Historical Background of Crescent City


Historical Background of Crescent City

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Crescent City. Crescent City is known for its quaint harbor with sea lions, a long beautiful beach, the Battery Point Lighthouse and has one of the most interesting histories in the state of California.

First Inhabitants of the Crescent City Area

The Athabascan-speaking Tolowa tribe occupied the northern part of Del Norte County, including the area that embraces current-day Crescent city. In the early part of the 1800s, their population was believed to have been around 10,000. In 1860, a number of them were relocated to reservations in Oregon and California. They were known to practice the Ghost Dance religion in the latter part of the 1800s.

Famous Early Visitor to the Future Crescent City

Jedediah Strong Smith, famed as a trapper, hunter and frontiersman, was the first American to explore the area of the future Del Norte County. He is reported to have camped in the area that later became Crescent City in 1828. He was also the first person to have direct contact with the local Tolowa tribe. As local residents know, the Smith River and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park are named after him.

Founding of the Town

Gold was discovered in California in 1848 at the Trinity River by Major Pierson B. Reading, which saw an influx of gold seekers. A legend related to gold in California may have been responsible for the founding of Crescent City.


Brother Jonathan Cemetery in Crescent City

The Legend of the Lost Cabin Filled With Gold

According to this legend, which was commonly known at the time, one miner headed out with his rifle and mining supplies, crossed over the Coast Range and began prospecting near the ocean’s shore. He supposedly hit the mother lode and decided to build a cabin in the woods among the giant trees, gather as much gold as possible and then return to San Francisco. Natives attacked him, wounding him severely, and burned the cabin. When the miner recovered consciousness, he was addled in the head. Somehow, he wandered out of the woods to civilization and made his way back to San Francisco. He returned to San Francisco just shortly before his death, he told his friends of his discovery and described where the cabin was located and then he died.

The Search for Crescent City

Among the parties searching for the cabin was a Captain McDerraott who, in 1851, ascended to the top of French Hill, spotting the bay. Another party headed for the coast looking for the Crescent City harbor bay in 1852, which was a long and arduous journey. Camping nearby, they sent Richard Humphreys back to San Francisco to charter a boat and bring it to now known as Crescent City Bay. When Humphreys arrived in San Francisco, he talked J.F. Wendell into organizing an expedition. Setting sail, they arrived at Crescent City Bay (then called Paragon Bay) in late 1852.

Crescent City Becomes a Town

Around 1852 or 1853, A.M. Eosborough bought a land warrant on behalf of J.F. Wendell for 320 acres. This land is where the town Crescent City now stands. It was divided into lots in February, 1853, and the town was named Crescent City due to its location on the bay. Original purchasers of the lots included A.M. Eosborough, W.A. Thorp and G.W. Jordan, among others. The grant was later declared void and the early settlers purchased the land from the federal government for $2.50 per acre. This greatly helped to increase the number of residents.

The First Crescent City Mercantiles

Three mercantile houses were set up quickly and imported merchandise on a schooner. The third mercantile house brought in a shipment on the Pomona. Lighters were used to bring merchandise as close to shore as possible, then carried to shore through the surf. Because supplies were low at this point, a large crowd gathered at the beach to purchase the goods. By sunset, the buyers had purchased about $1,500 in goods, an enormous amount of money for the day.

Crescent City Progresses Rapidly

F.E. Weston worked for a San Francisco company called E.F. Knox & Co. Weston was in charge of setting up a sawmill which the company had shipped on the schooner Pomona. The sawmill was located at the corner of Third and C streets and was used to produce the lumber from which Crescent City houses were constructed. A bigger sawmill was built soon after and a grist mill was added in 1856. The mills and surrounding area all burned down in 1860, except for the home occupied by Judge Hamilton. Battery Point Lighthouse was built in 1856 to make the use of the bay easier for shipping. By 1858, a plank road had been built to the current ghost town of Waldo, Oregon.

Tsunamis in Crescent City

Since 1933, Crescent City has been hit periodically by tsunamis. The Good Friday earthquake in 1964, measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale, was the biggest recorded in North America and second biggest in the world. It was centered near Prince William Sound and killed 17 persons along the coast, along with 115 people in Alaska. Eleven of the victims were from Crescent City, and there was $15 million in property damage. The USC Tsunami Center reports that it was the “largest and most destructive recorded tsunami to ever strike the United States Pacific Coast.” The harbor was also damaged severely by a tsunami in 2011, caused by an earthquake in Japan.

Crescent City Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Crescent City. Personal injuries are caused by the negligence of another individual or entity. They may result from car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or boat accidents, and wrongful death. When you have been injured by a negligent driver or other type of negligence, call me at (707) 564-1900 or toll free at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also have me contact you through my online contact form on the website.

I have served the people of California as a personal injury lawyer since 1982.

Reviews from former clients and peers can be found on Yelp, Avvo and Google Plus.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This group is open only to lawyers who have been awarded $1 million and multimillion dollar settlements and verdicts for clients.

For further information, feel free to visit my Past Verdicts and Settlements page.

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Client Reviews

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