Manzana Schoolhouse -



San Rafael Wilderness

The Schoolhouse camp is located in a large meadow at the confluence of Manzana Creek and the Sisquoc River and 8.25 miles downstream from the lower San Rafael Wilderness trailhead.

Ray’s Notes
Elevation: Google Earth says the elevation is 1,175'

Distance: Google mapping says the Schoolhouse is from 4-5 to 4.8 miles from Water Canyopn Camp and 2.2 miles downstream from Dabney Cabin.
Bryan's Map: Bryan says it is 1.8 miles to Dabney Cabin and 3.9 miles to Water Canyon Camp.

Manzana Schoolhouse is a must place to spend the night at some time in your life. The Schoolhouse was the heart of the homestead community, with kids coming from up and down the river to attend the one-room school that used a blacked redwood slate for its chalkboard. As with all communities, its future lies in its children. The plight of poor Bessie Davis who died barely three months after her birth marked the eventual demise of the community that once hoped to prosper along the banks of the Sisquoc River and Manzana Creek.

The camp is big but yet it has a welcoming feeling. While the campsites rest on the lower part of the river bank the Schoolhouse sits atop a higher plateau from which Wheat Peak can be seen across the Sisquoc. In the earlier days when I used to take students down the Manzana and spend the night in the camp below Cora's schoolhouse, the cows used to roam freely and in the daytime we'd have cow pattie fights. Finding just the right pattie, hard on the outside but soft in the middle, was an art — but when you had one in your hands and sent it flighing it was a delight to see it explode when it hit one of those on the other side of the creek.

Pioneer days were hard days and when the water dried up so did the hopes of those who homesteaded the area. Settling during the wetter 1880s they saw a future bright and clear but it died in the later 1890s when the rains dried up and the families moved back downstream to Sisquoc and Garey and Santa Maria and Gaudalupe. But in the span of two decades they left us a past which is so much more special when you too have to work a bit and follow in their footsteps to view it.

Jim Blakley Notes
There were a number of children of the homesteader families that needed school so in 1894 a one room school of redwood boards was built at the junction of Manzana Creek and the Sisquoc River. Cora Glivis was the first and third teacher. Ella Lillard of Goleta was second teacher. Cora was paid $50.00 per month and paid $14 per month for room and board at the Tunnel family residence 5 miles down the river. At first, William Tunnel gave her an old horse to ride to and from school but, she complained and he gave her a young colt from up on the Potreros. "I got to and from school much faster then", she said.

An addition was made to the original building. It was made of Digger Pine boards cut at the Davis Sawmill on the Manzana. About 1902 Bertha Kleine, with just two students left, was the last teacher. She later married Joseph Libeiu, the Forest Ranger for the Sisquoc. Mr. Henry Negus, a trapper, moved into the abandoned school as a base for his trapping activities.

In 1966 the Manzana School House was declared County Historical Monument No. 2. in May of 1990, the Forest Service, with the aid of the L. P. I. A. volunteers carried out a restoration plan to preserve the over 1 00 year old school house.M

Bob Burtness Notes
Administration: Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia District
Access: About 8 miles downstream from Nira Camp via the Manzana Trail (30W 13) to where Manzana Creek joins with the Sisquoc River. U.S. Forest Service map coordinates: H-15
Topographical map: Zaca LakeElevation: 1,150 feet (350 meters)
Terrain: flat area at mouth of canyon Vegetation: oak, pine
Tables: 8 Stoves: 6 (grated and klarnath)
Water: Manzana Creek (can be seasonal) 

Special Features: This camp, which is very popular at times, especially during spring vacation, has a horse corral and is sometimes used by the Forest Service as a base camp.

Historical Highlights: The Manzana School was, as a community project, founded late in the nineteenth century by I I families led by Hiram Preserved Wheat, a pioneer from Wisconsin supposedly gifted with the power to heal with his hands. This ability so impressed hostile Indians that they marked on his wagon that he was not to be harmed. The schoolhouse, constructed of locally felled and sawn digger pines, is slowly deteriorating but still protects hikers in a rainstorm. It is now a county landmark. The remains of Hiram Wells' (Wheat's son-in-law) homestead can be seen about a half mile below camp, on a hill above the Sisquoc. The ruins include a stone chimney and a grave of "Bessie" who was born in 1902 and died 3 months later.

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Last Updated: Monday, December 8, 2014