Eureka’s Stump House, c.1910

September 30, 2020
Source: County of Humboldt Collection

I’ve posted about the Stump House before (which was located on Broadway, near Washington, in Eureka) but have since found the earlier photo above- plus the 1930’s photo and description below….

Source, California State Library

History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915

RODNEY BURNS REDWOOD NOVELTY CO. — About the beginning of the twentieth century Rodney Burns established a wholesale business in redwood novelties and built a factory at Eureka, where in February of 1911 he formed a copartnership with J. Earl Clark and established a retail department for local sales and for a mail order business that since has maintained a satisfactory growth. The history of the business is an epitome of continuous success most gratifying to the proprietors and to all the people of Eureka. At the San Francisco Land Show held in September, 1913. the company had a large exhibit and received a gold medal, while their famous bowl has received awards at the California state and local fairs. A specimen of their products may be seen in the Field museum at Chicago as well as in the Ferry building, San Francisco, while department stores and curio shops in many of the Pacific coast cities carry a full line of their novelties.

The Stump House which was conceived and created by Rodney Burns and his associates in Eureka is a structure resembling a mammoth redwood log as it lies in the forest after being felled. A unique entrance adds to the attractiveness of the institution. Within the strange building is an array of manufactured articles such as can be found nowhere else except in establishments directly supplied from the Stump House. All tourists visiting Eureka visit the factory and purchase a redwood burl souvenir, which they state is, in its varied forms, the most useful and least expensive of any souvenir to be found throughout the country. Magazines frequently publish articles descriptive of the interesting enterprise on the corner of Broadway and Clark street. Perhaps no story of the place has roused a wider interest than that by Harriet Williams Myers published in the St. Nicholas of June, 1913, from which we quote as follows:

“One of the most interesting natural deformities is the so called hurl, a growth found on the walnut and other trees, among them the redwood trees of Northern California. It is said to be the result of disease and makes an ungainly lump on the tree. The largest that has ever been found grew around the base of the tree and measured twenty five feet in circumference and eighteen feet in height. It was hollow, the walls being from two to six feet thick. The tree itself was only about six feet in diameter. A burl of this size is of rare occurrence. Only one tree in every four or five hundred in the forest is thus affected and only about one burl in every thirty five is perfect, these perfect forms being beautifully marked with darker veins and spots, in circular patterns, reminding one somewhat of the curly birch or maple. The wood is susceptible of a high polish and is made into table tops, picture. frames, bowls, plates, napkin rings, vases and other objects. There is in Eureka, Humboldt county, Cal., a unique house made for the sale of these burl articles. It consists of the stump and log of a giant Sequoia. The log, at the end of which one enters, is forty feet long and sixteen feet in diameter, while the stump standing beside it is twenty feet in diameter. From the log room one enters the work room of the establishment, while the big, circular stump room contains the finished articles for sale.”

An injury to the trees, such as forest fires, insect attacks, gnawing of animals or excessive pruning, stimulates the growth of dormant buds or gives rise to a great many new ones which cannot develop into branches, but do form a gnarly and interwoven mass of woody tissue of very intricate design. The wood thus formed is very dense and hard. Inside the bark the burl is covered with spiny warts at the points where the buds emerge. The largest and most beautiful of all burls occurs on the redwood tree. At rare intervals in a redwood forest is found a tree bearing this growth, either around the base of the tree or high up on the trunk. Most of these are plain grained wood and but a small proportion possess the beautiful figure that makes the burl so valuable. The beauty of the redwood burl lies in its diversity of grain and richness of color. The variety of figuring in this wood is remarkable. Nearly every burl has a distinct pattern and this varies greatly in different parts of the same burl. The color varies from a rich dark red to a light pinkish shade. Much of the burl has a strong brownish cast resembling walnut, but some parts are light in color and others will match the deepest shades of mahogany. Redwood burl is handled and sold by board measurement and each one averages as a rule from five hundred to fifteen hundred board feet, but occasionally there is found a very large burl. In 1911 the Rodney Burns Redwood Novelty Company cut one scaling over ten thousand board feet. On account of the irregular shape and the small size of the ordinary burl, it is very difficult to get large pieces, and when found they are valued very highly. The products of the company include nut bowls, serving trays, fruit bowls, vases, cribbage boards, gavels, candle sticks, natural edged picture frames, pedestals, tabourettes, tables, match holders, napkin rings, pin cushions, cigar jars, pin trays, canes, pipes, ash trays, darners, paper weights and darning eggs, all of them very ornamental and many of them also to be valued for their practical utility.

