Hippie Days and Wheelers Ranch Commune

This was Wheeler’s Ranch Commune in Occidental near where i live and in it’s time it was a legendary commune .Bill Wheeler artist had been a longtime customer of the store …This picture is from 1969.My area held court with a lot of the great communes written about in Life and Time magazine in it’s time.There are many intentional living places around to this day.I mostly lived in communes since i was 15,16 up until my 20’s.The first was on Vancouver Island near Nanaimo and then Montreal in several usually with the same group of people.We inherited the local underground paper after awhile and that was an infamous commune known as the Logos house and then in NYC with Underground News Service with the likes of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and then in Bolinas and Stinson Beach in California on up to the day i decided to cut my long hair and enter the record business at 22.I put away the wooden chopsticks i had been using and relearned the art of eating with a fork and knife.946072_10201932307683034_1184610519_n

20 Responses to Hippie Days and Wheelers Ranch Commune

  1. Daniel Marble January 31, 2017 at 6:24 am #

    I spent two weeks at Wheelers
    Ranch back in 1970 or 71
    Years later someone told me it was a nudist colony and I thought
    Imagine that. Here I spent two weeks with, I didn’t count heads,
    But it seems to me 100 naked humans sharing food and good
    Humor and it never entered my mind that that was a nudist colony

    • Ted Silbert March 16, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

      It was a commune. With some nude chicks around

      But it was awsome

      • Ann Bennett Laramie July 24, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

        Ted. Do you have a picture of yourself? I was called snake pit annie and lived with snake pit eddie and I was there 1969 through when the land was closed in 1973, I think!

        • Robert Johnston August 7, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

          i remember snakepit eddie he always encouraged me to play my harmonica ! im Kickapoo bobs son Bobby.

          • Dorothy November 23, 2017 at 4:49 am #

            I remember your father, he and Nick were friends.

        • Kathy November 16, 2018 at 6:18 pm #

          I was known as Kathy and Steve and our son was Jason. IOU’s house was at the back of the land near Snake Pit Eddy. 😊

    • Ann Bennett Laramie July 24, 2017 at 9:14 pm #

      It was not a nudist colony. We just happened to take our clothes off, sometimes. It was a place young people were looking for an alternative to how things are now, a life that didn’t (doesn’t) make any sense. We lived communally, which helped with the day to day survival necessary with voluntary primitivism. No electricity, no running water, no computers, and it was Open Land to which no one was denied access. All kinds of wonderful things were the result.
      Nudity wasn’t a big deal. We were not ashamed of the human body.
      Hope this helps

  2. Ted Silbert March 16, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    My friends and I were there in the summer of 1970
    We pulled in in a full sized schoolbus multi colored
    Outside and hippie painted inside. About 30 of us were on the bus. If anybody remembers we had the awsome sound system that drew all the people there in. It was one hell of an experience.


  3. morning star bedell July 22, 2017 at 7:21 am #

    I was born there in may 68 under a tree the first baby born there my mom said we lived there for 2 -3 years the stories my mom told me! Wonder im alive! Still have the scars on my head from the rooster there named me morning star after morning star commune in the area dont kmow who my dad was different times…

  4. Bill cloud August 4, 2017 at 11:44 pm #

    Does anyone remember Ron and Trisha cloud and their daughter Cathy. They did a stay at the land in the early 70s.

  5. Frankatecas August 5, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

    I find myself in S.F. remininesing on a different time in the 60’s and 70’s.I lived in my VW bus with my tapestry head liner. I am now 68 but those experiences have shaped the person I am today (for better or worse, I like to think better). When my wife and I leave here we will drive up the coast and travel back in time. We live in the moment but always have good thoughts of a different time. Peace

  6. Ed Yazijian October 10, 2017 at 4:48 pm #


    I came to Wheeler’s Ranch when I was 17 years old with Peter and Debbie Corbett and lived through a summer, fall and winter in 1972-3, I think. I had read Alicia Bay Laurel’s book in high school and hoped to meet her and Ramon Sender, but they were elsewhere at the time. I wanted to learn music from Ramon after reading that he was one of the co-founders of the San Francisco Tape Music Center. I mostly lived with Connie (Rachel) for a while (she was like a big sister to me) and was lucky to have played music with Snake Pit Eddie. He was very generous–He gave me a violin and taught me a lot about free improvisation. Other folks I remember were O B Ray, Lee and Judy, David and Gloria, Dickie (he made a really cool earring for me), a drummer named Rex, and a guy whose name I forgot who always wore a camelhair coat, loved opera, and played piano like Cecil Taylor. I also lived with a woman named Mary for a short time in a beautiful cabin with stained glass overlooking the east canyon. Wheeler’s was like nowhere else in the world I’ve ever been. It was a great experience to live there. Love to all!

