approximately 200 miles north of San
the PacificCoast on
Hwy 101. Eureka, the county seat, is 278 miles north of San
Francisco and 466 miles south of Portland, Oregon.
The county encompasses 2.3 million acres, eighty percent of which is
timber land and recreation areas. The county is mostly mountainous,
except for the level plain that surroundsHumboldt
Bay. Elevations run from sea level
to 6,934 feet. Located within the county boundaries are 10 state
parks, 16 county parks and beaches, recreational areas and reserves,
and portions of the National Park and National Forest.
Humboldt County was incorporated on May
It's County seat, Eureka,
was created on that same date. The county derived its name from Humboldt
was entered by a sea otter party in 1806, but was not rediscovered
until 1849. In 1850, Douglas Ottinger and Hans Buhne entered the
bay, naming it Humboldt in honor of the great naturalist and world
Humboldt is a densely forested, mountainous, and
rural county situated along the Pacific coast
California's rugged Coast
(Mountain) Ranges. With nearly 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2)
of combined public and private forest in production, Humboldt County
accounts for twenty percent of the total forest
production for all of California.
county contains over forty percent of all remaining old
Redwood forests, the
vast majority of which is protected or strictly conserved within
dozens of national, state, and local forests and parks, totaling
approximately 680,000 acres (over 1,000 square miles).
The Formation of Humboldt County
Humboldt County was
formed in 1853 from the coastal section of Trinity County, the rapid
settlement of that part making it necessary. The county seats have
been Uniontown, now Arcata, 1853, and Eureka since 1856.
Humboldt Bay on which Eureka is situated was first discovered in
1806. The American crew from the ship O'Cain of the Russian American
Company headed by Captain Jonothan Winship in search of sea-otter
discovered its obscure entrance. Later the O'Cain sailed into the
bay and dropped anchor opposite to where Eureka now stands. Because
of the many Indian villages on the shores of the bay the party named
it "Indian Bay".
After the discovery of gold in California
there were gold mines operated on streams flowing west in Trinity
and Siskiyou Counties. Hauling supplies overland was both tedious
and expensive so several expeditions were fitted out in San
Francisco in the hopes of discovering a coastwise connection with
the mines. One of these expeditions under the command of Captain
Douglass Ottinger of the "Laura Virginia" rediscovered the entrance
to the bay in 1850 and on the following day, April 9, 1850 two small
boats were launched and went over the bar. Humboldt point seemed the
most central location so here "Humboldt City" was founded, named for
the naturalist and explorer Baron von Humboldt. The same year Eureka
was founded on Humboldt Bay about three miles from the entrance.
Eureka could be reached from the outside world by overland stage
from San Francisco. It took three days in summer and four in winter;
there were also two steamship lines, but most people preferred the
overland route as the entrance to the bay was dangerous and there
was many a disaster suffered by ships "crossing the bar". Mail came
by pony express whenever the roads did not permit the stage to
In 1852-53 Fort Humboldt was established on Humboldt
Heights, a high bluff about a quarter of a mile back from the bay.
This was established to afford protection from Indians. Captain
Ulysses S Grant served here from October, 1853 to April, 1854.
There was no courthouse until the move to Eureka. The first
Courthouse was of brick, but we do not find any record of the dat it
was built nor any description of it. The first section of an
elaborate Courthouse was built in 1885-86; the second section in
1886; the third in 1887. This third section had statues on the roof,
Minerva on the extreme top of the tower, four Justices, two Flora,
Goddess of Flowers and Gardens, two Ceres, Goddess of Corn, two
Fortunio, Goddess of Chance, two Juno, Goddess of Marriage and
Birth. These statues were made of zinc, coated with heavy gray paint
and sprayed with gray colored sand to give the appearance of stone.
The fourth section built in 1888 added nothing to the exterior of
the building but provided for the finishing of the interior,
plumbing fixtures, stairways, heating plant, radiators, window
frames, tiling floors, painting and all the work necessary to have
the building ready for occupancy. The clock was added in 1893. In
1950 the tower had to be removed for safety.
Often a county
or a county seat has a personage or a building in it which, while
not directly connected with the Courthouse, does add to the total
picture and for that reason should be included. This is true of a
house in Eureka. There is in that city a famous Victorian house,
pictured in about every book on Victorian houses that was ever
published. It was built by William Carson of the Dolbeer-Carson
Lumber Company. In 1885 the lumber business was going through a
period of depression and William Carson was hard put to find
employment for his men for whom he felt responsible. The decided to
build a new home, "a mansion that would represent something of the
dignity, the grandeur and the character of the redwood country, a
mansion, moreover, that would be a credit to the city on Humboldt
Bay, which he and his family had helped to build."
is solidly built, each wall, inside and out is supported by a
separate foundation, the entire outline of the framework can be seen
in the basement. There are three stories and a full basement. Its
eighteen rooms include besides the usual compliment of rooms a large
ballroom on the top floor as well as a billiard room. The exterior
of the house is redwood with fir timbering, the interior of redwood,
oak, Philippine mahogany and Primavera wood from South America. For
this last Carson sent one of his ships to bring back a cargo of
97,000 feet. This wood was widely used in the interior, each piece
elaborately carved. The house also has many stained glass windows.
There are tow massive front doors, each of which has a stained glass
panel with life sized figures from Shakespearean drama. There are
two onyx fire places in the house, light in color, almost flesh
color, partially translucent. According to legend the onyx came from
Mexico. The garden of the house covers two city blocks.
William Carson lived in the house until his death in 1912, then J M
"Milton" Carson and his family lived there, he dying in 1941 and Mrs
Carson in 1944. After that the house was carefully maintained by M
and Mrs La Boteaux. Today it is the home of the Ingomar Club, and
organization of Humboldt business and professional men whose
principal purpose is to retain and maintain the house.
Sources: The following sent by the County Clerk: "Early History
of Eureka," prepared by Eureka Chamber of Commerce and Humboldt
Board of Trade. "The Carson Mansion." Distributed by Eureka
Chamber of Commerce and Humboldt Board of Trade taken from Humboldt
Times, March 12 1950. "The Construction of Humboldt County
Courthouse at Eureka, California." 1883-1889. Howard B Melendy.
January 1953 for Humboldt County Centennial.
Courthouses of California: A Survey The Historical Activities Committee The National Society of Colonial Dames of America Resident in the
State of California
Activities Committee: Mrs Sherman Rogers, Hall, Jr Mrs George
Storm Hauck Mrs Bullard Nugent Mrs Donald Rex Tallman Mrs
Slocum Wilson Mrs Frederick Mewborn Fisk, Chairman 1964
Included is information on: California Public School
Systems, Horticulture, Topography and Agriculture, Mining
Industry, Lumber Industry, Conservation and a lot of
pictures of early California.
Bios of the "Men of California", "Merchants", "The bench and
the bar", "Architects", "Engineers", "Contractors", Real
Estate", "Men of Insurance" and "Bankers".
"The Fine Print" The CAGW Administrative Team: State
Martha A Crosley Graham Assistant State
Coordinators: Claire Martin & Joy Fisher
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