The History of the 1918 Spanish Flu (and COVID-19) in Humboldt County (OLLI Class Oct. 1)

September 20, 2020
historic photo of three people during the 1918 influenza pandemic

On October 1, I will be teaching this class through Humboldt State University’s OLLI program (see more about OLLI below).

Class Description: Learn about the 1918 Spanish flu in Humboldt County, how it developed, the strategies undertaken to stop the epidemic, and the community impact. Then see how similar strategies, including masking, social distancing, non-essential business closures and more, are being employed against COVID-19 today.

Date/Time: Thurs., Oct. 1 • 2-4 p.m.

Offered Online – $20 • Class #: 43946


More about OLLI: At the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Humboldt State University (OLLI at HSU), everyone benefits from lifelong learning. Our mission is to create opportunities for academic engagement, civic involvement, personal growth and fun. By offering a myriad of classes and experiences for a vibrant community of learners aged 50 and better, OLLI delivers learning for a lifetime.

Humboldt Brewery (and Stable), Broadway, Eureka

September 20, 2020
Source: HSU Special Collection
HSU Special Collection

Notice the two boys, lower left in the photo above. It looks like they were there to work…?

Sanborn 1920 Map
1920 Sanborn Map
Thanks Google
Source: HSU Special Collection

I found the following great background on the brewery HERE

HUMBOLDT BREWING COMPANY. – The history of the Humboldt Brewing Company dates back to experiences that involved its stockholders in financial losses and made the plant a losing factor in the industrial development of Eureka, but recent years have witnessed a change in the entire mode of operation and new owners with new methods of manufacture and with the most modern devices of equipment have transformed the hitherto unprofitable investment into a popular and profitable enterprise. The Humboldt Brewing Company is headed by the Zobeleins of Los Angeles, the officers being as follows: George Zobelein, president; Edward Zobelein, vice president; William Kramer, secretary; and Philip Zobelein, treasurer.

The early history of the brewery shows a frequent change of ownership and a complete lack of success. The first step toward later success occurred with the purchase of the plant, then known as the Eureka brewery and situated on First street, by John U. Haltinner, July 8, 1895, seven years after which A. Johnson became a partner. During the summer of 1904 Messrs. Palmatag and Cressman bought the grounds forming the site of the present brewery on Broadway. They began to build and had the brewery perhaps one half completed when discord arose between them and they sold out to Max Kuehnrich of Los Angeles, who purchased the plant. January 17, 1905, Messrs. Johnson and Haltinner, who owned two small brewing plants, sold them to Mr. Kuehnrich, and in 1905 the present company was incorporated and took over the plant. In 1907, when the Zobeleins acquired the Los Angeles Brewing Company plant, they also acquired the Humboldt Brewing Company plant. In March, 1911, John R. Hagen, after a long experience with the Los Angeles Brewing Company, brewers of the famous East Side beer, was transferred to Eureka and given charge of the plant, and since the advent of Mr. Hagen as manager the output has been increased and the business has doubled in volume, with every prospect for continued development under his capable supervision. Only one fourth of the capacity of fifty thousand barrels is in use at present, so that the plant will bear a remarkable expansion of business before its capacity will be exhausted, and there is every reason to believe that with such a manager as Mr. Hagen progress will be permanent and development assured. The company manufactures exclusively for wholesale and retail dealers in Humboldt county and bottlers and distributors elsewhere. Purity is the watchword of the concern and its manager has been called the “patron of purity” on account of his determination to turn out nothing but a pure product. He exercises the greatest care in purchasing malt or hops and in employing a competent brewer, nor is he less concerned as to the purity of the water used in the manufacture of the beer. To provide this requisite the company bored its own wells and regularly makes tests for the purpose of preserving the uniformity necessary to satisfy not only its own code of purity, but as well its maintenance of a commercial standard. Through the alert and efficient management, the plant has been developed from a losing proposition to a valuable unit in the industrial prosperity of Eureka.

