A Brief History of Shelter Cove & the General Store

Shelter Cove

Because of the very steep terrain on the coastal areas surrounding Shelter Cove, the highway builders constructing State Route 1 (the “Pacific Coast Highway”) in the early 1900s decided it was too difficult to build the coastal highway along a long stretch of what is now the Lost Coast. As a result, the port of Shelter Cove remained very secluded from the rest of the populous state, despite being only 225 miles north of San Francisco. Today it is accessible by a two lane paved mountain road, by boat, or by the 3,400 foot Shelter Cove Airport.

As a result of its seclusion, the Shelter Cove area has become a popular spot for those seeking a quiet vacation, seaside living, or for retirees. Activities in the area include fishing, whale watching, hiking, diving for abalone, golfing, camping, surfing, and stand up paddle boarding

The Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, a prominent feature at Mal Coombs Park in the heart of the Cove, was moved by helicopter from Cape Mendocino in 1998, some 30 miles north, and restored at the park.  It’s also home to a statue of Mario Machi, who purchased the Cove property with his brothers, Babe and Tony, in 1947 and began developing it as a tourist, fishing and recreation site.

The General Store

The following is an article from The Redwood Record in Garberville, CA on Thursday, July 5, 1984:

General Store – Another Landmark for Shelter Cove by Ruth Baccus, Shelter Cove Correspondent

Shelter CoveShelter Cove has reached another landmark. In addition to the camp store, the Cove now proudly announces the opening of the Shelter Cove General Store. The store was opened on June 21 and is located on Shelter Cove Road. It is the first sign of habitation as one enters the development.

The General Store is a family owned and operated business. Babe and Marilyn Machi purchased what used to be known as the “warehouse” last year and received their final permits in January. The entire family went to work with a will in remodeling the plain light green building until it is unrecognizable as the attractive brown and white General Store. Babe and Marilyn were assisted by their three children, Betty, Sara and Tom. Sara and Tom are also residents of Shelter Cove, but Betty lives in Eureka and works at Lazio’s. However, every weekend saw Betty pitching in with the rest of the family to accomplish the remodeling. Betty’s sideline is jewelry making, and the store carries a line of her lovely, handcrafted items. Son Tom was the carpenter on the job. He, with the help of Rex Olander, cut windows into the building, partitioned the first floor and added a second floor inside the building. The second floor is now used for storage but is planned for future expansion as the store grows.

In addition to groceries, the store has a line of hardware and fishing supplies and patented medical supplies as well as jewelry and other gift items. Most notable are the the fishing supplies which include extra-long Styrofoam ice chests which could accommodate even the largest of salmon.

The fresh produce is especially appreciated by the store’s customers because of the distance which would otherwise have to be traveled to obtain it. When possible, locally grown produce is featured. One customer commented that the lettuce which she purchased was so beautiful she took a picture of it before making it into salad.

One of the nicest features of the store, say the customers, are the prices. Prices on some things are competitive with the stores in Garberville and Redway. Other items are marked up just a few cents for transportation costs. Local customers feel that they are getting a good bargain. A fisherman who lives in the Cove came in and spent over a hundred dollars in supplies. He left with the remark that when the Machis get their gasoline pump in he will never have to go to town. The permits for the sale of gasoline have just been received and the pump is expected to be installed soon.

In the past, some have asked whether the Cove would ever develop into a viable community. In answer, the two motels, the two restaurants, the tackle shop and fish business, the campground and store, the civic center with its fire station/medical room/governmental office/library/meeting hall/kitchen, the church, the general store and gas station, make the question irrelevant. The community of Shelter Cove is here to stay.

Others have been fearful that Shelter Cove would burgeon into a city of 15,000 to 18,000 people. Time seems to have proven that both the fear that Shelter Cove would never be a viable community or that it would be the third largest city in Humboldt county (which was stated by the Coastal Commission) are groundless. Progress has been slow and orderly. Convenience businesses are a boon to the entire area, not just to the Cove.