Humboldt County, California

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County of Humboldt
Aerial view of Humboldt Bay
Aerial view of Humboldt Bay
Official seal of County of Humboldt
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
Region California North Coast
Incorporated May 12, 1853[1]
Named for Humboldt Bay
County seat Eureka
Largest city Eureka
 • Total 4,052 sq mi (10,490 km2)
 • Land 3,568 sq mi (9,240 km2)
 • Water 484 sq mi (1,250 km2)
Highest elevation[2] 6,960 ft (2,120 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)[3]
 • Total 134,623
 • Estimate (2014)[3] 134,809
 • Density 33/sq mi (13/km2)
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Area code(s) 707, 530

Humboldt County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 134,623.[4] The county seat is Eureka.[5]

Humboldt County comprises the Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is located on the far North Coast 200 miles north of San Francisco.

Its primary population centers of Eureka, the site of College of the Redwoods main campus, and the smaller college town of Arcata, site of Humboldt State University, are located adjacent to Humboldt Bay, California's second largest natural bay.[6] Area cities and towns are known for hundreds of ornate examples of Victorian architecture.

Humboldt County is a densely forested mountainous, and rural county with about 110 miles of coastline (more than any other county in the state)[7] situated along the Pacific coast in Northern California's rugged Coast (Mountain) Ranges. With nearly 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of combined public and private forest in production, Humboldt County alone produces twenty percent of total volume and thirty percent of the total value of all forest products produced in California.[8] The county contains over forty percent of all remaining old growth Coast Redwood forests,[9] the vast majority of which is protected or strictly conserved within dozens of national, state, and local forests and parks, totaling approximately 680,000 acres (over 1,000 square miles).[10]


The original inhabitants of the area now known as Humboldt County include the Wiyot, Yurok, Hupa, Karuk, Chilula, Whilkut, and the Eel River Athapaskan peoples, including the Wailaki, Mattole and Nongatl.[11] Andrés de Urdaneta found the coast near Cape Mendocino then followed the coast south to Acapulco in 1565. Spanish traders made unintended visits to California with the Manila Galleons on their return trips from the Philippines beginning in 1565. Humboldt County was formed in 1853 from parts of Trinity County. The first recorded entry by people of European origin was a landing by the Spanish in 1775 in Trinidad.[11]

The first recorded entry of Humboldt Bay by non-natives was an 1806 visit from a sea otter hunting party from Sitka employed by the Russian American Company.[11] The hunting party included Captain Jonathan Winship, an American, and some Aleut hunters.[11][12] The bay was not visited again by people of European origin until 1849 when Josiah Gregg's party visited.[12] In 1850, Douglas Ottinger and Hans Buhne entered the bay, naming it Humboldt in honor of the great naturalist and world explorer, Baron Alexander von Humboldt, and the name was later applied to the country as a whole.

The area around Humboldt Bay was once solely inhabited by the Wiyot Indian tribe. One of the largest Wiyot villages, Tolowot, was located on Indian Island in Humboldt Bay. Founded around 900 BCE, it contains a shell midden 6 acres (2.4 ha) in size and 14 feet (4.3 m) deep. It was the site of the February 26, 1860 massacre of the Wiyot people that was recorded by Bret Harte, then living in Union, now called Arcata. Between 60 and 200 Wiyot men, women, and children were murdered that night. Tolowot is now a restricted site and a National Historic Landmark.[12]

State historic landmarks in Humboldt County include Arcata and Mad River Railroad, California's First Drilled Oil Wells in Petrolia, Camp Curtis, Centerville Beach Cross, the City of Eureka, the town of Ferndale, Fort Humboldt, Humboldt Harbor Historical District, the Jacoby Building, The Old Arrow Tree, Old Indian Village of Tsurai, the Town of Trinidad, and Trinidad Head.[12]

