Eureka in 1854

 According to the City of Eureka website, the Ryan and Duff Mill was the first successful lumber mill in Eureka and was powered by a beached steamboat.


17 Responses to Eureka in 1854

  1. random guy says:

    first thing looking at this does is put the woodley island massacre, which happened 6 years after this painting was made (and eureka was founded only 5 years before), in a clearer perspective. 150 years ago, Humboldt County had an entirely different native/immigrant population, with a practical flip-flop of today’s ratio. Local white immigrants had just begun the next phase of changing their living status from “settlement” to being the ruling establishment of the area. Humboldt is unique in its national history as being one of the last areas where white folk beat back the native folk to take their land. The whole nation would be taken very shortly after…in 1912 a complete 48 connected states spanning coast to coast. The army that called itself the federal government had taken over everything, and they still own it all today.

  2. dorine says:

    @Random Guy…the massacre didn’t happen on Woodley Island (which probably wasn’t around when this painting was made since I was told it is a built island from all the ballasts from ships and it now houses the Marina). The massacre happened on Indian Island…also known as Gunther Island…that’s the larger island in the bay with the egret rookery on it. I heard that the Wiyots believe that the egrets are the souls of the people that died on the island that day.
    Tho I do tend to agree with the rest of your post…
    The thing that really struck me about this painting is that the trees apparently came all the way down to the bay? I always pictured it more marshy like…

    • Lynette M says:

      Thanks for clarifying things for ‘Random’ re: Indian Island.
      I hadn’t heard that Woodley Island was fill. I’ll have to check into that.

      • dorine says:

        I was talking to some old timer that had made a DVD about Humboldt history (he was trying to get it into stores)….he could’ve been full of it…but it seemed to me like he knew what he was talking about with the other bits of info we talked about. Maybe I’ll check at the Maritime Museum.

        • Lynette M says:

          I would love to hear the details about that DVD !!! You never know what fascinating information may be lurking in someone’s head, project or library. Please let us know what you learn !

  3. random guy says:

    wow…well I learn something new every day…I’ve always thought woodley island and indian island were one and the same…I’m totally unaware of their distinction in history, gotta lookitup. I know indian island (I’ll have to stop synonymously refering to it as woodley) has been around at least a thousand years…

    Yeah, it’s crazy to think that the almost the whole bay used to look more like big lagoon with all the trees and no development around it.

    • Lynette M says:

      It is amazing to look at how much settlers altered the place . I’ll try to dig up more early, early photos/drawings.

      • random guy says:

        I’m curious what the bay looked like 50 years after this…around 1900. I bet the bulk amount of clearcutting the flatlands happened then. To think people born into the painting above were living in Dick Tracy land on the flipside of their lifespan…at least that was the scene in any big city of the time.

        • Lynette M says:

          Hi Random Guy,
          I do have at least one photo from the early 1900s, but I think I’ll post my old town Eureka photos consecutively so that you can get the full effect. 1864 is next…

  4. Hans says:

    Woodley Island’s always been there. It’s my understanding that the boilers from the Steamship that powered the Ryan and Duff mill are the boilers you see just behind the NOAA building on Woodley Island today-they’re just on the other side of the fence as you come onto Woodley Island. I remember many years ago doing carpentry on the Eagle House at 2nd and C Streets and under the floor joists are the remains of old growth Redwood stumps confirming the Forest right down to the waterline on the bay.

    • Lynette M says:

      That is so very cool. I think we’d be amazed at the pieces of historic evidence that surround us everyday… we just can’t see them buried under roads or buildings. I keep digging up old pieces of ceramic in my garden and would give anything to know why someone kept throwing old dishes in the yard !
      And I’ll have to look for the boilers. I had no idea.

  5. random guy says:

    Hans, that’s cool that at least the stumps were left…do you know if they’re still there? During times of the year, when the tide is right, pretty much anywhere along the beach at prairie creek you can come across 6ft.+ diameter stumps that had been axed ages ago…not driftwood either. Crazy to see such a massive stump on a beach with surf washing over it, closest tall trees anywhere being 2nd and 3rd generation groves at least a quarter mile away. But you could come back to the same spot a week later and the whole beach might look different…everything buried in sand for awhile.

    • Hans says:

      I would imagine the stumps are still under the Eagle House. They were way to big to remove. We were surprised ourselves. I guess in the old days they beached a steamship right at what’s now the foot of C St. and started an impromptu mill there. I’m sure some research would be able to confirm that-Ray Hillman would know for sure.

  6. Ross Rowley says:

    Please don’t think Eureka and Arcata are the great anomoly when it comes to early California settlements. It would be curious to see early photos of Santa Cruz, Crescent City, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, etc. Why would it break hearts to see old growth redwoods gone in the photographs? What would have been the alternative? To never have built Eureka in the first place? Or Arcata, or Blue Lake or Ferndale or Garberville? Besides the horror of the local genocide which is an absolute atrocity, I’ve never understood the deeply emotional aversion to any settlement occurance.

    • Lynette M says:

      Oh, I think it would have been possible to have communities without consuming the natural resources to such an extreme extent. But, as the caption I posted the other day shows, folks didn’t set out to deplete the trees, etc. The awareness just wasn’t there.

      And if the population had stayed as small, and the logging operations as inefficient as they were, resources may have lasted much longer. Progress does have it’s price…

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