You’ve probably heard of the Hearst Castle, the magnificent residence of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. But have you heard of the Hearst family’s vacation home on the McCloud River?
Wyntoon is the name of Hearst’s castle along the McCloud River, just above the McCloud Reservoir that was named after the local Wintu tribe. The land was a fishing lodge and hunting resort in the wilderness along what is now Highway 89 before it was purchased by William’s mother, Phoebe Hearst, and renovated into a grand residence. In 1902, it cost Phoebe $100,000 to build her dream vacation home at Wyntoon. Below is a picture of the living room from 1906:
While William summered at the resort as a kid, he eventually had five sons and they spent their summers there as well. William even wrote about the sharp dangers of the wilderness in the area after his son nearly drowned in the McCloud River.
William inherited much of the family’s massive wealth, except the Wyntoon castle, to which he was deeply disheartened. He purchased it from his cousin for $200,000 in 1925, and to add insult to injury, the house burned down in 1929. William eventually built a much grander castle after the fire, which is the residence that stands today. Time magazine reported William’s losses reached up to $500,000 for the Northern California property.
Here is a picture of the old castle:
And here it stands following the rebuild from William:
Today, the castle is still privately owned by the Hearst Corporation and is not open to the public. Rafters and kayakers can still get a glimpse of the historic residence from the McCloud River:
The castle stands as a historic landmark representing the development of our area from the late 1800’s. Unfortunately, it also stands as a representation of NorCal’s conflicted past. Either way, it’s still one heck of a view from the McCloud River.