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Mineral Springs Resort
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Beginning in the 1870s a mineral springs resort was found in the hills above Fortuna. Dr. Theodore Dwight Felt founded his health spa five miles from Rohnerville in 1874, advertising "the finest and best mineral springs at present known in the state of California." Felt’s resort was located near today’s Newburg Road. The resort hotel was twice destroyed by fire, but Felt’s Springs — also known as Mountain Glen Springs — continued to be a popular resort.

In 1890 the Humboldt County business directory noted that the resort with its hotel and cottages could accommodate up to 60 people. The writers of the directory called it "one of the gem retreats of California for recreation and rest." Felt’s son advertised the resort as "endowed by nature with lovely Mountain Scenery, Medicinal Springs, Soothing and Warm Sulphur and Soda Baths, all Curative, Restoring and Refreshing." Even at the height of the timber industry era, Fortuna and the Eel River Valley were popular vacation spots.


Fortuna's Electric Lights
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In 1895 Fortuna became the first town in the Eel River Valley to have electric lights. Eureka was the first to have power in the county, but Fortuna was close behind. W.J. Swortzel and W.G. Williams who operated the Humboldt Milling Company made the decision to light the town. They put in a plant for $4000, and were soon supplying power to 600 lights, scattered throughout the valley. An 1896 newspaper article describes how a traveler to the region in a horse and buggy was trying to make it to Fortuna one evening. The traveler had to light a match frequently to make sure he was on the road. When he saw the lights of Fortuna, he knew he was safe. (Eel River Valley Advance, May 30, 1896.) 

Right: Electrical wires are very clearly visible in this photo of a parade on Main Street in 1898. 


 

 


Fortuna in the 1800s
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Rohnerville Race Track—On display at Fortuna Depot Museum
In 1893 Fortuna boasted a population of 700 residents.  It had two shingle mills, a lumber mill, excelsior (paper) mill, a moulding, door and sash mill.   There was also a cannary, hotels, stores, shops, two churches and a school.   Also, there was the weekly publication of The Fortuna Beacon.    

At the time Rohnerville was a separate town and was one of the first settled places in Humboldt County.  It had between 500 and 600 residents.  
Rohnerville was the site of  the annual fair for the Ninth District Agricultural Association.  The fair was held in September.  There was also a race track where frequent races were held.  

(In the Redwood’s Realm, 1987, p. 92-93). 



Telephone Service
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Telephone service came to Humboldt County as early as 1884.   That year 15 local business were connected in Eureka.    By 1895 the line was extended south and by the fall of that year, the towns in Humboldt County were connected to San Francisco.   The Pacific Lumber Company had their own line connected from Scotia, as did other large lumber companies.   The E.J. Dodge Lumber Company, the former Newburg Lumber company had had a connection since the mid 1880s.   The lines were connected through Alton. By 1915 the Humboldt County Telephone Directory boasted of 3,974 telephones.   The various businesses were advised to use the term telephone connection instead of telephone number.   The Fortuna Depot, now the Museum, boasted the connection of Main 623. 
(Points in Time, Evelyn McCormick, Rio Dell, 1992, p. 33-34).  

Rohnerville, 1870s
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In the 1870s Rohnerville boasted of having a college. St. Joseph's College brought in students from as far away as Santa Barbara and taught a variety of classes such as Latin, French, literature, natural philosophy, music and art. The college was an expensive venture and by 1875 Father Patrick Henneberry, the college's founder, and the college were in dire need of funding. Even after ten years of fund-raising around the world, when Henneberry returned to the college he was forced to close the campus. St. Joseph's reopened once more for a short time only to be officially closed in 1889.

www.sunnyfortuna.com/history/fortuna/henry-rohner.htm


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