Humboldt’s Oil Lands, 1908

October 19, 2021

The text (which I’ve enlarged below the map- just click on it) gives a detailed history of early oil exploration in Humboldt…

Source: HSU Map Collection

Methodist Church Becomes a Saloon…

October 14, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collection

This building used to stand at the north east corner of 1st and E Streets in Eureka. According to W. Steenfott (quoted on the HSU Special Collections Site) , it was the former Methodist Episcopal Church, which was built in 1859 on 3rd Street. Steenfott said it was moved to 1st & E by P. Ryan (likely Pierce) in the 1860’s ( I can only imagine that process…). Ryan then used it as a theater before it became home to McNally’s and other saloons. It was apparently demolished in 1966. The Eureka Heritage Society offers a great story about the Ryan Family HERE.

According to Steenfott, in the 1850s, the building on right was Ryan’s home before he converted it to a store. It then became the Eureka Brewery before it was removed to build a rooming house addition for the Fox’s Den.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map

And of course, now it is just another darn parking lot….


Prohibiting Those Disgraceful Wiggle Dances…

October 12, 2021

A quick search shows that Arcata and Santa Cruz were not the only communities working hard to protect their women and girls from the harm certain to come from the “degenerate animal dance” and barbarous contortions. Nor was this just a California campaign…

And and following may be my favorite, published in the Santa Cruz Evening News on 2 December 1912…

Mass Historia, a blog written by Walter Nelson, offers a great history on prohibited dances.

Eureka’s F Street, early 1900s

October 10, 2021
Source: HSU Special Collection

It can make me sad when I find a great old photo and see all the changes wrought over time. The postcard photo above is unfortunately no exception. Yeah…

I’ve actually posted about the building on the left before and shared an earlier photo showing mostly the 3rd street side. In the above photo, I am very happy to see the Palmtag Building (home to Many Hands Gallery) standing then and now and if you look carefully you can also see the Weaver Building (currently the Waterfront Cafe) at the end of the row of buildings on the postcard… Unfortunately that beauty in between with the turret (seems like it was located where the Old Town Gazebo is now?) is gone….

Bold Holdup Near Scotia (1904)

October 4, 2021
Photo Source: County of Humboldt

Someone recently got in touch looking for old photos of Scotia and by coincidence I also just ran across the story below. I thought folks might enjoy both the old photo of the Scotia Inn above, and this story about Emerson’s Saloon ….

19 January 1904

The Humboldt Times

Heavily masked and armed to the teeth, three men held up the Emerson saloon and brothel near Scotia Sunday night, a few minutes after ten o’clock and left ten minutes later richer by between $2OO and $3OO than when they made their bold and daring entrance. Outside of a brief exchange of shots, the daring stand and deliver game was quietly played. Slipping away in the darkness no trace of the perpetrators of one of the boldest holdups in the criminal annals of this county -has yet been found.

The usual Sunday night crowd, composed of woodsmen and millmen from the P. L. Company’s big plant, gathered early at the Emerson resort to make a night of it with wine and women and cards. The evening was going along merrily enough, round after round of strikes followed in quick succession and by 10 o’clock it was a jovial assemblage. So absorbed was the crowd that the entrance of two men, with features obscured by bandana handkerchiefs, in which eyeholes had been cut, was not noticed until the piercing cry rang out, ‘hands up you ___ ____ ____ ; faces to the wall, we mean business.” So unexpectedly was the revelry disturbed that for a moment the gang of woodsmen and millmen imagined a joke was being perpetrated upon them. A repetition of the demand enforced by four six shooters persuaded the gathering that things were serious and one and all complied. Up went the hands of every man in the room as they ranged themselves in a group at the bar.

One of the masked men then approached the fear stricken crowd and while his companion kept them covered took highwayman’s toll. A confederate on the outside guarded the entrance, consequently there was nothing to fear in that vicinity. The search was progressing nicely enough when a woman in the brothel adjoining the saloon shouted to another, “we are being robbed.” “Come out herd and join the rest of the bunch,” commanded the masked men who were keeping the men under cover. “Not on your life,” shouted the woman in reply and bang went the door. A moment later Frank Wolford, a gambler, who was in the rooms with the women, suddenly opened the door and took a shot at the man making the collection. The shot was fired from an ordinary bull dog pistol and the bullet missed its intended victim several feet. Quick as a flash the companion of the man whom Wolford had taken a pot shot at fired several shots at him as he retreated through the door, but missed his man entirely.

