Gary Graham Hughes, the former executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center, told the North Coast Journal, “In many ways, Bob McKee was seen as the Gandalf of the back-to-the-land movement, in terms of people getting a piece of land.”
McKee provided the property and the easy terms that launched hundreds of small farms in the rural hills of Southern Humboldt, in the process providing young folks fleeing the cities during the Back-to-the-Land movement a chance to purchase a piece of paradise. His daughter, Sita Formosa, reminisced for us that sometimes people would knock on her folks’ door and McKee would end up selling a piece for as little as no money down and $30 per month.
Along with his wife Valerie and their six children, he welcomed the newcomers with warmth and hospitality. In addition, McKee’s creative mind launched his own businesses including Whitethorn Construction which has become the hub of the remote community. His descendants are woven into the fabric of the greater Humboldt area. Many in their own right shaping and moving the path of the people who live here.
KMUD’s Lauren Schmitt’s three part series on Bob McKee
Listen to HUMBOLDT HISTORY: Bob Mckee by KMUD News
The Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce – November 24. 2020 at 10:30 AM
Whitethorn Construction has been your one-stop homestead shop since it was founded in 1963 by Bob McKee. They carry all manner of lumber, garden supplies, hardware supplies, fire hose suppression equipment and more. Bob has been a fixture in this community for some time and somethings won’t ever change: they still use hand written paper receipts, and Bob and his staff like to take the time to catch up with neighbors and friends. Their staff is super knowledgeable and can help you find the right parts to get any job done.
Right now, I know Santa’s elves are busy setting up their annual Holiday Christmas shop which features the art of several SoHum residents.
The lumber yard is a fixture for those on the west side and the Lost Coast. They’re known for their specialty hardwoods, and it’s a great spot for gatherings, including a regular neighborly market on Saturdays. The lumber yard is set among a campus of several other business including Café Dolce, Joe’s Pot Shop, Mattole Studios and more. You can almost always find a local VFD at the yard, and you are sure to learn something new about fire suppression if you ask.
Whitethorn Construction is located at 545 Shelter Cove Road on the way to Shelter Cove. They are open Monday through Friday 7:30am – 4pm and Saturdays from 8:00am until 4pm. Stop by and tell them the Chamber sent you!
Various Articles, Podcasts and Interviews with or about Bob McKee
- Bob McKee – Exploring the Connection Between Cannabis and Solar Power
- Interview with Bob McKee in 2016
Bob McKee played an instrumental role in creating the back-to-the-land communities in the remote hills of Southern Humboldt County. His work laid the foundation for the birth of the solar photovoltaic industry, and I interviewed Bob to hear him tell his story of how he came to settle in Whitethorn, CA and how the area developed and evolved with the migration of homesteaders in the 60s 70s and 80s, which became the first generation of solar PV power homeowners.
- ‘Gandalf’ has gone: Bob McKee has Passed
- SF Gate – Garberville, Humbodlt County / Parcels from the past / Land-subdivision cases have far-reaching implications Greg Lucas , Sacramento Bureau Chief
- Obituary: Robert McKee 1929 – 2022
- Subdividing Humboldt How Bob McKee Remade SoHum and Brought Himself a Decade-Long Lawsuit by Grant Scott-Goforth
- Outlaw Nation’s Podcast on Bob McKee
- Bob McKee / Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do
- Gem of the Lost Coast – A Narrative History of Shelter Cove
- A collection of links on Shelter Cove History.