St. Joseph’s Institute for Young Ladies (Opened 1866)

October 6, 2021

Photo: St. Joseph’s Institute, 2 Aug 1878 (source: HSU Special Collection)

Per HSU: “On block between F and G and 7th and 8th on the current site of Eureka Inn, built by Methodists, opened 16 May 1866, used as a convent; note Sisters of Mercy nuns in yard”

Please click to enlarge the photo- and you will see a number of nuns and girls in the yard!

I also found this…

Tthe last mention I find of the institute details their July 1892 graduation…

Humboldt Times, 2 July 1892: The commencement exercises of St Joseph’s Institute of this city took place Thursday in the presence of a large assemblage of friends and relatives of the pupils. A lengthy and well selected program was presented, consisting of vocal and instrumental music, recitations, tobleaux, farces and a drama, and was very creditably rendered by the pupils. The valedictory was delivered by Miss Katie Cahill, the gold medalist.

I’m not sure when they closed.

Pacific Gas Engine Works Still Standing…

September 22, 2021

This is the corner of 2nd and C Streets, Eureka and if you ever wondered what used to be there…

Humboldt State University Special Collection. Note this photo is cropped. You can find the complete photo HERE

And then I found this interesting (and a little bit scary) history about early power plants (including PG&E’s nuclear facility….). The report contains some cool old photos as well.

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….

Eyesores of Eureka: The Carson Mill in 1966

November 4, 2020
Source, HSU Special Collection

I’ve posted about the Carson and Dolbeer Lumber Mill, but recently ran across this photo cataloged under “eyesores” on the HSU Special Collections website.

Fortunately the city of Eureka has been working hard over the last number of years to clean up these “eyesores” and this site is much improved as the parking lot for the city-owned Adorni Center on the waterfront. Thanks Eureka !

Just another reminder that even when things look bleak, better days do come….

Adorni Center Parking lot (yesterday).

Pacific Steamship Company- Foot of C Street, Eureka

October 26, 2020

I am having all kinds of fun digging for interesting photos for my OLLI class coming up this Wednesday.

Above is one great example of an accidental find.


This LINK will take you to a foldable tourist brochure, published by Rand McNally and Company in 1891, which shows the main routes and schedules of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. One side of the large sheet is a map showing the company’s routes … A table in the upper right gives distances in nautical miles from San Francisco to a large number of ports, including inland ports on the Columbia River. Railroads also are shown. The reverse side gives detailed travel information, including lists of agents, scheduled rates, and descriptions of the sites to be seen on the different excursions offered by the company, including the Eureka (Humboldt Bay) Route, the Portland and Astoria (Oregon) Route, the Alaska Route, the California Southern Coast Route, and others. THIS IS A SUPER FUN MAP- I really recommend you check it out…

Founded in 1867, the Pacific Coast Steamship Company had by the late 19th century grown to be a major operator on routes from California to Alaska. It operated both passenger and cargo services, and eventually built connecting railroad lines and other transportation links as did most such companies of the era. In its early years, its chief rival was the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, but by the early 20th century it competed mainly with the Alaska Steamship Company (the Alaska Line). The Pacific Steamship Company was sold to the Admiral Line in 1916 and was acquired by the Alaska Steamship Company in 1936.

Upcoming OLLI Class

October 26, 2020

Humboldt’s Historic Photographs and the Stories They Tell

In the midst of these challenging times, this class is strictly fun.

Coming up Wednesday….

Delve into the history of well-known and familiar Humboldt County sites and events. Discover the fascinating local history of these places, and see how structures and landscapes have evolved over time.

Wed., Oct. 28 • 2-4 p.m.


$20 • Class #: 43949


Thought I saw a Bistrins Bag (repost)

August 18, 2020

2020 note: When we recently gave so much love to Daly’s, many folks mentioned Bistrins. Here you go… 

Original post: 

Driving through downtown Eureka the other day I thought I spotted an old blue and gold plastic Bistrins bag dancing in the wind.  It was really just one more piece of discarded trash but it made me nostalgic for some of the old stores that just aren’t around any more.