On February 5 and February 6, 1885, Eureka's entire Chinese population of 300 men and 20 women were expelled after a gunfight between rival Chinese gangs (tongs) resulted in the wounding of a 12-year-old boy and the death of 56-year-old David Kendall, a Eureka City Councilman. After the shooting, an angry mob of 600 Eureka residents met and informed the Chinese that they were no longer wanted in Eureka and would be hanged if they were to stay in town longer than 3 p.m. the next day. They were put on two steamships and shipped to San Francisco. No-one was killed in the expulsion. Another Chinese expulsion occurred during 1906 in a cannery on the Eel River, in which 23 Chinese cannery workers were expelled after objections to their presence. However, some Chinese remained in the Orleans area, where some white landowners sheltered and purchased food for the Chinese mineworkers until after racial tension passed. Chinese did not return to the coastal cities until the 1950s.[13]


The coastal zone of the county experiences wet, cool winters and dry, mild foggy summers. In the winter, highs range from the low 40's to high 50's (5 to 15 °C), with lows in the 30's and 40's (0 to 9 °C). Coastal summers are cool to mild, with average highs in the 60's (16 to 21 °C) and frequent fogs. Moving 20 miles (32 km) inland one can find abundant sunshine and warmth, a significant change from the coast's foggy climate. Numerous shipwrecks have been attributed to severe fog. Coastal summer highs range from the mid-60s to 70's (18 to 21 °C), with lows from the upper 40's to mid 50's (8 to 13 °C). In the populated areas and cities near the coast, the highest temperatures tend to occur at locations just a few miles inland from Eureka and Arcata, in towns like Fortuna, Rio Dell, and smaller unincorporated communities located somewhat further away from Humboldt Bay. In these locations summer highs measure in the low to mid 70's (21 to 24 °C). The coastal zone experiences a number of frosty nights in winter and early spring, though snowfall and hard freezes are rare. Coastal winters are cool and wet. Winter rainstorms are frequent, with averages from 30 inches (760 mm) to 100 inches (2,500 mm) a year varying with elevation.

Inland areas of the county also experience wet, cool winters. Snowfall is common at elevations over 3,000 ft (910 m) throughout the winter months. Summer displays the sharpest difference between the coastal and inland climates. Inland regions of Humboldt County experience highs from the 80's to the 90's (27 to 37 °C) depending on the elevation and distance from the ocean. Occasional summer highs of 100 degrees (38 °C) are common in eastern and southern parts of the county including Orleans, Hoopa, Willow Creek, Garberville, Honeydew, and inland river valleys.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for warmest and coldest months in selected settlements of Humboldt County[14]
Location Month Temp (°F) Temp (°C) Month Temp (°F) Temp (°C)
Eureka August 64/52 18/11 December 55/40 12/4
Arcata September 62/51 17/11 December 54/38 12/3
Ferndale August 71/52 22/11 December 56/39 13/4
Willow Creek July 94/52 34/11 December 50/35 10/1
Garberville August 87/53 31/12 December 49/37 9/3
Shelter Cove August 69/53 21/11 January 57/45 14/7
Orick August 69/49 21/9 January 52/37 11/2


Historically, Humboldt County and the entire far north coast have had many earthquakes over 6.0 magnitude.

The 1992 Cape Mendocino earthquakes were a series of three major earthquakes that occurred off the coast of Cape Mendocino, California on April 25 and 26, 1992, the largest being a 7.2. Ninety-five people were injured and property in the county sustained considerable damage.[15]

In 2010 a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck offshore, 33 mi. (53 km) west of Eureka, resulting in only minor injuries and some structural damage to houses and utilities, and no fatalities reported.[16]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,052 square miles (10,490 km2), of which 3,568 square miles (9,240 km2) is land and 484 square miles (1,250 km2) (12.0%) is water.[17]

Located inside Humboldt County is Cape Mendocino, the westernmost point in California (longitude124 degrees, 24 minutes, 30 seconds).

Humboldt County contains a diversity of plant and animal species, with significant forest and coastal habitats. In coastal areas there are extensive amounts of redwood forests.[18] A prominent understory shrub is the toyon, whose northern range limit is in Humboldt County.[19]


Humboldt Bay, the only deep water port between San Francisco and Coos Bay, Oregon, is located on the coast at the midpoint of the county.


