Pictures of many locations on the North Coast of California, including the giant redwoods, the national parks and towns in the Eel River Valley

All About Fortuna, the Friendly City!

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Fort Humboldt Journey1417 views
We're Number One!1193 viewsIn 1856 there were nine mills on Humboldt Bay and they were producing more lumber than anyplace else on the coast. Eureka soon had the most "extensive lumber district in the state" according to a state report. Loggers and lumbermen were a creative bunch as evidenced by the numerous inventions locally that advanced logging technology. One such local inventor was John Dolbeer of the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company. His adaptation and patent of the steam donkey revolutionized logging on the entire west coast and beyond. His first donkey was patented in April 1882 and an "improved logging machine," the vertical spool donkey, in December of 1883. He also patented a logging locomotive at the same time. Fort Humboldt's Elk River & Lumber Co. No. 1 is a Dolbeer locomotive as is Bear Harbor No. 1. They are the only two that still exist.
Van Duzen River Bridge at Highway 36 and Highway 101 (1914)1286 viewsNote 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.
Van Duzen River Bridge at Highway 36 and Highway 101 (1991)1157 viewsThe railroad bridge (Eureka Southern in 1991, the time this was taken) dates back to 1913. The center bridge was built in 1924 to replace the 1901 bridge.
And what a story! On November 20, 1924, flood conditions, combined with the battering of large drift material, washed the footwork from beneath the south and middle arches, as well as from beneath the south half of the north arch, causing the crown of the recently-poured north and south arches to deflect. This same flood also destroyed the elevating tower (used to pour the concrete), necessitating construction of a new one, and, in its early stages, also washed out the detour bridge.
With the detour bridge washed out, traffic was diverted along the south bank of the Van Duzen River to the Eel River, across the Eel on the Weymouth Bridge to Grizzly Bluff, and then back across the Eel again, on the East Ferry Bridge to Fortuna. This detour was in effect for two days, when the East Ferry Bridge washed out. Traffic was then detoured from Grizzly Bluff to Ferndale, then back across the Eel River to Fernbridge and on to Fortuna. This lasted just one day until the Weymouth Bridge washed out. Clearly, nature seemed to be getting out of hand.
The 1924 span was originally constructed for two lanes of opposing traffic, and was converted to two northbound lanes in 1952, following construction of the new southbound bridge. In 1974, the bridge was restricted to a single northbound lane because of the high accident rate resulting from the narrow lanes on this bridge. This was then the only single-lane section within a 104-mile stretch of Highway 101. When it was later rebuilt it was upgraded to current design standards including a bike lane.
Because of the span's characteristics and other factors, the bridge was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
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