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Eureka - California

Historic Eureka

Of all the early logging and lumber towns of northwestern California, Eureka is the most interesting to visit. Its logging industry is not altogether defunct, and the heritage of the area is remembered in several good museums.

Part of the downtown core of Eureka is "Old Town"—several blocks of restored and recreated buildings from the late 1800s—which are positioned near the waterfront. The city fathers decided, during the 1960s, to preserve the decaying area by gutting the impossible-to-renovate buildings and rebuilding the rest. The present town is a tribute to their foresight and perseverance.

What to See & Do

First and Second (Two Street to history-minded locals) are the central streets in the preserved quarter. Here are several good restaurants including the Carter House Inn -- a re-creation of a historic San Francisco mansion -- and the Romano Gabriel Sculpture Garden at Second and D streets. The Carson Mansion is worth a gaze for it is one of the state's best examples of gingerbread Victoriana. This state historical landmark at the head of 2nd Street is now a private men's club and the inside is not accessible to outsiders.

Sequoia Park at Glatt and W streets includes a modest zoo with sea otters, elk, prairie dogs and other wildlife, as well as picnic sites, trails through the trees, and flower gardens. The Eureka Chamber of Commerce, at 2112 Broadway (707-442-3738) has a walking tour map of Old Town with descriptions of the historic buildings.

Eureka Museums

Eureka provides an excellent focus for history buffs, with several worthwhile museums to visit. The Clark Memorial Museum is located in a columned building (a former bank) at Third and E streets in Old Town. The museum includes an extensive collection of artifacts of the Yurok, Hupa and Karuk tribes, such as woven baskets and dance regalia. These tribes inhabited the forests, shores and mud flats of Humboldt Bay before the gold searchers and loggers arrived in these parts.

Another replica -- of the first home built in Eureka, the McFarlan House -- is the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, containing lighthouse displays and other memorabilia of the sea. The museum operates its own cruise boat, the Madaket, a former ferry which celebrates its 90th birthday in June 2000. It's the oldest passenger vessel in the United States, and takes visitors on fascinating harbor tours. It left regular ferry service with the completion of the Samoa Bridge, and began its new life as a tour boat in 1972. Another claim to fame for the vessel is its status of having the smallest licensed bar in the state.

The Fort Humboldt Museum and State Historical Park is on Fort Avenue, at the south end of town. The original fort was the most northerly military post on the Pacific Coast during the mid-1880s and was commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant for a while. There are steam-era engines and other artifacts, old logging equipment and a wood-burning steam engine that offers rides during summer months.

Scenic Drives & Parks

The best scenic drive in the area is the road that crosses Humboldt Bay via the Samoa Bridge. The bay is hemmed in by two long peninsulas with a channel to the ocean between the two spits of land. The road crosses to the Samoa Peninsula and then turns north toward Arcata. The city operates an 18-hole golf course at 4750 Fairway Drive.

North of Eureka and Arcata is the North Humboldt Coast, with a scenic coastline, and the communities of Trinidad and McKinleyville. This part of the coast offers excellent places to stay, and several notable parks, including Patrick's Point State Park, and Redwood National Park. For information on this area, go to the Trinidad Page, and also several pages on Redwood National Park.

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Eureka, California

 


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