Mouth of Humboldt County's Little River on the Pacific Coast.
Rockefeller Forest, the largest remaining old growth Redwood forest on earth, is located within Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Humboldt County's major rivers include (in order of flow-cubic meters per second-from largest to smallest):

The smaller rivers include: Redwood Creek, significant due to amount of its flow; the Van Duzen; the Eel River syncline group composed of the South Fork, the North Fork, and the Salt River; the Mattole, Salmon, Elk, Bear, and Little rivers.

National protected areas

National Park

Conservation Area

Recreation Area


Wildlife Refuge

State protected areas



Recreation Areas


County parks



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 2,694
1870 6,140 127.9%
1880 15,512 152.6%
1890 23,469 51.3%
1900 27,104 15.5%
1910 33,857 24.9%
1920 37,413 10.5%
1930 43,233 15.6%
1940 45,812 6.0%
1950 69,241 51.1%
1960 104,892 51.5%
1970 99,692 −5.0%
1980 108,514 8.8%
1990 119,118 9.8%
2000 126,518 6.2%
2010 134,623 6.4%
Est. 2014 134,809 0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[40]
1790–1960[41] 1900–1990[42]
1990–2000[43] 2010–2014[4]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Humboldt County had a population of 134,623. The racial makeup of Humboldt County was 109,920 (81.7%) White, 1,505 (1.1%) African American, 7,726 (5.7%) Native American, 2,944 (2.2%) Asian, 352 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 5,003 (3.7%) from other races, and 7,173 (5.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13,211 persons (9.8%).[44]


As of the 2000 census, the population of Humboldt County was 126,518. As of that census, there were 51,238 households in Humboldt County, and the population density was 35 people per square mile (14/km²). By 2006, the population was projected to have increased to 131,361 by the California Department of Finance.[45] There were 55,912 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile (6/km²).[citation needed] The racial makeup of the county was 84.7% White, 0.9% Black or African American, 5.7% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 2.5% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. 6.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.3% were of German, 10.7% Irish, 10.3% English, 7.4% American and 5.7% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 92.1% spoke English and 4.6% Spanish as their first language.

There were 51,238 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,226, and the median income for a family was $39,370. Males had a median income of $32,210 versus $23,942 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,203. About 12.9% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.5% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.

The Lanphere Dunes, a protected coastal environment


Humboldt County is known for its impressive redwood trees, and many acres of private redwood timberland make Humboldt the top timber producer in California. The lush river bottoms adjacent to the ocean are renowned for producing rich, high-quality dairy products. Somewhat more inland the warmer valleys have historically produced abundant apples and other fruit. More recently vineyards have been planted in the Trinity, Klamath, Mattole and upper Eel river valleys.


Humboldt County is known for its quality family operated dairy farms. The Humboldt Creamery, a significant producer of high grade ice cream and other dairy products, still operates from the original headquarters located at Fernbridge adjacent to the Eel River.[46]


Humboldt County is known for its cultural attributes associated with the cultivation and proliferation of marijuana.[47][48] Proposition 215 allows patients and caregivers who are given a doctor's recommendation to legally (State level only) grow up to 99 plants in Humboldt County.[49] David Samuels of The New Yorker describes the county as "the heartland of high-grade marijuana farming in California."[50] However, in the years before Prop 215 (early 1970s-late 1980s), Humboldt County saw a large migration of the Bay Area counter-culture to its region. Many came looking to purchase cheap land, and ended up growing marijuana to pay for their land. Especially around Garberville and Redway, the rural culture and hippie scene eventually collaborated to create a rural hippie community in which marijuana became the center of the economy. Many people prospered by exporting their marijuana down the California coast and to other states because of its reputation for quality. A Redway radio station, KMUD, in the past has issued warnings and alerts to the region with information on whereabouts of law enforcement on their way to raid marijuana gardens.[51] The 2008 independent film Humboldt County centers on the county's marijuana cultivation subculture.


