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.

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


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.

Eureka 1893-94 Business Directory

May 15, 2020

I saved this one for Friday- so you can explore it over the weekend….

Google has digitized this fun.

Eureka Business Directory 1893-4: A Complete Register of the Citizens of the City of Eureka, Humboldt County, California

You can look up your great-grandparents  or see that you could get “Humboldt Pure Lard” in 100 lb. Kegs.

Please note that you can customize your display, or how you view the book online, by clicking display options on the upper right hand corner of your screen.







Office of Historic Preservation’s List of Humboldt’s Historic Sites

July 6, 2011
Sites in Humboldt County listed by the State Office of Historic Preservation
NO. 146 TRINIDAD HEAD – On June 11, 1775, Bruno de Hezeta, commandant of an expedition up the northwest coast, marched with his men and two Franciscan fathers from the shore of the bay to the summit of Trinidad Head. Here they erected a cross and took possession in the name of Charles III of Spain.
Location: 1.5 mi W of Hwy 101, Trinidad, USCG Station
NO. 154 FORT HUMBOLDT – By the early 1850s, newly arrived white settlers had moved into the Humboldt Bay area, causing conflict with the native inhabitants. To protect both Indians and settlers, Fort Humboldt was established in 1853 and operated until 1866. It became a focal point in the violent struggle between two cultures. Many Native Americans were assembled here before removal to reservations.
Location: 3431 Fort Ave, Eureka
NO. 164 THE OLD ARROW TREE – This site is said to have been used by Indians to commemorate an important peace treaty. In memory of the treaty, each tribe, upon passing, was supposed to have shot an arrow into the bark.
Location: 0.8 mi E of Korbel County Hwy F5L 100 (P.M. 2.2), Korbel

NO. 173 CENTERVILLE BEACH CROSS – On January 6, 1860 the steamer Northerner, northward bound from San Francisco, struck a hidden rock two miles off Cape Mendocino, and from there drifted to the Centerville Beach. Thirty-three passengers and 32 crew members were saved – the cross was erected by the Ferndale Parlor No. 93, N.D.G.W., in memory of the 17 passengers and 21 crew members who lost their lives in this disaster.
Location: 5 mi W of Ferndale on Centerville Rd (P.M. 0.8) USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: FERNDALE

NO. 215 CAMP CURTIS – Camp Curtis was the headquarters of the Mountain Battalion from 1862 to 1865. There were many military posts established throughout this area for the protection of the white settlers. (Army spells Curtis with one s.)
Location: Take Sunset Ave offramp Hwy 101, go N 0.9 mi on L. K. Wood Blvd frontage Rd, Arcata

NO. 216 TOWN OF TRINIDAD – Founded April 8, 1850, Trinidad is the oldest town on the Northern California coast. During the 1850s, it served as a vital supply link between ships anchored at Trinidad Bay and miners in the Klamath, Trinity, Salmon River, and Gold Bluff mines. It was the county seat of Klamath County (now disbanded) from 1851 to 1854, but its population declined as Eureka and other area port cities developed.
Location: NW corner of Edwards and Hector Sts, Trinidad

NO. 477 CITY OF EUREKA – Eureka was founded as a town in 1850 and incorporated as a city in 1874. Located on the remote northwestern coast of California, Eureka was the region’s major port of entry by water in the 19th century before the construction of good access by land, and rose to historical prominence as the major social, political, and economic center of the region. ‘Eureka’ is a Greek expression and a popular mining term meaning ‘I have found it.’
Location: NW corner, 3rd and E Sts, old town, Eureka

NO. 543 CALIFORNIA’S FIRST DRILLED OIL WELLS – California’s first drilled oil wells that produced crude to be refined and sold commercially were located on the North Fork of the Mattole River approximately three miles east of here. The old Union Mattole Oil Company made its first shipment of oil from here, to a San Francisco refinery, in June 1865. Many old well heads remain today.
Location: NE corner Mattole Rd and Front St, Petrolia

NO. 783 JACOBY BUILDING – The basement and first story of this building were constructed in 1857 for Agustus Jacoby, and housed various mercantile firms during its early years as a principal supply point for the Klamath-Trinity mining camp trade. It served occasionally as a refuge in time of the Indian troubles from 1858 through 1864. It was acquired by A. Brizard in 1880.
Location: Eighth and H (plaque at NE corner, structure at SE corner), Arcata

NO. 838 OLD INDIAN VILLAGE OF TSURAI – Directly below was located the Yurok village of Tsurai. A prehistoric permanent Indian community, it was first located and described by Captains Bodega and Heceta, June 9-19, 1775. The houses were of hand-split redwood planks, designed for defense and protection. The village was occupied until 1916.
Location: SW corner of Ocean and Edwards Sts, Trinidad

NO. 842 ARCATA AND MAD RIVER RAIL ROAD COMPANY – Incorporated December 15, 1854, as the Union Plank Walk, Rail Track, and Wharf Company, the Arcata and Mad River Rail Road is the oldest line on the north coast. Originally using a horse-drawn car, the railroad served as a link between Humboldt Bay and the Trinity River mines. Later, locomotives were added as the line grew to serve the redwood industry.
Location: 330 Railroad Ave, NW corner Hatchery Rd and Railroad Ave, Blue Lake

