Monday, March 26, 2007

Humboldt History

Well, the Times- Standard guessed right again. They figured I might want to comment on a short story in their paper today on traveling to San Francisco back in the days of old. They were right. I did want to comment on it so they didn't put the story up on their web page.

But all is not lost. The story did include a link to the Humboldt Historical Society web site. Being a bit of a history buff, how did I miss that site all these years?

Looks like the story I was interested in today is one of the articles that Susanne Forsyth, editor of the Humboldt Historian, submits each month. They haven't updated their page yet to include the story I read this morning but here's the one from last month.

I got excited when I saw a link to the Society's periodical, the Humboldt Historian. I used to enjoy reading that magazine years ago. A friend at work used to bring them in for people to read. Boy, now I can read that magazine again!

I ended up disappointed as the link just leads to a list of stories in the current issue. No good reading to be found online.

I guess I'll have to join the Historical Society one of these days if only to subscribe to their magazine.


At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Fred, how about telling us about the history of land fraud in Humboldt County. I understand thats how most of the large landholding here came into being.

Something about drunk sailors filing for homesteads and immediately selling them for the price of a drink or sojourn with a lady upstairs. And boats being hauled overland to establish navigable waters boundaries. Do you think old man Arkley might know something about that?

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I don't have any idea what you're talking about. Perhaps you should start a blog and educate us.

At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:49 please dish the details if you got any...not about Arkley, but the early history. Fred I'm glad to know you're into history- have you found anymore about Tyee city etc.? I remember you were surprised when I mentioned the Mad River being diverted into the bay. I think I read about that in "Bedlam on the Slew" by Hortense Lanphere-it's not the most thrilling read, but is full of thought provoking tidbits, and history crumbs.That woman was bad ass and way ahead of her time. Anyhow Fred take care.

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Fred said...

"I remember you were surprised when I mentioned the Mad River being diverted into the bay.".

Not surprised when you mentioned it. I was surprised when I heard about it years ago.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred I'm perplexed-see your 7:39 post from your headline The Dredge Report...

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Fred said...

My misunderstanding. I misread your comment. I heard long ago that the Mad River emptied naturally into Humboldt Bay, not that it was diverted.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For 5:54

The issue of fraudulent land claims in the 19th century is a matter of record, and not just in Humboldt County. References appear occasionally in our local newspapers of that time. Prominent figures were involved in land
speculation and also in the creation of cartels, attempting to control the market and fix prices. I don't think the details are necessarily common knowledge but there is probably a more commonly held belief that these things were not unusual at that time.

Most of us learned in our American history classes that attempts to convert land in the West to its highest perceived use,agriculture, led to legislation that encouraged homesteading. Large tracts of land were also granted to railroad companies for the same purpose. These large land holdings created a different ownership pattern in the West, one reason why our discussions of water rights are so complicated. The Timber and Stone Act, along with the Homestead Act, provided free land to owners who would then improve the property. There were some flagrant abuses which eventually led to some investigations, and to changes in the laws.

One of the best descriptions of all of this is in Dan Cornford's
book,"Workers and Dissent in the Redwood Empire," published in 1987. He goes into more detail in his dissertation, also available in the Humboldt Room "Lumber, labor, and community in Humboldt County, California,
1850-1920." You might ask Edie Butler or Joan Berman, in the Humboldt Room, about local land fraud and the abuse of the Timber and Stone Act. (Edie also
assisted Cornford in the archive when he was working on his dissertation).
Cornford is Professor Emeritus at SJSU, in the History Department, so you might contact him if you have some questions.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A HSU geology teacher wrote a report analysing core samples taken in Northern Humboldt bay. It found deposits consistent with the Mad river's mouth being at one time in the area where McDaniels and Liscom sloughs are now. Cores on Mad River Slough aren't consistent with a river bottom. If you want an excerpt of the study, I can get it to you.

There are records that a canal was built between the Mad River and the Mad River slough. Like most things here, it was poorly thought out and ruined by repeated flooding.

A later study found evidence that a magnitude 9 earthquake in 1700 created the Mad River slough. I don't want to imagine what another 9 earthquake would do here ....

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Thanks for the heads up, 2:02. I don't remember who told me the Mad River used to run into the bay but it was told to me years ago.

Another weird thing I found out about the area. I believe I mentioned it either here or another blog before:

The bluffs on the west side of Eureka- those "cliffs" that run alongside the east side of Broadway starting just south of Wabash. They used to slope all the way down to the bay, back in the old days.

A guy was telling me (he owns some apartments right on the cliffs) that in the early 1900s(?) they did a big excavation and dug out all the dirt so they could have a level road there- what we know today as Broadway/ 101. I'd assumed the bluffs were always as they are today.

I was also told the dirt that was removed was dumped, as you might have guessed, in Humboldt Bay.

That's second hand info from the property owner who was told that by some engineers who did an assesment of the property before he bought it. He was naturally worried about the safety of buying property on a cliff.

I'm not so sure I'm that confident in the engineer's assesment. Just down the street from the apartments I'm referring to, lived the late Tish Wilburn on top of the same cliffs. She lost a back room when an earthquake caused a small landslide that took the ground out from under that room.

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is some good stuff.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to make it clear, the evidence showed that the Mad River likely last emptied in the Humboldt bay thousands of years ago. If someone says it did in the "old days" they are absolutely wrong.


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