Voter registration

Cities by population and voter registration


Humboldt County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2012 33.8% 15,653 60.0% 27,757 6.2% 2,859
2008 34.1% 21,713 62.3% 39,692 4.0% 2,559
2004 39.0% 25,714 57.7% 37,988 3.3% 2,184
2000 41.5% 23,219 44.4% 24,851 14.1% 7,902
1996 35.5% 19,803 44.2% 24,628 20.3% 11,326
1992 30.5% 18,299 48.1% 28,854 21.4% 12,868
1988 41.2% 21,460 57.1% 29,781 1.7% 905
1984 51.6% 27,832 46.8% 25,217 1.6% 842
1980 49.4% 24,047 35.2% 17,113 15.5% 7,532
1976 41.6 18,034 54.2% 23,500 4.2% 1,838
1972 48.8% 22,345 46.2% 21,132 5.0% 2,286
1968 46.2% 16,719 45.5% 16,476 8.3% 3,019
1964 33.5% 12,909 66.3% 25,515 0.2% 75
1960 46.7% 18,074 52.7% 20,391 0.6% 226
1956 52.6% 19,019 47.1% 17,025 0.4% 133
1952 60.1% 19,949 39.0% 12,949 0.9% 293
1948 47.2% 10,979 48.4% 11,268 4.4% 1,019
1944 42.9% 9,127 56.8% 12,083 0.2% 50
1940 43.0% 9,470 56.0% 12,329 1.0% 225
1936 36.0% 6,808 62.9% 11,909 1.1% 208
1932 42.2% 6,795 54.2% 8,723 3.6% 577
1928 69.8% 9,162 28.4% 3,726 1.9% 247
1924 56.8% 6,767 7.1% 845 36.1% 4,298
1920 69.9% 6,528 19.0% 1,778 11.1% 1,034
Election results from statewide races
Year Office Results
2010 Governor Brown 56.3 - 36.2%
Lieutenant Governor Newsom 53.7 - 34.9%
Secretary of State Bowen 54.3 - 33.6%
Controller Chiang 58.0 - 30.1%
Treasurer Lockyer 57.6 - 31.4%
Attorney General Harris 50.0 - 36.9%
Insurance Commissioner Jones 49.0 - 33.2%

From 1920 to 1984, the county voted for the national winner of each Presidential election held within these years. Since 1988, Humboldt has been a Democratic county in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican presidential candidate to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan, a Californian, in 1984.[53]

Humboldt County is in California's 2nd congressional district, represented by Democrat Jared Huffman.[54]

In the state legislature, Humboldt is part of the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Mike McGuire,[55] and the 2nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jim Wood.[56]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates


The List of schools in Humboldt County, California shows the many school districts, including charter and private schools, at the elementary and high school level. Post-secondary education is offered locally at the College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University. Blue Lake's Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre offers accredited three-year Masters of Fine Arts in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre




The Times-Standard is the only daily newspaper in the region; in continuous publication since 1854, and owned by Media News Group since 1996,[61][62] they also print three weeklies: the Redwood Times,[63] the Tri-City Weekly,[64] and Northcoast 101.[65] Other local publications include The Independent, the North Coast Journal,[66] the Ferndale Enterprise,[67] the Two Rivers Tribune,[68] the Isis Scrolls,[69] and The Lumberjack.[70] The Arcata Eye and the McKinleyville Press merged in August 2013 to form the Mad River Union.[71][72]


Humboldt County's locally produced television stations, KIEM and KEET, are based in Eureka. KIEM produces the only local TV newscast and KEET is the only PBS station in the region. CBS and Fox affiliates KVIQ and KBVU, the latter a semi-satellite of KCVU, are based in Chico and ABC affiliate KAEF, a semi-satellite of KRCR-TV, is based in Redding. In previous decades all major networks had production capacity in Eureka.




Community media

Community broadband networks and public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable tv channels provide air time for local voices on Access Humboldt.[94] Cable TV channels are carried by Suddenlink Communications[95] and local programs are provided online through the Community Media Archive.[96] The Digital Redwoods initiative of Access Humboldt is developing local networks to meet comprehensive community needs, including public, education and government purposes.[97]


Historic Fernbridge (1911) on the "Road to Ferndale" - California State Route 211

