The Londons on a Houseboat in Humboldt Bay, 1911

January 31, 2021

During writer Jack London and his wife Charmian’s VISIT and TOUR of Eureka in 1911, they were apparently invited to stay on former Eureka Mayor H.L. Ricks’ houseboat, the Harbor Rest, which was moored on Humboldt Bay. I had no idea there were ever houseboats on Humboldt Bay, especially over 100 years ago…

London Collection, Huntington Library

The Ricks family often used the boat for entertaining…

Jack & Charmian London Tour Sequoia Park

January 30, 2021

The location of this photo looked familiar and sure enough….

Apparently on the Londons’ adventure through Humboldt County in 1911 they took a tour through Eureka’s Sequoia Park…

Iif you click on the photos to enlarge, you’ll see the same hanging lights, tree scars and fence posts on both London’s and the HSU pictures. I couldn’t find an HSU pic with the same angle as London’s, but it is definitely the same place…

Jack and Charmian London, Huntington Collection
HSU Special Collection
HSU Special Collection

Jack & Charmian London in Eureka

January 30, 2021
Jack and Charmian London, Huntington Library

The fight between celebrated writer Jack London and Stanwood Murphy, son of Pacific Lumber Company owner Simon Murphy, at Eureka’s Oberon Grill in 1910 (or 1911) is the stuff that local legends are made of. According to a letter written by eye witness Hap Waters, the fight started over politics and ended with both men in the hospital recovering from their wounds.

Stories of the fight fail to mention that London’s wife Charmian had traveled with him to Humboldt and that Eureka was only one of many stops the adventurous couple made along the west coast during that time.

The Huntington Library has an amazing collection of London’s photos, including many from Humboldt County. More coming soon….

Empire Theater, Admission 5 or 10 Cents

January 25, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collection

Please click to enlarge the photo to see the ladies (and the gents behind them) in their finest….

Update: I just got confirmation that the theater used to be located where the addition to the Clark Museum is now- Nealis Hall

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The Humboldt Times, 7 June 1908

Dress and Fancy Goods at SF Wholesale Prices (in 1882)

January 15, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collection (please keep clicking on the photo to enlarge)

Apparently this is the second location of the Geandrot store- and in the 1880s, Eureka was small enough that advertisements didn’t need to include addresses…

On February 14, 1882, the Humboldt Times made the following announcement… “Miss Geandrot has removed her stock of millinery and lady’s furnishing goods to the building at the corner of Third and F streets and is prepared to receive her friends and customers.”

I’m not sure what happened to her former partner (husband?) F.O. or what SQU means…?

At first I was thinking this might have been in the original Ritz building, but that wasn’t built until 1885. I’m not sure exactly where this was located….

Update: After posting the above, I noticed the little (bitty) “3rd” Street sign on the building and think it may have been located here:

Google Street View

1st & D Streets, Eureka (c.1881)

January 10, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collections

Please (please, please !) click on the photo to enlarge and see all the wonderful detail— including the promotion/advertising on the fascia and siding on the upper floor and more …

For some (inexplicable) reason this is one of my favorite finds. Maybe because it looks like a set from some western “movie” town, but IS Eureka….

What’s for sale in Eureka in 1881

January 9, 2021

I ran across this ad researching information for my recent post on Mathews Music Store (and more)– and thought it might be fun for folks to see what was up for sale in Eureka on August 11, 1881

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Steinways, Victor Talking-Machines & More at 2nd and G Streets

January 9, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collection

You can see one of those amazing Victor Talking Machine to the left of the doorway….

Humboldt Times, 1904

Nice to see that business was thriving– with Mathews needing a “wareroom” to hold his pianos…

Humboldt Times, 1902

It looks like Mr. Mathews may have moved his business over the years, as one ad puts it in the historic Ricks Building, which still stands in old town Eureka, in 1882.

It is hard to imagine how amazing it was for folks to be able to capture and hear voices and music back then. For those who are interested, here’s more information on the Victor Talking-Machines written by Paul Edie and posted on

A Quick History of the Victor Phonograph

The foundations for the Victor Talking Machine Company date back to the late 1880’s, when a creative entrepreneur named Emile Berliner invented the mass-producible flat phonograph record. Thomas Edison had invented the cylinder phonograph 10 years earlier in 1877, but there was no practical way to mass-duplicate his cylinders at that time. Berliner’s flat disc design allowed copies to be made of audio recordings in the manner of a printing press. The story of Victor’s emergence as the giant in the phonograph industry is very complicated, but in summary, Berliner asked Eldridge Johnson (picture at left), the owner of a small machine shop in Camden, New Jersey, to assist him in developing and manufacturing a low-cost spring wound motor for his disc phonograph. The resulting product showed much promise, but there were many competitors in the mix who were also battling for a share in the growing phonograph market, and Berliner had limited capital to support his new business. Before long, the infant phonograph industry turned into a “free-for-all” between rival business owners, with blatant patent infringements, legal wrangling, shady underground deals, and a seemingly endless stream of lawsuits. Berliner was eventually forced out of the market in the USA, and subsequently moved to Canada where he continued his phonograph production operations. Eldridge Johnson emerged as the dominant force through all the turmoil, initially incorporated as the “Consolidated Talking Machine Company” and soon as “The Victor Talking Machine Company” in the summer of 1901. Victor quickly became the major player in the explosively growing phonograph market. From his experiences in working with Mr. Berliner, Johnson had already learned a great deal about the emerging home entertainment market, as well as in the efficient production of phonographs. In 1901, phonographs were still basically “crude novelties”, which neither sounded very good, nor performed very reliably. But people loved the idea of listening to bands play, or to hear an opera singer belt-out a Wagnerian masterpiece. And many opportunities for improvement of this novel invention were quickly becoming apparent.

The earliest Victor Talking Machines utilized a “Consolidated Talking Machine” or an “Eldridge Johnson” ID tag. Mr. Johnson used the Consolidated name for a short period before Victor was formally incorporated in October, 1901. The famous “dog and phonograph” logo began appearing on some machines by the end of the year.

By the end of 1901, all Victor products used both the Victor name and famous “Nipper”
 logo as an official product identification.

Varioloid (Disease) Outbreak at the Weaver’s Laundry

January 6, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collection

I have to admit, when I first read that that F.A. Weaver, owner of the Weaver Laundry, blamed “a younger sister of Dunn” for giving him Varioloid, I thought he was accusing her of a grave impropriety.

Instead this became a a great illustration of why this blog is so fun (and hopefully interesting to visitors). I set about finding just a bit of information about Eureka’s Weaver’s Laundry and ran across this story about an outbreak of Varioloid, which turns out to be mild Smallpox (there’s some photos here of Smallpox, but they are NOT for the faint of heart…). According to the Wikipedia story linked HERE, the local outbreak came out in the midst of the last major outbreak on the east coast. Clearly scary stuff….

According to a help wanted ad (for a cook) in 1906 and other sources, Weaver’s Laundry was located at the corner of 1st and F Streets (between F and G) in Eureka. An article mentions a fire there in 1889 and this photo is clearly much later so the business was certainly around awhile….

Please click to enlarge and see the wonderful detail….

Eureka’s “NW Corner 2nd & H”, 1907 & 2020

January 4, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collection

There on the left of both photos is the corner of the Vance Hotel….