History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915

Humboldt’s Volunteer Relief Workers- Then and Now

September 18, 2020

Humboldt County has a long history of supporting those in need during challenging times, as clearly illustrated by the photo above. It was taken during the 1964 “Christmas Flood”.

In 2020, I am fortunate enough to work in economic and workforce development, where I hear every day about the various individuals and organizations (like the local Red Cross, Pay it Forward Humboldt and Cooperation Humboldt) who are offering support to those affected by the pandemic – AND the wildfires.

I am so thankful to live in Humboldt.

Volunteers with Pay it Forward Humboldt

“The Gift Shop” (with Burhl Novelties), F Street, Eureka

September 17, 2020
Source: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Please click on the image to see some great details. The intentionally uninterested guy in the back is pretty funny…

I have no date for the image, nor can I find anything about “The Gift Shop” in Eureka. I welcome any info folks can find….

Highest single spile trestle in the world (c. 1908)

September 15, 2020
Source: HSU Special Collection

Humboldt County has always had a lot of firsts. We had the first railroad in California. And apparently the worlds largest “single spile trestle”, which was built around 1908. According to Logging Railroads of Humboldt and Mendocino County, written by Katy Tajha, train engineers didn’t like to cross because it “wobbled”. Who could blame them?

More information about the trestle above:
“Highest single spile trestle in the world being over 100 ft.” (110) Photo A.W. Ericson, Arcata. Conrad S. Bullwinkle had rented the ranch to his nephew, Herman Balke (father of this collector). The trestle crossed Little River Valley and crossed Balke Creek at the start of the canyon 1/2 to 3/4 miles south of Bulwinkle. It gradually rose to Dows Prairie then joined the Carson line who took the cars on to town. || Jerry Rohde (August 2013) states “Daily Humboldt Standard of March 20, 1908, page 3, indicates that the subject of the photos ‘the big trestle, will be completed by Saturday night.'”

And more information about trestles offered by this Mendocino Rail History Website :

Timber trestles were one of the few railroad bridge forms that did not develop in Europe. The reason was that in the United States and Canada cheap lumber was widespread and readily available in nearby forests. The Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and the province of British Columbia, Canada became the central region for hundreds of logging railroads whose bridges were almost all made of timber Howe trusses and trestles.

Timber trestles generally come in two forms. The first and most common is the pile trestle which consists of bents spaced 12 to 16 feet apart. Each bent consists of 3 to 5 round timber poles that are pounded straight into the ground by a pile driver. The centre post is upright, the two inner posts are angles at about 5 degrees and the outside posts are usually battered, angling outward for stability at about ten degrees. During construction, the top of the uneven posts are cut to the proper level for a cap which in turn supports the stringers and planks that hold the rail. Taller pile trestles contain diagonal “X” bracing across one or both sides of the bent and also between bents.

For higher timber trestles, the framed bent is used. Unlike pile bents, frame bents usually use square timbers and rest on mud sills or sub sills that act as a foundation. Frame bents are built in a series of “stories” that are usually between 10 and 50 feet high. For extremely high trestles, each section of the bent is built flat on the ground as a single or double story and then lifted and placed onto the ever lengthening trestle.

None of the dozen or so highest timber bridges of all time exist anymore. Nearly half of these 200 foot high monsters were built for logging railroads in the U.S. state of Washington and on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. For the lumber industry, rail lines were usually little more than a web of dead end tracks blanketed across the contour lines of a forested mountainside. Once the terrain was logged out, the tracks were abandoned. Since lumber was easy to find and abundant, it could quickly be cut on-site into tall piles or bents. With nothing built to last, construction standards were often low. Expensive bridges, especially those made of steel, were avoided by the loggers.