Major highways

Public transportation

  • Humboldt Transit Authority operates two fixed route transit bus systems:
    • Redwood Transit System provides intercity service to and within communities between Trinidad and Scotia, including Manila, King Salmon, Field's Landing, Loleta, Fernbridge and Fortuna. HTA also offers service between McKinleyville or Arcata and Willow Creek and an express bus between Arcata and College of the Redwoods when classes are in session.
    • Eureka Transit Service, operated in the City of Eureka, provides local service on four scheduled routes (one hour headway) in Eureka and its adjacent unincorporated communities. Connections can be made to the Redwood Transit System at several places in Eureka.
  • Arcata and Mad River Transit System, operated by the City of Arcata with funding from Humboldt State University. A&MRTS provides fixed route local bus service on two scheduled routes (one hour headway) in Arcata and an additional route between the Valley West Neighborhood and the university when classes are in session.
  • The city of Blue Lake and the Blue Lake Rancheria operates the Blue Lake Rancheria Transit Authority. Blue Lake Rancheria Transit provides fixed route intercity transit bus service (one hour headway) between Arcata and the Blue Lake Rancheria Indian Reservation and casino and local service within the city of Blue Lake.
  • Del Norte County's Redwood Coast Transit operates fixed route intercity transit bus service between Arcata and Crescent City or Smith River.
  • Amtrak Thruway bus has stops in many towns in the region, including Eureka, Arcata, and Fortuna. These stops are not managed by Amtrak and therefore have no services beyond serving passengers. Full service is only provided at the train station in Martinez, near San Francisco.


Arcata-Eureka Airport is located in McKinleyville (north of Arcata). Commercial flights are available. Other (general aviation) airports are located at Dinsmore, Garberville, Kneeland, Murray Field (Eureka), Samoa Field and Rohnerville (Fortuna).


Port of Humboldt Bay - on Humboldt Bay, California's second largest natural bay.


Name Month Location Citation
Apple Harvest Festival October Fortuna [98]
Arcata Oyster Festival June Arcata Plaza [99]
Azalea Festival June McKinleyville [citation needed]
Avenue of The Giants Marathon May Southern Humboldt [100]
Blackberry Festival July Westhaven [101]
Blues by the Bay July Eureka [102]
Brew at the Zoo May Eureka [103]
Chicken Wingfest September Eureka [104]
Craftsman's Days November Eureka [105]
College of the Redwoods Wood Fair June Eureka [106]
Fourth of July Festival July 4 Old Town Eureka [107]
Humboldt Pride September Arcata [108]
Godwit Days (Birding festival) April Arcata [109]
Humboldt Arts Festival May Arcata/Blue Lake [110]
Humboldt County Fair August Ferndale [111]
Humboldt Film Festival March & April Arcata [112]
Humboldt Juggling Festival April/May Arcata (HSU) [113]
Humboldt Redwoods Marathon October Southern Humboldt [114]
Mushroom Fair November Eureka [115]
North Country Fair September Arcata [116]
Organic Planet Festival September Eureka [117]
Redwood Acres Fair June Eureka [118]
Redwood Coast Jazz Festival March Eureka [119]
Redwood Run June Southern Humboldt [120]
Rhododendron Festival and Parade April Eureka [121]
Roll on the Mattole Summer Mattole Grange [122]
Summer Arts and Music Festival June Benbow [123]
Swauger's Station Day July Loleta [124]
Tour of Loleta (by Bicycle) July Loleta [125]
Tour of the Unknown Coast (by Bicycle) May Southern Humboldt [126]
Trinidad Fish Festival June Trinidad [127]
Trinidad to Clam Beach Run February Trinidad [128]
Truckers Christmas Parade December Eureka [129]
Two Rivers Harvest Festival October Willow Creek [130]
World-Championship Kinetic Sculpture Race May Arcata to Ferndale [131]
Zootini August Eureka [103]


The Carson Mansion of Eureka, the premier Victorian home of the State, in a county where hundreds of 19th Century homes remain.


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Indian reservations

Humboldt County has eight Indian reservations lying within its borders. Only four other counties in the United States have more: San Diego County, California; Sandoval County, New Mexico; Riverside County, California; and Mendocino County, California. The Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation is the largest in the state of California, a state that generally has very small reservations (although very numerous) relative to those in other states.

Notable people

See also


  1. Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  2. Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  3. 3.0 3.1 Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.
  4. Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.


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  30. Moonstone Beach, Humboldt County Parks, 2013
  31. Van Duzen Pamplin Grove, Humboldt County Parks, 2013
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Further reading

External links

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