Bayside Corners: Bustling 1880s Jacoby Creek Valley

Those of us who live in Bayside are well aware that we are fortunate to live in such a lovely place. But sometimes a look into the past is helpful in illuminating the present. The valley we know today is thoroughly transformed from the land that was home to the Wiyot long before we arrived.

In November of 1887, the Arcata Union newspaper ran a 4-part series on the local resources of the Jacoby Creek valley. The anonymous writer started by describing how the valley bottom was when white settlers first arrived: forested with spruce “of giant dimensions,” alder, ash, willow, maple and pepperwood, all covered by a “jungle” of “shimmering emerald foliage,” and regularly visited by deer, elk and bear. Salmon by the thousands crowded up the stream we now call Jacoby Creek. 

Over the course of three decades the entire valley bottom was cleared and planted with well-tilled fields of grain and vegetables. Houses were built, along with a school, post office, and general store, and a railroad was constructed up the valley (a significant engineering feat as the bay’s tidal wetlands extended much further than now) to provide access to the real riches: huge redwood trees covering “the ground at 50 to 60 M feet per acre.” 

But there were other resources deemed important as well: rock outcrops of marble, limestone, sandstone, granite and quartz, and, a surprise to me, huge redwood stumps that, provided “a method be advised for cutting the stumps into sections” could provide material for veneers, panels and posts, Tanoak bark, used in leather processing, was another resource that had the potential to employ hundreds, though it is unclear to me whether this industry ever materialized.

Today, various enterprises still extract timber and stone from the valley, but at a pretty small scale. It is hard to imagine the noise and activity of the 1880s, when hundreds of men were employed in such labors, and where every year saw the construction of new stores, buildings and houses.

Bayside Holiday Market

Check out the Bayside Holiday Market Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. at Bayside Community Hall. Thursday Dec. 3 is charity shopping day for Boys and Girls Club of the Redwoods, which will receive 10 percent of gross proceeds.

Drop off warm winter clothing (size large and up) and non-perishable foods for relief projects in the Hall’s lobby during Holiday Market hours.

And stay safe.

As always, send any thoughts, comments, Bayside news to [email protected].


Related posts