Fort Humboldt

Park Brochure

brochure Fort Humboldt - Park Brochure
Fort Humboldt State Historic Park Our Mission The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. Living History events reenact the daily lives of officers and their families at Fort Humboldt. California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (707) 488-2041. This publication can be made available in alternate formats. Contact interp@parks.ca.gov or call (916) 654-2249. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov Discover the many states of California.™ SaveTheRedwoods.org/csp Fort Humboldt State Historic Park 3431 Fort Avenue Eureka, CA 95503 (707) 488-2041 © 2009 California State Parks (Rev. 2012) F ort Humboldt State Historic Park is built on the edge of Humboldt Bay near Eureka in scenic northwest California. The fort gives visitors a glimpse of pioneerera military life in the mid-19th century. County. Archaeological and historical evidence points to a flourishing Wiyot culture thousands of years old. Primarily hunters and gatherers, they dwelled in an area rich in edible resources. The village of Tuluwat, Fort Humboldt taken from on nearby Indian Island in Humboldt Bay, 1860s Natural History Arcata Bay, was the Wiyot physical The bluff where Fort Humboldt sits is and spiritual center. They held annual composed of alluvial and marine deposits, world-renewal ceremonies at Tuluwat to sand, and sedimentary clay. Loamy topsoil bring the world back into balance and heal covers these layers. its social discord. The deer and bear that once inhabited Worlds in Conflict the redwoods surrounding Fort Humboldt After Major Pierson B. Reading discovered are now gone—along with the redwoods. gold at the Trinity River in May 1849, the Spruce and alder trees grow on the west ensuing gold fever brought the traditional shoulder of the bluff; willows and berries Wiyot way of life to an end. Fortune-seekers have filled in the freshwater pond south of were lured to the state. Uniontown (later the bluff. renamed Arcata, its original native name), Typical of coastal redwood regions, Bucksport and Eureka sprang up around Eureka is foggy year-round, with average Humboldt Bay, and newcomers sought temperatures in the 50s and 60s. the native peoples’ territory. Rather than clearing the redwoods from Park History unoccupied land, settlers Native People took over Indian villages California Indians have lived in the and traditional hunting northwestern area for several thousand and fishing sites; many years. About 14 tribes lived in the Wiyot died defending redwood forest region later served by Fort themselves and their Humboldt, including the Wiyot, Yurok, homes. Violence Whilkut, Nongatl, Mattole, Sinkyone, escalated; bloody battles Hupa, Karuk and Yurok people. The Wiyot ensued as vigilantes attacked occupied the area now known as Humboldt the native people. Desperate settlers also appealed for help from the government. Fort Humboldt Established In January 1853, Fourth Infantry U.S. Army soldiers, led by Brevet Lt. Colonel Robert C. Buchanan, arrived at Humboldt Bay to broker peace. Buchanan selected a fort site on a high, barren bluff overlooking the bay above Bucksport. By 1857, 14 redwood and plaster structures had been built in a “U” shape around a parade ground. Due to its strategic location high on the bluff, no outer walls or palisades were built to protect the company of soldiers. The Military Dilemma The military troops found themselves acting as mediators between settlers and Indians to resolve conflicts and avoid violence. Many newcomers wanted the indigenous people moved to reservations out of the area. In an effort to bring about a sustainable peace, seven agreements were signed with California Indians living between Clear Lake and the Klamath River. These treaties were Surgeon’s quarters never ratified by the government, and the tribes never received the land that they had been promised. When most federal troops departed for the Civil War, prominent local citizens formed a self-proclaimed militia. On February 26, 1860, the militia attacked five separate Wiyot villages over a 30-hour period, massacring several hundred unarmed Indians. The village of Kutuswalik, within sight of Fort Humboldt, was burned completely. The Army built an 80-foot open corral near the fort to hold both captive Indian prisoners and those who sought refuge at the fort from vigilantes. Fed an unfamiliar diet of hardtack and beans, some native Californians died of dysentery; others were killed in continuing violent outbursts. More than 200 Wiyot people died before the remainder could be forcibly resettled on reservations. Today, the surviving descendants of the Wiyot have established federal recognition. They have regained portions of Indian Island and are restoring its plundered sacred sites. Life at the Fort A bugle call or drum beat regulated the routine of fort life. Fort Humboldt’s supplies, mail, and even soldiers’ pay were often delayed for months. Away from family and friends, isolated and lonely, soldiers found that time passed slowly; many deserted. One unhappy young captain, Ulysses S. Grant, was stationed at Fort Humboldt in 1854. He was a loner, preferring to spend his leisure time at a nearby tavern or riding in the countryside near the fort. After five months, Captain Grant resigned his commission and went home to farm. He later rejoined the Army during the Civil War, soon promoted to colonel and rose to lead the Union troops as general. In 1869, Grant became the 18th president of the United Ulysses S. Grant States, serving two terms. Seth Kinman was a hunter who supplied elk meat to troops at Fort Humboldt and entertained the soldiers with tales of his exploits with grizzly bears. Kinman played music for the soldiers on his fiddle, made from the skull of his favorite Seth Kinman mule, “Dave.” Harriet St. John Simpson, her husband Assistant Surgeon Josiah Simpson, and their children enjoyed their post in the surgeon’s quarters from 1854 to 1857. Mrs. Simpson chronicled life at the fort in lively letters to her family back East. Her letters and sketches provide a clear historical record of daily fort life. She often threw parties Harriet Simpson for the fort’s officers and their families, detailing both her menus and her servants’ cooking methods. Fort Humboldt Today The fort was abandoned as a military post in 1870. The W. S. Cooper family bought the land with its remaining hospital in 1893. In the early 1920s, Mrs. Laura Cooper donated the property to the City of Eureka to commemorate U. S. Grant’s service as the fort’s Quartermaster. The City tranferred title to the State; Fort Humboldt became a state historic park in 1963. The period house museum in the reconstructed surgeon’s quarters is open for viewing. The herb and flower garden is filled with authentic period plantings. Along the parade grounds, a gravel path connects Native American exhibits with threedimensional fort-era exhibits and an openair logging display. Accessible FEATURES Parking, restrooms, trails and exhibits are generally accessible. The museum is accessible from mostly level paths. PLEASE REMEMBER • The park is open for day use only. • Except for leashed service animals, pets are not allowed in park buildings. Nearby STATE PARKS Off Hwy. 101 • Azalea State Natural Reserve, Hwy. 200, McKinleyville 95519 (707) 488-2041 • Little River State Beach, Crannell Rd. Trinidad 95570 (707) 488-2041 This park receives support in part from a nonprofit organization. Redwood Parks Association 1111 Second St., Crescent City, CA 95531 (707) 464-9150 www.redwoodparksassociation.org

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