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19. Falk Ghost Town

Ericson Photograph Collection, Humboldt State University Library

Located in the town of Scotia, approximately 25 miles south of Eureka on Highway 101. Take the Scotia exit and follow Main Street to the Scotia Museum. Then continue on Main to the visitor The logging and milling town of Scotia is still privately parking lot to owned by a lumber company. access the Freshwater Aquarium and self-guided mill & factory tour. Open weekdays 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day. No cost. 707-764-2222. Picnic area.

The Pacific Lumber Company-owned town of Scotia—one of the last of its kind—continues to exist for the sole purpose of growing and harvesting redwood and fir timber. Amid the present-day activity, the story of how the Redwood Coast timber industry got its start is told in the newly updated Scotia Museum. Through historical artifacts, vintage photos and interactive technology, visitors see how forestry practices—and Scotia itself—have changed over the last 140 years. Outside the museum are examples of two major innovations without which the redwood timber boom could not have happened, the loco- motive and the steam donkey. Only after the transition from animal power to steam power was it really feasible to harvest the gigantic redwoods in mountainous terrain. Continue to the self-guided tour of the “Value Added” mill to see how today’s lumber companies produce their products from smaller trees, and to the Freshwater Aquarium to learn how this industry manages its lands and resources.

Located in Rohner Park, Fortuna. Exit Highway 101 at Main Street Fortuna and follow east one mile to Park Street; turn left into park. Open daily from 12:00 to 4:30 pm. The Fortuna train depot now resides in the City’s Rohner Park and houses the Fortuna Depot Museum. 707-725-7645. Admission is free; donations accepted.

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Humboldt County Historical Society

18. Fortuna Depot Museum

Once the Northwestern Pacific Railroad connected the Humboldt Bay region to the rest of California in 1914 (with it’s own gold spike ceremony at Cain Rock), rail became the mainstay of shipping, commercial and passenger travel. The Northwestern Pacific was responsible for rail operations throughout Northern California’s “Redwood Empire,” and purchased many other rail companies including the Eureka and Eel River Railroad. This latter transaction brought it the Fortuna Depot, built in 1893 and originally standing at the foot of 7th Street (where the station master’s house still stands). Abandoned by Northwestern Pacific in 1965, the Depot was purchased by the City of Fortuna and moved to its present location in Rohner Park. Today the old Depot is an excellent museum of early life in Fortuna (originally called Springville) and the Eel River Valley. The collection includes railroad, ranching, fishing gear, Native American and pioneer artifacts, as well as extensive resource materials for those wishing to conduct research.

Ericson Photograph Collection, Humboldt State University Library

17. Scotia Museum & Mill Tour

Located in the northern part of Headwaters Forest Reserve. Exit Highway 101 just south of Eureka at the Elk River Road exit, then turn right on Elk River Road and follow for six miles (bear to the right where Elk River Road intersects Bustling mill camps sprang up throughout the Redwood Walnut). There is a Coast. Some turned into towns—some disappeared. parking area with informational signs at the reserve boundary. The town is a two-mile round trip hike—allow about one hour, and bring water. BLM info: 707-825-2300.

Dozens of tiny communities on the Redwood Coast began as lumber camps, primitive outposts in the deep forest where many men—and a few women—worked to harvest and mill the huge virgin redwood trees into lumber. Over the years, some of these grew into respectable towns with schools, churches and post offices. But this was no guarantee of permanence. The town of Falk was once home to 400 souls, employees of the Elk River Lumber Company and their families, but today there are but a few traces of this thriving community. Founded by Noah Falk in 1880, the Elk River Mill and its supporting town were at the terminus of an eight-mile rail line that ran to Bucksport on Humboldt Bay. For about 50 years the busy mill produced and shipped millions of board feet of prime lumber, but the Great Depression shut the mill down for good.Visit Falk and search for the faint trace of foundations, some small wooden structures, a Model T dumptruck and gardens run rampant…as the tenacious redwood forest reclaims its dominion. 20. Fort Humboldt State Historic Park Located off Highland Avenue, on the bluff overlooking the Bayshore Mall. From Highway 101/Broadway, turn east onto Highland, directly across from Marie Callender’s. Turn left into the fort. Open daily, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; admission is free. 707-445-6567. Steam-ups are held The Steam Donkey, adapted to logging by John Dolbeer, on the 3rd Saturday made logging the giant redwoods economically feasible. of the month, May through September.

Ericson Photograph Collection, Humboldt State University Library

Timber & Rail Heritage Trail

Once the value of redwood lumber was established, the Redwood Coast timbermen wouldn’t rest until they had learned how to harvest the largest trees. Platforms called “springboards” were set in the trunks allowing the lumberjacks to avoid cutting the thickest part near the base. To axes were added cross cut saws up to 24’ long, two-man tools appropriately dubbed “misery whips” used to make the necessary cuts when felling a tree. Horse and ox teams were replaced by the Steam Donkey, a stationary winch invented by John Dolbeer that dragged the huge logs through the forest with cables. Small logging locomotives traversed rail lines built deep into the woods (crossing ravines on high wooden trestles) to bring the timber to the mills. Fort Humboldt’s collection of historic logging equipment includes a c1890 Dolbeer type steam donkey, the Bear Harbor Lumber Co. Gypsy Locomotive #1 and the Elk River Mill and Lumber Co. #1 “Falk” locomotive. These are kept in working order and fired up occasionally on “Steam Up” days. There is also a small museum building displaying hand tools and other logging artifacts.

Humboldt Heritage Trails  

Step back in time and take a self-guided tour through historic Humboldt County. The guide details five heritage trails -- Native American, P...

Humboldt Heritage Trails  

Step back in time and take a self-guided tour through historic Humboldt County. The guide details five heritage trails -- Native American, P...

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