Humboldt County Historical Society

Humboldt Historian

Fall 2017

With the exception of Native Americans, who have resided on this continent from time immemorial, we other Americans, it is often said, are all immigrants. No wonder immigrant narratives never cease to compel our interest, whether from 200 years ago or from our present moment—for America remains a land of hope for peoples across the globe. Our opening story features Karl Nilsen, a young man from Norway who found work in the Humboldt woods, and, like so many immigrants of the era, sent money back home to help his family. Author Peggy Wheeler takes us to join Karl in 1917 Humboldt, and then to accompany him back to Europe to join General John J. Pershing’s embattled troops in France.
Surely the greatest botanical event of the last century was the discovery of a third Redwood species, the deciduous Dawn Redwood. Barry Evans has the story of the Metasequoia and its champions on page 18.
We recently asked readers for their stories of the strong women in their families, and Rowetta Stapp Miller responded with the life of her mother, Isabel Marie Stapp. Here is a real story of pioneer living in the twentieth century marvelously told.
We know you will enjoy Nancy Bendorf McLaughlin’s delightful reminiscence of attending Camp Kimtu, and the humorous fishing tales told by her onetime Fortuna High classmate, Alan Lufkin, in “Fernbridge Pool.”
If you find driving the Hoopa Bluffs highway to be a bit vertiginous, imagine being on the road crew who built it. Margaret Wooden has the facts on page 40. And don’t miss our wonderful readers’ letters on page 6.

Welcome to the Fall 2017 Humboldt Historian.
— From the Editor


Volume 65, No. 3

Hans Karl Nilsen and the Great War
Peggy Wheeler
Norwegian immigrant working in the woods of Humboldt is sent to the battlefields of Argonne and Flanders Fields.

The Dawn Redwood and Ralph Works Chaney: History's Mysteries
Barry Evans
A fossil comes to life: the amazing discovery of a third redwood species.

Rowetta Stapp Miller
For a first time away from home, the Camp Fire Girls’ Camp Kimtu was just about right.

Isabel Marie Stapp
Maria Bonomini Briggs and Jack Nash
The author’s mother raised her large lively family in difficult conditions with grace and dignity.

Fernbridge Pool 
Alan Lufkin
Three tales of a famous fishing hole from a North Coast fisherman.

Building a Highway Across the Hoopa Bluffs
Margaret Wooden
The original construction of the Weitchpec to Hoopa road.