Between 1905 and his early death in 1916, novelist Jack London purchased 1,400 acres of hilly, pastoral land in the Sonoma Valley and established Beauty Ranch. He shaped the landscape into a working farm, planting an 80-acre orchard, terracing hillsides for agricultural purposes, and building ancillary structures for livestock and storage. He also planted 100,000 eucalyptus seedlings on non-arable land and dammed a creek to create a five-acre, fish-stocked lake.
The Beauty Ranch holdings included the abandoned Kohler & Frohling winery, which London used as an office and domicile while Wolf House, designed by architect Albert Farr, was being built. Wolf House succumbed to accidental fire in 1913 before it was completed, and London’s widow constructed the Mission-style fieldstone House of Happy Walls between 1919 and 1926. She dwelled there until her death in 1955, willing the 39-acre homestead to California as a state park.
Dedicated in 1960, the irregularly-shaped Jack London State Historic Park, now encompassing the entire 1,400-acre ranch, contains the ruins of the Wolf House, the House of Happy Walls museum, and the Londons’ gravesites. Twenty-six miles of hiking trails, bicycle and bridle paths wind through meadows and woodlands of oaks, madrones, manzanitas, redwoods, and Douglas firs. The summit of Sonoma Mountain affords majestic vistas of the Valley of the Moon. The park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.