Wagon Crossing the Van Duzen (repost)

August 11, 2020

I drove south on Hwy 101 not long ago and remembered this wonderful photo…




From Sunnyfortuna.com:

Note the wagon and team crossing the bridge. The Redwood Highway is now called Highway 101 and crosses in almost this exact spot today, except it’s now four lanes and vehicles are travelling at 65 MPH. This was locally known as the Alton Bridge.

This county bridge, built in 1901 by the San Francisco Bridge Company, consisted of two steel Camelback truss spans with wooden trestle approaches, and carried a narrow, 16-foot roadway. By the early 1920s, the steel spans were badly corroded from the salt-laden coastal air, and the wooden deck and approach spans were rotted. It was replaced in 1924.



Fifty Cents to Cross Humboldt Bay (repost)

July 25, 2020



Ferry, possibly at the Eel River (I couldn’t’ find a pic of the bay ferry). Source: HSU Special Collection. 

In October of  1854, the county supervisors approved the petition by Heammon and Marvel to establish a ferry crossing Humboldt Bay.  The partners needed to pay the county $5 for the privilege, follow Section 16 of the Act  Concerning Public Ferries and Bridges and get a bond of $1,000.

The men were also required to have at least two boats, one large and one small, and at least two “hands”, meaning two men and literally four hands, I’m guessing.

As licensed ferrymen, they could charge foot passengers  fifty cents and could demand $2 for anyone wanting to cross the bay with a horse, mule, ox, cow, hog or other animal .

Anyone wanting to get from Eureka to Arcata was pretty much stuck taking the ferry, as there was no reliable trail and the wagon road that would eventually follow along Old Arcata Road wasn’t built yet.  The ferry dropped passengers off near the present location of Fairhaven, and they hoofed it (ha, ha), to Union/Arcata from there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Barefoot boy with a store-bought lunchbox (repost)

July 14, 2020

One of my favorites…

Grizzly Bluff, c. 1915

This is all I could find on Grizzly Bluff (from Wikipedia)-

The Grizzly Bluff School was an historic school in the farm fields outside Ferndale, California.[1] Students came from the surrounding Eel River valley to attend a one-room school earlier than the construction of the first known school building.[2]

Tom Dix and John Davenport built the current building in 1871, and the ornamental windbreak was planted in 1878.[3] In the 1880s, the building was moved away from the road and placed on a new foundation.[2]

In 1900, more space was needed to support a large number of students and the old Presbyterian Church nearby was converted to schoolrooms.[2] By 1976, the school continued only grades one through four. Students from fifth and attended Ferndale Elementary School.[2] Grizzly Bluff School closed its doors for the last time on 30 June 30, 1989.[4]

OldGrizzly Bluff School.jpg Presbyterian Church at Grizzly Bluff

Grizzly Bluff School in 2012

Arcata Boasts First Railroad in California (repost)

July 9, 2020

Arcata Wharf and Ferry

Yesterday  (2020 update: “yesterday” was over 10 years ago, but the link still works...)        I wrote about the Arcata wharf and railroad.  According to the City of Arcata Website, the first “train” for that railroad was a four-wheel car powered by a single horse.

“Passengers coming from Eureka to Arcata on the ferry… were met by the horse-drawn car and taken into Arcata to the depot located on the site of the present Post Office. In 1875, the horse-powered locomotive was replaced with a steam locomotive, called the Black Diamond. This is considered by many to have been the first railroad in the State of California. “

The Timber Heritage Association is working to establish a museum and revive the rail system here… (2020 update: They now have a super cool collection of railcars and more. They also (will again someday) offer speedercar rides along the bay)

I think most have ruled out the viability of using trains for cargo transportation, but it may still have merit as a tourist attraction… maybe even short distance passenger service.  I know I wouldn’t mind skipping a trip through the Eureka traffic and riding a train to do my old town shopping instead.

Blocksburg, c. 1890

May 2, 2011

Blocksburg, c. 1890

 The store was owned by JS Marble (keep clicking to enlarge), but I can’t find JS in the census…

Ah, there is an AP Marble in the 1880 Census in Powellville and Joseph Marble, a relative, I think, was in Bear River in 1880.  Perhaps Joseph grew up to be J.S., and a merchant…

Blocksburg, c. 1890


There is an entire website devoted to the little town of Blockburg  here.

I suggest you spend some time checking out the history  and photos.

California Pioneer Home

February 6, 2011

Depiction of California Pioneer Home, c. 1867


So I thought I’d stick with the pioneer image theme  for one more post.

The standard trick of multiple clicks doesn’t seem to work on the source site, but you can always increase the magnification of your browser window to see more detail.

The  illustration  offers a great comparison to this “home”   .

Bayside Store, c 1900

December 10, 2010

Will..., Richmond, McFarland, Stern, c. 1900 (McFarland)


The folks in Bayside are collecting photos and stories about their neighborhood for a special edition of the Arcata Eye and a community event to be held at the Bayside Grange sometime in January (I’ll post the details when we get closer to the date).

If you’ve got something you’re willing to share, please let me know historyaddicts@gmail.com and I’ll pass your contact info on to the organizers.

Alton before the interchange

October 26, 2010

Frank Luther's Cash Store, Alton (Peter Palmquist)

I went down to visit my parents in Santa Rosa this weekend and passed through Alton.

It doesn’t look much like this anymore.

Alton 1893


Alton, 1920 (Peter Palmquist)

Baby palm trees on the Arcata Plaza, c 1918

August 3, 2010

Arcata Plaza, c 1918

Poor miserable half naked half starved wretches

July 20, 2010

Fort Humboldt, c. 1885

I realized last night that it might be time to warn new visitors that if they are looking for linear content on this blog, they’d best look elsewhere.  My vocation is project management,  where everything needs to be organized and run in straight lines.  This, on the other hand, is a hobby.  I get distracted, leave topics in the middle, find new sources at random times and insert  tangential facts.  Those with a low tolerance for such things likely don’t come back.  To all you others, I am glad to have you here.  

I recently received a transcript of a diary written by a young man named James Brown (no relation to the other, more infamous James Brown) who served in the military during the 1860s.  

The more “innocent” Brown’s entries are from 1862.  He describes his journey to our rugged and isolated North Coast  and his experiences while stationed here during the beginnings of the civil war (which became the height of our “Indian Wars”). 

It was an excerpt of the following entry he wrote while at Fort Humboldt  (which was located above the Bayshore Mall in Eureka)  that grabbed my attention and prompted my request for the entire document. 

May 9, 1862: On guard.  40 or 50 Squaws and children brought in by the Calvary.  Poor miserable half naked half starved wretches.  The sight was sickening.