Eureka serves as the county seat for Humboldt County. It is located on Highway 101 about seven hours (345 miles) north of San Francisco. Home to the Wiyot Indian Tribe prior to the arrival of Anglo-Europeans in the nineteenth century, Eureka boasts one of the best seaports on the northern California coast in Humboldt Bay at the mouth of the Eel River. There was a relatively short-lived gold rush in the nearby Trinity Mountains in the middle of the century, but mining was never as important in this region as it was in the Sierras further to the south. Historically, the land around Eureka was heavily forested with redwood trees being one of the principal species. Lumber was one of the earliest industries in the area and the old growth redwood forests have, over time, been severely depleted. Fortunately, some groves of these magnificent natural treasures are being protected in nearby national, state and regional parks.
The original town was, of course, constructed on the edge of the bay. Today, that portion of Eureka is being preserved as the historic center of the community. There are some fine Victorian buildings still standing with lumber baron William Carson's home (Queen Anne Victorian) being the standout example. Restaurants (fresh seafood), art galleries, bookstores, bars, and various interesting boutiques attract numerous visitors, but many, if not most, people who pass through town do not know what they are missing because the main thoroughfare skirts the restored part of town, traversing the usual drab line of gasoline stations, big box stores, motels, parking lots, and fast food emporiums instead. The impression one receives is not particularly positive and that is "way too bad" because Eureka has a lot to offer the visitor.
If you are a history buff you should definitely visit Fort Humboldt. Several military officers who went on to become famous served there as junior officers. In the same complex you will also find a small museum dedicated to early logging operations. Downtown, you will find the Clarke Historical Museum which is also worth a visit particularly because it houses a world renowned Native American basket collection. After you have exhausted the resources in town, we recommend that you consider using Eureka as a base from which you can explore a number of interesting destinations nearby in short day trips. There are numerous hiking opportunities including many in the redwoods as well as along the coast. Elk are to be found in several areas north of town. Birding is magnificent throughout the area with several wildlife refuges of particular note. Fishing is excellent in the bay and it's tributaries and there are enough miles of beach and sand dune to satisfy even the most inveterate beachcomber.