NO. 882 HUMBOLDT HARBOR HISTORICAL DISTRICT – Captain Jonathan Winship made the first recorded entry into Humboldt Bay by sea in June 1806, and Josiah Gregg’s party visited the bay in 1849. By 1850 the Laura Virginia Association had founded Humboldt City, Union (Arcata), Bucksport, and Eureka – in subsequent years, the bay became a major North Coast lumber port and shipbuilding center.
Location: Harold Larsen Vista Pt, Humboldt Hill Rd off Hwy 101 (P.M. 73.7), Eureka

NO. 883 FERNDALE – This pioneer agricultural community, settled in 1852, helped feed the booming population of mid-century San Francisco. Long known as ‘cream city,’ Ferndale made innovative and lasting contributions to the dairy industry. Local creameries, and the town’s role as a transportation and shipping center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fostered prosperity that produced Ferndale’s outstanding Victorian-Gothic residential and false-front commercial architecture.
Location: Ferndale City Hall Park, intersection of Main and Herbert Sts, Ferndale

Find A Grave And Information

February 20, 2011

My ancestors, photo courtesy of Wes Keat and Debbie Davis

When I was eleven years old, I met Tom Hawbaker .  Our parents were friends, enjoying bar-b-cues and game nights,  and Tom and I were stuck together.  Fortunately we shared a fondness for Stephen King books and philosophical conversations.  Oh, and cemeteries.  I think hanging out among the dead was where we really bonded.

Seems were weren’t alone in our affection for graveyards.

My new friend and co-worker,  Wes Keat,  is an amazing researcher and genealogist.  He also surveys local cemeteries and takes photos of the markers.  He then uploads them to where descendants all over the world can “virtually” visit their ancestors and learn more about them from the information inscribed on grey marble and concrete slabs.

Wes also helps connect folks like me with other find-a-grave volunteers living elsewhere, so that we can see the graves of our ancestors buried long ago in far off places (like the one above in New Jersey).

Wes is generously allowing me to share his email:  He’s inviting folks to get in touch if they want help finding an ancestor’s grave.  He will also continue to survey the local cemeteries as time and weather permits and if you know of any tiny, tucked away cemetery he can photograph (or even better, family cemeteries on private land), please let him know. 


Criminalizing heroes and sometimes saving them

January 28, 2011


Plantation Slaves: Son of the South website

Continued from previous post

Note: I know this is a lot of information, but I chose not to edit so the readers can get a feel for the language, emotion, etc. that surrounded these events (that and I haven’t a lot of time to edit…).

In a letter to his former congregation, Pardon Davis expressed fear that the church wouldn’t support his decision to help the runaway slaves,

“If [you] could go on the plantation near where I lived, and at night, when the cotton was weighed, out of two hundred, not less than twelve are whipped every night—O! could you hear the shrieks, cries, groans, prayers — yes, if you could see the victim on his knees praying with all the earnestness a man is capable of, to that brutal overseer, and promising to strain every nerve on the morrow to pick more cotton – it is enough to melt the heart of any one. Who can look on such scenes as these, and not be moved? Brethren, i cannot. And now what more can I say? Have I done wrong? Have I done more than any man ought to do? Dear brethren, I leave you to judge. and I am willing to be governed by your decision. I wait with the greatest anxiety to hear from you, to know whether I shall receive your sympathies and prayers, or whether I have done wrong, and am considered a heathen. If the former, I can bear my affliction with fortitude; but if the latter, I feel my life hangs by a slender thread that my days are numbered. In the mean time, brethren pray for me. Sisters, remember me in your prayers.


but he shouldn’t have…

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San Francisco’s Big Quake-before and after

October 29, 2010

Last weekend I went to visit my parents in Santa Rosa and on Saturday night we attended an event at the Elk’s Lodge in Rohnert Park, maybe (it was dark and I wasn’t driving.  Or paying attention, I guess).

Anyway, we sat with some of their friends and all night people came up to Dwayne Miles,  one of the gentlemen at our table and congratulated him on his “30 seconds of fame”.  It seems Dwayne’s ancestors supervised the making of a film in San Francisco in 1906, just days before “one of the most significant earthquakes of all time”   and Dwayne and his nephew, Scott Miles, had recently been on 60 Minutes to talk about it.

The tremblor leveled most of San Francisco and fires burning uncontrollably in the aftermath destroyed almost everything else.  The Miles brothers’ office was among the casualties but the Miles brothers had put their film on a train to New York the night before the quake, saving it from almost certain destruction.

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Potty Book Learnings

April 2, 2010

17th century, German-made stoneware “Bellarmine” jug

In our house we have many of what I call (the kids hate this) “potty books”, those Bathroom Readers you buy at Costco that are full of random facts.

In one of them I learned about Popham, a very early American colony that did not survive.  The artifact above came from that site .