In 1852, when William and Thomas Potter and Mose Briggs first entered what would be known as Potter Valley, they were searching for the headwaters of the Russian River from their base in Sonoma County. The Pomo People called it Ba-lo Kai. They found three Pomo villages (each about 500 people strong), the Russian headwaters, and a lush valley with wild oats “stirrup high”. Eventually the Potters returned to settle there, and the valley became known by the American ranchers’ name.
Potter Valley is located just northeast of Ukiah and Lake Mendocino in Mendocino County, with the valley floor at roughly 1,200 ft elevation. The headwaters of the East Fork of the Russian River originate in the valley. Potter Valley is a rich agricultural region, with excellent soils, planted mostly in irrigated pasture, wine grapes, and pears, but supporting a wide variety of farms and ranches. The post office opened in 1870, Guinness McFadden moved here in 1970… and the rest is history.