1850 Description of Humboldt

May 6, 2020

HSU Collection: 2003.01.0490

Eureka as painted by a soldier in 1854- Please click on the painting to enlarge.


Understanding Our Region Through Historic Landscape Narratives

October, 2013

When the first Euro-American ships arrived off Humboldt Bay in the spring of 1850, those onboard witnessed a spectacle that we can only dream about.

“I must now tell you that the land is so beautiful and the soil so rich that I was almost fascinated with the scene, and if I could have you and Ginney, Rachel and our family, with some of our valued friends, I could almost give up Erie. In addition to the good qualities of the land, the waters produce clams in abundance as well as fish; and geese, ducks, snipe, plover, etc. are about as numerous as wild pigeons at Erie in the spring. The wood is not less productive than the water and droves of elk and deer, with a goodly number of bears are always to be found….” (Lewis, 1966)

Captain Douglas Ottinger, on board the Laura Virginia, in Humboldt Bay, April 1850, to his “Good Wife,”


Note: Susie Van Kirk was an amazing and generous historian and a wonderful human being. She passed away in 2016 and I miss her still….

Remnants of Eureka’s Past…

May 3, 2020

So I’ve always liked to walk and luckily for me, Eureka offers no end of things to see for those who loves historic architecture.

Apparently Sam McManis from the Sacramento Bee concurs.

And Wikipedia said this:

Old Town Eureka (formally the Eureka Old Town Historic District) in Eureka, California, is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places. This Historic district is a 350-acre (1.4 km2) area containing 154 buildings[2] mostly from the Victorian era. The core of the district runs the length of First, Second, and Third Streets, between “C” and “M” Streets and includes many types of architecture from the 1850s to the present. Though not officially within the district, the Carson Mansion, the undisputed Victorian jewel of the city and region, commands the highest elevation at the eastern edge of the district. Art venues, coffee shops, bed and breakfasts and inns, antique stores and shops, restaurants, museums and galleries, and public areas (complete with views of Humboldt Bay and its marinas) are among the highlights of this gem of the West Coast. Of particular note is the remarkable authenticity of the district simply because it did not suffer the ravages of extensive fires or redevelopment like many other historic commercial centers.


While I have more time on my hands and beautiful days to walk Eureka, I thought I would focus on specific blocks- and see what I find. Yesterday I noticed that behind the facades on 5th Street between A & B Streets, there seemed to be houses. Quite a few of them. Below is what I found when I dug online.

And… I do realize there are only a small number of folks will find this truly interesting, but for those that do, enjoy. And if you are out and about and find other architectural remnants, please do send your pics my way. Pretty please.


*     *     *

Let’s start with yesterday… (BTW, click on any photo/graphic to enlarge for detail). 

You can see the roof line of houses behind the commercial facades… 

5th Street, Between A & B

So I checked the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and sure enough…. (Dwg=dwelling; Gro=grocers; Store Rm= Store room- looks like part was one story, the back part 1 1/2 stories- which you’ll see soon…)

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1889


Thanks, Google

Ok, the Google satellite view shows the warehouses, which were built by 1920- so here’s those…

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1920

I love (love, LOVE) that there was a “2nd hand store” on the corner in 1920 (100 years ago !)  I am a big fan of 2nd hand stores…


And here is the alley (because the alley tells a story too….)

The alley between 4th and 5th Street, A-B Streets- Notice the 2 warehouses from the 1920 map…


Also from the alley- You’ll notice this footprint (recessed area) in the maps above ….


And this is the storeroom from the 1889 map (I think) with a little addition to tie it to the front building. Sure looks the same…


Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1889

Hope you enjoyed- and don’t forget to send me pics of any remnants you find: lynette.mullen@gmail.com.




New York Public Library-Historic Photos

January 14, 2016

New York Public Library-Civil War Collection

Check out the New York Public Library Collection on Flickr

These aren’t us, but they are amazing. This site holds a wonderful and varied collection of historic photos. Some of the portraits featuring immigrants in their native dress (down the page in the Ellis Island Collection) are especially interesting.



Buon Gusto Restaurant, Eureka

October 11, 2015



This photo is from HSU’s collection-click on the photo then click on the photo on HSU’s page again to see a larger version…





Year ago the Eagle House was used as a sort 0f mini-mall, with boutique stores off the upper balcony.  On a ghost tour I was told the building to the left was originally on the corner and they moved it to construct the bigger building.

Where is Hausel Ranch, Fort Grand ?

March 14, 2012

Fort Grand, Hausel Ranch (County of Humboldt Collection)

Couldn’t find Fort Grand and Ancestry.com came up with “zero good matches”  for Hausels in Humboldt County.

Anyone out there know anything about the Hausels or Fort Grand? And I realize I may be making the erroneous assumption that a photo in the Humboldt County Collection is actuallly from Humboldt…  Either way I liked the photo and hope you guys do too…

Ferndale Bank, c. 1925

November 2, 2010

Ferndale Bank, c. 1925 (source: Tom Woods)

I was able to find some great old photos of Ferndale.  I’ll try to post more this week.

Hotel Arcata-Another New Old Building

October 18, 2010

Arcata Creamery Building-still shiny and new

October 15, 2010

California Plant of Central Creameries

The old creamery building in Arcata provides a great example of  a repurposed old structure.  It is now home to the Arcata Playhouse , a great community venue for all kinds of events.

That great old car would help me date this photo, if I knew anything about old cars…

Photos of Falk

October 11, 2010


Falk, c 1890

Falk, c 1900

Falk, c 1915

Falk log dump, c 1920

Folks can visit where Falk used to be–and sometimes spot remnants of that long-ago ghost town.  In fact, one old barn has been reconstructed in an easily accessible area of the Headwaters Reserve for all to see and enjoy.

Interested folks can also check with HSU to see if there will be any more archeological forays into the area.

Eureka in 1870

October 1, 2010

Eureka, 1870

I figure we’ll just do a progression, since I keep finding great Eureka photos in my digital collection.   As always, keep clicking on the photo to get larger images. 

I have to say I love the big barn on 2nd Street.

Notice the trees have been pushed back much further, but haven’t disappeared completely.

I remember old, old buildings along the waterfront when I was a kid.  I am sure many folks see the new development in that area as an improvement (and so do I in many ways) but I can’t help but mourn those old buildings a little…