The following comes from the Times Standard archives:    Harry Bistrin — Longtime Humboldt County residents will immediately recognize the name “Bistrin.” Bistrin and his brother Herman owned and operated 23 retail clothing stores known as “Meyer Bistrins,” carrying on a family business that his parents, Lily and Aaron Bistrin, started in Eureka just six months after his birth in 1927. After retirement, Bistrin served as a top aide to state Sen. Barry Keene and district representative for state legislators Virginia Strom-Martin, Patty Berg and others. He died May 19 at the age of 83.

I’ll attach more Bistrin info at the end of the post, but here is Fortuna’s Meyer Bistrins on the left (photo credit to Hans Koster of  He actually dug this one up for me by request. Thanks Hans !) Oh, and I just noticed Bon Boniere FOUNTAIN on the right…


And to add to my list of serendipitous history happenings:

I finished a first draft of this post early last week and then stopped at a yard sale last Friday where I found this:


I am sure the woman manning the sale thought I was crazy to want it but I just couldn’t resist.

Times Standard Obituary for Harry Bistrin

Harry Bistrin died in his sleep early Thursday, May 19, 2011, at age 83 in Eureka, where he grew up and lived until moving to the Ukiah Valley more than 20 years ago.

Read the rest of this entry »

Livery, Feed and Sale Stable, Fortuna

August 7, 2020



Per the caption on 

T. Greig owned the Fortuna Feed and Livery Stable. It was conveniently located next to the Star Hotel , occupying the block on the north side of Main Street between 10th and 11th Streets. This building is no longer.

You can see a photo of the Star Hotel HERE with the Stable to the left– though it looks like this photo was taken before the hotel was built, with a house to the right and not the hotel…

Please do click to enlarge the photo– and you’ll notice a lot of dogs posing for this one…




Lashed and Bound by the Pacific- Humboldt Map 1865

June 7, 2020

cover image

Old maps have been popular posts according to my stats, so below you’ll find another fun one.

AJ Doolittle published the map below in 1865- which,  if you’ll notice the detail on the left, was accepted by the county supervisors on February 9. Interesting that William Carson, whose buildings have been the subject of past posts,  represented Eureka and Union (later Arcata)  townships.

According to this blog,  the map’s creator, Alonzo J. Doolittle, was born in Vermont in 1821 and came to California during the gold rush. Apparently AJ  was a road and bridge builder as well as a map maker.

Please click to enlarge the map- though you’ll need to be patient, as it is a VERY large file and moves slowly…   You can also try to access the map HERE if the link below is too slow…

There is a wonderful narrative about Humboldt on the right and when you look at the map, you’ll find that Ferndale was not yet and Arcata was still Union on the main map. Many property owners are listed, including Augustus Jacoby of Jacoby Storehouse fame and J (Joe) Russ, whose descendants still have ranches and timberland in Humboldt …

You can also see our many trails to the mines and elsewhere…


Source: HSU Special Collection


I pulled this fun little description of early Humboldt off the map. I love that they noted that we are twice the size of Rhode Island and about equal to Delaware- with a fraction of the population. I also love that we are “lashed and bound by the Pacific Ocean” and “destitute of the bleak winds of San Francisco”. Hmmm….


And here are some interesting ag stats…

Copy of Doolittle


Felon Mark on End of Right Thumb

May 25, 2020

See, this is what happens.  You start by researching a friend’s recently found saloon token and then discover that early voter registers recorded (visible) physical marks and scars….

I am guessing it was so voters could be identified definitively on polling day–and pre-photo identification, it makes sense…

The two pages below are from Humboldt’s 1892-1898 Voter Registration records, accessed through

I have never heard of a “felon mark”.  Notice a lot of men (and note that they were ONLY men), had “mashed” or missing digits.

Update from a commenter on Facebook–I’ll post her name once I get permission:

A felon is a fingertip abscess deep in the palm side of the finger. It usually is caused by bacterial infection, most often from growth of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. A painful bump on the end of a finger that is sometimes mistaken for a felon is a herpes virus infection that forms a herpetic whitlow.


I couldn’t find anything about “felon marks” online. If anyone knows or runs across anything about them, please share in the comments below.