A Brief History

ridenhour ranch house inn

The main house built by Louis Edward Ridenhour will celebrate its 115th birthday in 2021. The Ridenhour family was from Missouri and homesteaded 944 acres on both sides of the Russian River in the mid-19th century. They planted the land mostly with hops and general produce.  In 1849, Louis Williams Ridenhour (Louis E. Ridenhour’s Father) was a young man farming in Missouri before he made the overland passage to California in search of gold. After working the gold fields near Marysville for less than a year, he found a small amount of gold. While it was not a fortune, it was enough for provisions for a couple of years while he settled on this property and cleared land for a ranch.  As his success grew, he eventually paid others to homestead the neighboring lands. Later, he bought those plots and added them to his own. At one time, the Ridenhour ranch was nearly one thousand acres between Hacienda Bridge and Korbel Winery.

As the area grew, a public school for the children was needed and a three-acre parcel of land was donated to the State of California for its use. Ridenhour School sat at the current location of the Hilton CDF Fire Station. A one-room elementary school with two doors, boys went in one door and the girls went in the other. A teacher from this school, Mary Ida (Dryden) would marry Louis E and raise a family with him.  Around 1900, 70 acres next to Korbel were transferred to Louis E Ridenhour.   Louis E and Mary built the farmhouse in 1906 that is now the Mine + Farm, The Inn at Guerneville, CA. He planted prunes and grapes as his main cash crop. Louis Edward enjoyed the outdoors but his favorite activity was fishing. Unlike most, Louis Edward preferred fishing for steelhead from the rocks along the coastline near Jenner at the mouth of the Russian River.  Informally, a small rock located near shore a bit north of the mouth was named Ridenhour Rock in his honor.

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