  7. shushan November 15, 2017 at 11:43 pm #

    I lived at wheelers in 1970. I liked that there were more people there than most communes and less stuctured. I used to milk the cow in the morning. I lived down th goat pen trail in a teehee with an 18 year old couple named Michael and Nancy. I was dandelion then. I was 15, later I lived in this structure covered with a parachute further down the trail with a woman my age named Linda. It was such a wholesome place really. It’s nice to see these other people who remember it fondly also. I got busted in Santa Rosa in 1971 so had to leave..
    I went back to visit Nancy sometimes after that. What a great place

  8. Dorothy November 23, 2017 at 4:42 am #

    Searching for anyone that may have known Annie, she was a medium build Black women.

    • Robert Northcutt February 23, 2018 at 10:11 pm #

      Was Annie black, and was her boyfriend, Nick, a white guy from Fla.and played congo drums? If so I knew Annie as I played music with Nick and we had a little band on Wheelers.

  9. Tom February 8, 2018 at 12:15 am #

    Bill’s passing came as quite a shock to me. A true end-of-an-era. I lived at the ranch form 1969-1972 and again from 1976-1982. I was partnered with a guy named David and we were about the only gay men there in those first years. During my second time there, fully half the folks there were gay. I noticed how the article in the Press Democrat failed to mention that anyone lived there besides Bill in the days after the land was bulldozed. In fact, there was a fairly stable group of about twenty living when I left in ’82. The ranch was a transformative time in my life and is largely responsible for who I am now. I learned so much there during my time. To this day they are some of my fondest memories.

    • Robert Northcutt February 23, 2018 at 10:18 pm #

      Hi Tom-I think I remember you. I’m Robbie, the silver flute player. I also drove the bus alot, to take folks to town to shop. Me and Coyote as my “co-driver,” or beer handler etc. I was there all of 71′–miss the place at times. So peaceful and relaxing. Tad chilly at night though. Sorry about Bill’s passing. The man had a good heart and helped me alot to slow down and take it all in. It was a great place to do that, so close to the buslting crazy city of SF. Great place to unwind and decompress, and drop a little Owsley from time to time!

    • Amy Joynt May 27, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

      Hello this is Melanie Joynt from Wheeler’s!!! Remember me????

  10. Amy Joynt May 27, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

    Hi I’m Melanie Joynt remember me?!!! I lived at Wheelers with my small family in the late 70’s. Gave birth to my son on the land.

  11. Ed Cady June 21, 2018 at 12:45 am #

    Hi, I’m Ed Cady. early in 1972, myself & 3 other fellows left North Conway NH and drove to Morningstar in my 1956 chevy and arrived late at Saturday night. The next day, we were able to get full time evening shift jobs at the local cider mill as we had previous experience. So we were economically self supportive and could share a lot of free cider and vinegar with the commune and regularly contribute to the tin can. Early on we moved to Wheeler ranch and had a well tarped roof roped to a circular cluster of redwood trees so our walls were 4-5 ft thick live trees. This was a fine home for 6 months. I enjoyed helping in the gardens and using my car for errands and emergencies, I drove up the 1.5 miles access road a few times, big taboo. I remember a fine woman, maybe Susan? who was from Ohio who lived with me for awhile. Later I met a finer woman in Monte Rio and moved in with her at her nearby ranch. Around November got a Western Union telegram from my mom begging me to return to New England because my father had a heart attack and they did not think he would make it. So I drove non-stop to NE in 2.5 days, just stopping for gas and food to go. I never went back but it was the best time with best people, all learning to live with each other in the very open. Ironically, my nephew is getting married in Occidental or nearby and I will take some extra time to revisit all of the former haunts. Love and peace again for all of the people in this enlighten and magical area of Sonoma. Currently I’m near Astoria OR. Peace, Love and Tie-dye forever!

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