Ranch, also known as Sonoma County Historic Site #72, provides a particularly special window into the past. Built in 1883 by Louis McLane, it stands tall with original beams and planks made of old-growth redwood.
Louis McLane was a fancier of thoroughbred race horses and he used this barn to house them. Race horse stalls, like the one pictured below, line both sides of the barn. The walls are still lined with old, rusty ranching tools. When you enter this historic structure, time slows down. You take in the musty smell, see the rays of sunlight cast through crooked slats onto dust motes suspended in the air and imagine the sound of horses shuffling in their stalls. Today, the horses are no more, but the barn provides a safe haven for several species of bats and the occasional barn owl.
The Laufenburg family bought the ranch in 1887. One hundred years later, Charles Laufenburg generously donated it to Sonoma Land Trust. Charles’ terms and conditions of the donation, in a general sense, were that we must protect the property for conservation purposes but also maintain the historic nature and integrity of the structures on the land. Time and gravity conspire to pull down this piece of history, but we’ll keep working to maintain it — to keep it standing so that this portal into the past remains open for the enjoyment of its visitors … and for future generations.
Trevor George is Sonoma Land Trust's project associate. He's actively involved in a multitude of stewardship projects that directly benefit the land!
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.