From the Arcata Wharf to the Marina Center

HSU Special Collection. Film 78 - Arcata Wharf

Arcata Wharf

Humboldt Bay has always been viewed as an important commercial asset for Humboldt County.

In 1855, the Union Plank Walk and Rail Track Company completed construction of a wharf and railroad that ran from the Arcata Plaza and down into the bay about two miles This wharf allowed ships to load and unload cargo during any tide. [Source here

Many of the goods brought into the area were immediately packed onto mules and taken to the thousands of waiting gold miners working the inland rivers.  As the logging industry grew, the wharf was often used to ship logs out of the county and into lumber hungry ports in other areas.

Arcata’s wharf is gone now-though I wasn’t able to find anything that told me why.  A storm… neglect.  Remnants are still visible from the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.  

Many people still believe in Humboldt Bay’s viability as a commercial port.

Eureka is working to develop their wharf, with a fisherman’s terminal, commercial and residential areas as well as the Arkley’s “Marina Center”.   The Marina Center developer says  that the center will “clean up and restore a degraded parcel of land and create a better environment, community and economy for Eureka.”  Those folks hope the new commercial center will give the community a much needed boost.

Detractors fear that options haven’t been explored enough.   That folks are jumping too quick without considering other uses for the space… that the increased traffic and other impacts won’t be addressed and that the development will hurt the community more than it will help.

I won’t pretend to know enough of the details to give an educated opinion about the Marina Center, but I do know our economy is hurting.  If someone had a better idea for the area, they should have stepped up and DONE something about it.  Talk is easy… investing in an idea is something else entirely.  I don’t remember people fighting over each other to risk their own money on a development.


3 Responses to From the Arcata Wharf to the Marina Center

  1. Kathy says:

    I just found this quote about the natural history of the Balloon Tract. Some guy *grin* is being quoted about what he has learned:
    “I’ve been stunned to learn about the true history and reality of the Balloon Tract, that actually half of it was part of Humboldt Bay, that within the past 60 years it was part of the bay, and that part that wasn’t part of the bay was mud flats,” he said, holding out a large black-and-white photograph of a watery Balloon Tract. “I’d been led to believe that this had been a railyard since the 1800’s, but based on this 1948 picture, they had just started filling in the Balloon Tract in 1948 with dredgings from the bay.

    “Sixty or seventy years ago, Clark Slough was a large freshwater stream that flowed all the way from a spring near Bucksport to the Balloon Tract,” he continued. “This area was an important part of the ecosystem of Humboldt Bay. There’s a historical document, in which railroad passengers were complaining to the railroad about the naked children swimming in Clark Slough. Now the slough is just a little culvert, going under Waterfront Drive. That gives you an idea as to how much the environment has changed over this 60-year period of time.”

    • lynette77 says:

      Eh, I’m mixed here. So, so much of the local landscape has changed, and we can’t blame a developer that wants to take advantage of the current landscape–and certainly can’t hold that person responsible for the damage done before…

      I understand people distrusting and even resenting someone with a lot of money who uses that money to get their own personal passion projects done–but let’s face it, how else do things get done? If it wasn’t for big ego projects and folks with the funds to finanace them, much of Eureka would still be the ugly thoroughfare you just tried to drive through fast…

  2. […] Yesterday I wrote about the Arcata wharf and railroad.  According to the City of Arcata Website, the first “train” for that railroad was a four-wheel car powered by a single horse. […]

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