The search then proceeded uninterrupted. As near as can be estimated, between $2OO and $3OO was secured. The bartender alone contributed $1O out of his jacket and about $47 out of the till, his wife added $2O more to the fund, another man was relieved of about $5O, another of $30, while between $15 and $2O was gathered up in small amounts from the less wealthy ones. The other women in the room contributed only a few dollars, most of their money being secreted in their stockings, and while the burglar searched for this, either his modesty or gallantry cost him a number of shekels, for his search was not extended enough to reveal the hidden coin. Every man in the room contributed all the money in his possession with the exception of Bert Leenters, but seventy five cents of his coin going into the sack. Leenters, when the command to throw up hands came, had a purse in his pocket containing $47.26. Unlike his companions, he did not believe he was being made the victim of a hoax. Up went one hand readily enough but the other found the vicinity of his pistol pocket where the purse was kept. Taking the leather receptacle out of his pocket he dropped it on the floor, at the same time scraping sawdust over it with his foot. When the collector came to him he secured only seventy-five cents carried in another pocket. After the men had left he readily recovered the purse and found its contents intact.

After relieving the men of their money the robbers, making no attempt to search the other part of the premises, where over $lOOO was stowed away for safe keeping, marshalled six of the men in line and marched them out doors. Commanding those remaining within to no noise and not to leave the premises for twenty minutes under pain of death, terrible and instantaneous, the men joined their confederate on the outside, forced the escort of six to accompany them quite a distance away from the scene of their crime. They then permitted them to return, cautioning them not to follow them further and to raise no outcry.

The robbers then disappeared into the darkness of the night. The escort returned to the saloon where all was excitement and many a wild scheme having as its object the apprehension of the men was being suggested. Finally all thought of an attempt to catch them was given up for the night.

Sheriff Brown’s office was notified at midnight, but owing to the lateness of the hour nothing was thought to be done. Yesterday a man was dispatched to the scene but no trace of the men found.

In the afternoon a report gained circulation that one of the robbers had been arrested upon the arrival of the afternoon train but he proved to be the wrong man. This proved to be a man named Carter who had been doing an acrobatic stunt at Scotia and whom some believed was mixed up in the robbery owing to his resemblance to one of the robbers. When taken from the train by Under Sheriff Ferrill he disclaimed all participation in the hold-up and stated inquiry in Loleta would show he had slept there Sunday night. Deputy Ferrill communicated with the Loleta Constable and found that this was true. Carter having proved an alibi, he was forced to release him.

Emerson’s saloon is located about a half mile from Scotia and is no admirable spot for the successful carrying out of such a crime as was committed Sunday night. The men involved in the affair, according to Leenters, who gave the story of the hold-up to a Times representative, are both of about the same size and quite large. One has a queer shambling gait and a voice which he believes he would recognize anywhere. The other man had no marked peculiarities. The confederate on the outside he did not see except in the darkness and consequently could not describe him. None of the men had been seen around the camp previous to Sunday night, but it is believed they were familiar with their ground and also with the fact that many of the men had just been paid off.

Constable Brown of Scotia and a deputy from the Sheriff’s office were busy on the chase yesterday, but up to a late hour last night nothing had been received here that could throw any  light on the culprits.

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

Block image

Buy a City Lot for $150 or Chicken Ranch for $2,000

November 10, 2020

This is another fun one from the 1915 Humboldt County, California : the land of unrivaled undeveloped natural resources on the westernmost rim of the American continent

What baseball is really all about (repost)

August 15, 2020

Another of my favorites…

And this one…

The notes I have say “Arcata”.  I’m not sure of the year.

Wagon Crossing the Van Duzen (repost)

August 11, 2020

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





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.



Carson & Dolbeer Lumber Mill, c. 1900-1930 (2020 update)

June 19, 2020

Carson Mansion & Mill, c. 1900 (Woods)


It is hard to imagine but this mill was located in the city of Eureka’s Halvorsen Park below the Carson Mansion in Eureka. You can see a bit of it to the left of the mansion in the photo above.

Carson & Dolbeer Mill (T.Woods)

Carson & Dolbeer Mill, c. 1930 (T.Woods)

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Carson’s mill…


In 1863, Carson and John Dolbeer formed the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company. Eighteen years later, in 1881, as the company advanced into areas more difficult to log, Dolbeer invented the Steam Donkey Engine which revolutionized log removal, especially in hard-to-reach areas. At about the same time, Carson was involved in the founding of the Eel River and Eureka Railroad with John Vance.[6] Before commencing the building of his mansion, Carson said, “If I build it poorly, they would say that I am a damned miser; if I build it expensively, they will say I’m a show off; guess I’ll just build it to suit myself.”[7] In 1884, on the eve of construction of the great home, the company was producing 15,000,000 board feet (35,000 m3) of lumber annually. The milling operations, combined with additional investments as far away as Southern California and at least partial ownerships in schooners used to move the lumber to booming markets on the west coast and all over the globe,[2] set the stage for the unlimited budget and access to resources the builders would have. Pacific Lumber Company purchased the company in 1950[8] and maintained milling operations at the original Humboldt Bay site, located bay-side below the house, well into the 1970s.