Early timber bridges had their drawbacks. Untreated lumber only lasted about 20 years and locomotives could easily cause the wood to catch fire. Collapses – rare today – were a regular occurrence on logging railroads and there are numerous accounts of train crews that regularly hopped off their slow moving locomotive as it approached a high, untrustworthy trestle, allowing it to cross before they would then run across the bridge and jump back on. On main lines that carried passengers and freight, tall timber bridges reduced efficiency as trains had to cross them at slower speeds. Initially they were a quick way to get the route open but once established, the owners usually had them replaced with steel bridges or filled.

Without trestles to bridge the “gaps” the logging companies would have had a hard time. Trestles, in more ways than one carried the logging industry. Look at the pictures (left and right) of these two incredible trestles.

Minor’s Granite Quarry

September 13, 2020

I walked through the Myrtle Grove Cemetery the other day, where volunteers have worked hard to restore this little piece of Humboldt history and noticed the (huge) Vance mausoleum- which reminded me of Isaac Minor’s mausoleum in Arcata, (which I have post about before).

Which reminded me of Minor’s granite quarry, which I’ve also posted about before, but am guessing many folks have never heard of.

Which prompted me to do a google search about the quarry- which turned up more fun photos….


And a lot of information about Isaac Minor’s Quarry HERE . I

have copied it below for those who don’t want to click on another link…

Arcata (near), Humboldt County, California – Isaac Minor Granite Quarry (Granite) (Excerpt from Report XIV of the State Mineralogist – Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report – Biennial Period 1913-1914, Part III. “The Counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino,” by Walter W. Bradley, Field Assistant (field work in August, 1913), California State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, California, 1916, pp. 371-425.)

Isaac Minor Quarry. This quarry consists of granite suitable for building purposes and is situated on Warren Creek which is a tributary of Mad River in T. 6 N., R. 1 E. Although the rock is suitable for building purposes, yet granite used in the county for such purposes as monuments is imported from other parts of California. There is so little construction going on in the county that requires a good building stone that the quarries, or rather the prospective quarries, have not been developed. The only rock being used at present is that used for road metal and for the federal work on the harbor jetty.”

