Ruins of Jack London's Wolf House



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Discover your "Call of the Wild," at Jack London State Historic Park


If you’re looking for a gentle adventure, a day in the lovely Sonoma County countryside, a day to let history touch you and a day when you can meet a California icon, then Jack London State Historic Park may be just what you are looking for.  Nestled among gently rolling hills and vineyards of Sonoma County, just outside of the small community of Glynn Ellen, Jack London’s beloved Beauty Ranch offers all this and more.  You just may discover your “Call of the Wild,” or not so wild, as the case may be.


This November 22 marks the centennial of the death of Jack London.  The younger generation may wonder just why this man was important or why they should care.  They should care because a lot of what they enjoy and take for granted is due to him.  Jack London did one hell of a lot more than write books about south sea adventures and dogs.  He fought indefatigably for the cause of the common man, having himself risen from the depths of poverty.

Successful writer, yes.  During his short life he wrote 50 books and hundreds of articles and essays, among them the iconic “Call of the Wild,” and “White Fang.” He was the highest paid author of his day and was the first American author to earn a million dollars.  Some of his books have been translated into over 70 languages.  But, Jack was far more than a successful writer.  He was a renaissance man in every sense.  He was an adventurer, having traveled to the Klondike during the Alaska gold rush, he sailed the south seas and he was a correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War.  He was an innovator, an artist, a philosopher, social activist, expert horseman and fisherman and a pioneering farmer and vintner.  In the early part of the 20th century he was experimenting with sustainable agriculture.


He designed his Wolf House, the home of his dreams.  It was built from natural stoned quarried on Beauty Ranch and redwood timbers milled from trees on the property.  Wolf House burned irreplaceably just days before the London’s had planned to move in.  A piece of him died that night.  The official story is that the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion from a pile of paint rags the workmen had left in a corner.  My parents, who knew him, and some others felt it was arson perpetrated by some of Jacks socialist friends who felt he had grown just a bit too comfortable.

Yes, Jack London State Historic Park is an adventure that you shouldn’t miss.  Bring a picnic, bring walking shoes, bring a camera, and most of all, bring a spirit of adventure and discover the legacy this inspirational man has left us.



The House of Happy Walls, built by Jack's widow Charmian.  It is now a museum, housing the many of the items Jack and Charmian collected on their travels, and other London memorabilia.




        Copyright © 2008 - Geraldine Duncann