The recent announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers is about to begin work rebuilding Humboldt Bay’s jetties led me to take a look back at the history of those remarkable structures.
You may be surprised to learn that there is a direct connection between the jetties and Bayside.
The Humboldt Bay entrance was notoriously treacherous. By the late 1850s, shipping lumber out of the bay was big business, but it was difficult and unpredictable due to a combination of bad weather and the need to cross a tricky sand bar at the entrance.
Safety enhancements were made, including lighthouses and a bell boat, yet at least 80 people drowned, and many ships were lost, trying to make this crossing before 1880.
The Army Corps started thinking about how to make the entrance safer, and in 1889 began construction of a jetty on the south spit. The project eventually extended over 10 years and the construction of a pair of parallel jetties, one on either side of the bay’s entrance, defining the basic structures that we know today.
So what does this have to do with Bayside? In a word, stone.
The jetties were built of more than one million tons of it quarried from the upper reaches of Jacoby Creek (where there is now a short South Quarry Road).
The stone was blasted from the hillside, loaded by derrick into open-top flat cars, and hauled by locomotive down a railroad built by the Flanigan, Brosnan & Co, timber operation.
Their track ended in a long trestle into the bay, where the cars full of stone were rolled onto 100-foot long barges, each capable of carrying 21 railcars, seven each on three parallel tracks. The barges were towed across the bay to the jetty construction site, about 14 miles. At its height, 250 men were employed in this quarrying operation. An amazing reminder of what can be accomplished with the most basic of tools, back-breaking hard work and lots of ingenuity.
As for news... the Jacoby Creek Land Trust socially-distanced Picnic is coming up this Saturday.
I just got word of their beverage offerings, all locally handmade and really interesting: for adult beverages there are sangrias infused with local berries or with rose petals, a hard ginger lemonade and a tequila limeade. On the non-alcohol menu is blueberry-mint lemonade and an iced tea. Make your purchase at jcltlandtrust.org or call (707) 822-0900.
Are you picking apples yet? I noticed this week that Bob and Susan McPherson, who have a nice orchard of heirloom apples along Old Arcata Road, have their sign out with apples for sale.
If you’re thinking about some cider or applesauce, those are always better with a mix of varieties, so go check them out.
Speaking of cider, a new grinder and double-barrel apple press is en route to Bayside and will be available for public use in the next week or so.
Email [email protected] for info.
In other Bayside Hall news, a group of volunteers, led by Gordon VanZee, has now completed deer fencing of the backyard in preparation for landscaping with fruit trees and native plants.
By next summer this should be an amazing outdoor space.
Plans for a Fall Bayside Crafts Fair continue. Mark your calendar for Sunday, Sept. 20, and we’ll let you know when final approval with the county is in place.
Also at the Bayside Community Hall, curbside acupuncture continues on Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot.
As always, send comments, suggestions and news to [email protected] or call (707) 599-3192.