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As It Was: Hollywood Shoots Pictures in Del Norte County, Calif.

In spring of 1936, the Reliance Production Corp. chose two locations in Del Norte County, Calif., as settings for the film “The Last of the Mohicans,” based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper.

The company made its headquarters at the Hotel Lauff, now known as the Surf Apartments.  By late April, the cast and equipment had arrived, including costumes and canoes from Hollywood.  The filming was scheduled to begin on May 1, weather permitting, at Lake Earl and the Smith River.

Some 50 people participated in the shooting, with extras from the communities of Klamath, Smith River, and Crescent City.  Several prominent Hollywood stars played the characters of Cooper’s story, including Randolph Scott, Bruce Cabot, Binnie Barnes, Heather Angel and Henry Wilcoxson.  However, they did not come to Del Norte.

In the decades since, the area’s scenic landscapes have appeared in dozens of videos, commercials, and several major motion pictures.

In 2017, the theme of the Crescent City Fourth of July Parade was “Honoring Movies filmed in Del Norte County.” The most notable blockbuster hits were “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” and “E.T: The Extra Terrestrial.”

Sources: Ruffe ll, Marcia. Smith River National Recreation Area - Gasquet Ranger District History. Part 2- The 1920's ed., 1995, pp. 172-73, ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/defaults/8049g662k. Accessed 28 Nov. 2018

"On Location in Del Norte." Del Norte Triplicate, 22 June 2017, www.triplicate.com/news/5396705-151/on-location-in-del-norte. Accessed 28 Nov. 2018.8.

"Filmography - Del Norte County." Humboldt Del Norte Film Commission, delnorte.filmhumboldtdelnorte.org/filmography. Accessed 28 Nov. 2018.

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.