Up at 7AM in the dark, I showered, packed and departed to visit some painted ladies of the town. No not that kind, but the beautiful Victorian Houses located throughout the city of Eureka. My Air BnB host told me of Hillsdale Street and Carson Mansion as places to see fine examples of this Victorian, Queen Anne style of architecture.
These wonderful homes are located throughout the city in various stages of maintenance that go from restored to dilapidated conditions, along Hillsdale Street they are well maintained and are a great display of this style of architecture. Visiting Hillsdale Street lined with these homes brought back such a noustalgic past life that would have transported me back in time if it weren’t for all the modern cars parked out front.
Next stop was to have a breakfast consisting of 2 blueberry pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, hash browns and a large glass of orange juice to fuel my day of sightseeing along the California and Oregon Coast, yes I was hungry and finished it all. I planned to visit several scenic overlooks and lighthouses along the way to my next stop just north of Coos Bay, OR only 218 miles (350.8k) and 4 ½ hours of drive time north.
My first stop was still in Eureka, just down the street from breakfast, the Carson Mansion. Placed on the Historic American Building Survey in 1964 it is one of the most photographed Victorian homes in California. Completed in 1884 it has been a private club since the 1950’s.
My next stops, lighthouses in Trinidad, CA and Crescent City, CA were also recommended by Patricia, my B&B host.
Prior to satellite and electronic navigation sailors relied on dead reckoning, compass and visual sittings to sail the waters of the oceans, during the darkness of night they relied on the stars and visual sightings. Many ships were lost due to running aground due to heavy weather along dangerous coastlines.
Fires built on hilltops once defined port access and placing that fire on a tall platform increased its visibility out to sea. Later lighthouses were located along coastlines to help define the coastal shoreline and locate dangerous areas that could sink a ship. In heavy fog, that is quite common along coastlines, so a light and foghorns (bells in olden times) warned mariners of hazards.
Trinidad Lighthouse is only 20 miles from Eureka located on Trinidad Head a small section of land jutting south out from the coast defining the harbor entrance. Built in 1871 the small 20-foot (6.1m) tall tower sits on a promontory 176 feet (53.6m) above the sea. Originally consisting of the light tower, a single residence, and small barn; a fog bell house was constructed in 1898 with a 4,000-pound (1,800 kg) bell that was operated by weights. The Trinidad Civic Club erected a facsimile of the tower in 1949 at a park overlooking the harbor and installed the original lighthouse lens in its structure and the 4,000-pound bell displayed alongside the tower. This Memorial is now under protest by local Native Americans stating it has been built on an ancient burial ground.
62 miles (99.7k) north of Trinidad is the Lighthouse in Crescent City on Battery Point. This lighthouse built in 1855 is on a tiny point of land that is only accessible during low tide. Built in a Cape Cod style of architecture this lighthouse survived the March 27, 1964 Alaska earthquake tsunami that hit the city and killed 11 people.
Heading into Oregon I stop 35 miles (56.3k) north at Whaleshead Beach to walk along the sand and enjoy the coastal scene.
Another 58 miles (93.2k) later I stopped at Cape Blanco Lighthouse at 3 PM. A lighthouse sitting on 200-foot (61m) high cliffs jutting 1-½ miles (2.4k) out into the Pacific Ocean, this forested head of land had to be cleared of the spruce forest so the light could be visible from sea. Getting out of the car was a struggle; the wind was blowing so hard I could barely stand up. Walking the ¾ mile or so path to the lighthouse along a ridge-line didn’t interest me today so I leaned against a pole just to get a steady photo of the lighthouse. I’ll return on a future trip to visit this one.
On the way in off Highway 101 I noticed a sign leading to the Hugh’s Historic House (Hughes Ranch) that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, I decided to go in and see it, as I didn’t make the journey to the lighthouse. Situated behind a hill it was in the calm leeward side away form the strong ocean winds. Built in 1898 for the dairy farm of Patrick and Jane Hughes this Victorian style two-story house was home to Mother, Father and 7 children. Local church groups decorated every room for the Christmas Holidays. The well appointed home with authentic furnishings was a joy to walk around and listen to the curators tell of life of the inhabitants.
Finishing the day’s 218-mile (350.8k) trek in North Bend, OR I stop for the night at a Quality Inn Hotel at 5 PM to rest for my final push to Vancouver, WA the next day. A nice clean quiet typical motel room awaited me that evening for another great nights rest.
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