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As It Was: Community Grows Up at Wenger Mill North of Crescent City

A small, bustling community emerged at the Wenger Mill as it reached full operation about 1900 at the upper end of Lake Earl, three miles north of Crescent City, Calif.

The cookhouse stood next to the mill.  Alongside it, single men resided in a long bunkhouse and several cabins.  Workers with families occupied houses that lined both sides of the lake a half-mile walk from the schoolhouse.

The community hall with side benches and an elevated stage served public gatherings.  A cast-iron stove warmed the cloakroom, where tired youngsters slept comfortably on piles of coats until their parents took them home. The kitchen hosted dances almost every weekend.  Local musicians provided favorite tunes, from waltzes to quadrilles.  At midnight, guests enjoyed sandwiches, salads, cake, and coffee.

Horse and buggy provided house-to-house commerce, with the butcher, shoe-maker, and bakery carts making the rounds regularly.  Twice a year, the traveling peddler arrived with a large assortment of wares, and every fall a neighboring farmer brought a much-anticipated wagonload of Gravenstein apples.

In 1914, the Wenger Mill closed, leaving behind a soon-to-be abandoned community.

Sources: Hughes, Ralph L. Tales of Del Norte County. Crescent City, Calif., Del Norte Historical Society, 1997, pp. 80-82

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.