  • Arcata (near), Humbodt County, California – the Isaac Minor Granite Quarry (Granite) (from The Timberman, Vol. 16, No. 10, August 1915, M. Freeman Publications, Portland, Oregon, pp. 62.  (This magazine is available on Google Books.)“The landing apron which has been used at the south jetty has been transferred across the entrance to Humboldt Bay to the north spit.  The next transfer will be that of the gallows frame and counterweights, and as soon as these have been set up on the mainland of the north spit the apron will be placed permanently in position.  It has been announced that the north jetty is to be built of Humboldt granite, procured from the Warren Creek quarries belonging to I. Minor, who formerly operated the Minor Mill & Lumber Co.’s plant at Glendale.  The Pacific Engineering Co., rock contractors for the Humboldt jetty work, procured the rock for the south jetty from Jacoby Creek, but it has been decided to make the north spit of the granite, which will be delivered by rail to Bucksport, directly opposite the jetty.  From there it will be taken on rock barges.  Kenneth McAlpine has resigned as superintendent of the Pacific Engineering Co., and will be succeeded by H. K. McJunklin, who held the position before it was taken over by McAlpine.”
  • Arcata (near), Humboldt County, California – Isaac Minor’s “Granite Mountain Rock Quarry Railroad” (aka the Warren Creek Railroad)  The following snippet is from The Western Railroader, for The Western Railfan, Vols. 21-22, Northern California Railroad Club, California, Nevada Railroad Historical Society, Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Railroad Boosters, San Francisco, F.A. Guido, 1957, on Google Books.“…Isaac Minor started construction in 1912 on his Granite Mountain Rock Quarry Railroad, later known as the Warren Creek Railroad.”
  • Arcata (near), Humboldt County, California – Granite from the Isaac Minor Granite Quarry used to construct the I. Minor Mausoleum  (from Thomas Minor, descendants, 1608-1981, by John A. Miner, 1981.  (A snippet of this book is available on Google Books.)According to Thomas Minor, Descendants, 1608-1981, in the John A. Miner (sic) section:  “She died in Aracata, Homboldt Co., California.  Isaac died 11 December 1916.  Both are buried in the Miner Mausoleum, Greenwood Cemetery in Arcata.  It was constructed of granite from Isaac’s own quarry and under his supervision….”You can view a photograph of the I. Minor Mausoleum in Greenwood Cemetery, Arcata, California, by Julia.Green.67on
  • Arcata (near), Humboldt County, California – the Isaac Minor Granite Quarry (Granite)  (from Logging the Redwoods, by Lynwood Carranco and John T. Labbe, 4th ed., reprint, Caxton Press, 1975, ISBN0870043730, 9780870043734, pp. 94.  (This portion of the book is available on Google Books.)Logging the Redwoods includes a short description of Isaac Minor’s life and photographs of him and of the Minor Mill & Lumber Co. at Glendale, near the Mad River, late 1880s.  (The photographs are from the Humboldt State University.)“In 1875 he (Isaac Minor) sold his interest in these (lumber) mills to his sons and moved north to Mad River, where he continued his lumbering activities.  He also had interests…a granite quarry…He became one of the wealthiest men in California….He died at Arcata on December 11, 1915….”
  • Arcata (near), Humboldt County, California – Isaac Minor Quarry (Granite)  (The following snippet is from The American West, Vols. 12-13, Western History Association, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, American West Publishing Company, 1975, pp. 37. (The below snippet is available on Google Books.)“The Isaac Minor quarry was a monument to the dedication of a single man. Minor, nearing the end of his life and wealthy beyond his needs, imported Italian quarrymen to Humboldt County to split and section the huge granite boulder shown….”
  • Arcata (near), Humboldt County, California – Isaac Minor Quarry (Granite)  (The following excerpt is from Fine California Views:  the Photographs of A. W. Ericson, by Peter E. Palmquist, Interface California Corporation, Eureka, 1975, pp. 94.(photo caption)  “The Isaac Minor quarry was a monument to the dedication of a single man, Minor, nearing the end of his life and wealth beyond his needs, imported Italian quarrymen to Humboldt County to split and section the huge granite boulder shown above for use in the construction of his mausoleum.  To provide transport for the stone from the quarry to the cemetery to Arcata, a special railroad spur was added to the Arcata and Mad River Railroad, and the huge blocks of stone were shipped to the construction site.  Upon completion of the edifice, Minor survived the burial of many of his kin, only to die on a trip outside the area.  He is believed to be the only member of his family not buried in the tomb.”
  • Arcata Area, Humboldt County, California – Isaac Minor & brothers – “The Four Minor brothers All contributed to area development” and other related articles (pdf), in The Humboldt Historian, Vol. 37, No. 2, May-June 1989)  (Other articles in this publication that relate to Isaac Minor and his family include:  “Minors to pay tribute to Isaac:  Sixth biennial reunion to focus on leading role in community affairs” and  “Old theatre keeps Minor name alive.”)
  • Arcata (near), Humboldt County, California – Isaac Minor’s “Granite Mountain Rock Quarry Railroad”  (from California Railroads: An Encyclopedia of Cable Car, Common Carrier, Horsecar, Industrial Interurban, Logging, Monorail, Motor Road, Shortlines, Streetcar, Switching, and Terminal Railroads in California (1851-1992), by Alvin A. Fickewirth, Golden West Books, 1992, ISBN 0870951068, 9780870951060, pp. 82.  (This snippet is available on Google Books.)“…Isaac Minor built a mill on Warren Creek…Operated under the name Granite Mountain Rock Quarry Railroad.  Ceased operations in 1917….”

Revival of the Holy Trinity Church in Trinidad (repost)

September 10, 2020

From this…

Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Trinidad (built in 1872)

To this…

After restoration

After restoration

I don’t know who was involved in restoring the old church, but the results are nothing short of amazing.

2020 update: I thought today would be a good day to post a reminder that often things look bleak, but people pull together and recover…..

Arcata, 1857

September 8, 2020

Source: Omnia

In my search for more information on this photo I ran across this old story in the Arcata Eye about early Union/Arcata.