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As It Was: Crescent City Struggles to Build and Keep Its Docks

In 1852, Crescent City got permission from the State of California to build a dock for supply ships, but the Northern California harbor village didn’t get a dock until 1860 when an impatient businessman built it himself.  It promptly washed away in the first major storm.

Later, a lumber mill constructed a loading dock, but when the mill closed in 1839, the dock was lost to neglect.  Left without a dock, Crescent City struggled to exist.

City officials appealed in vain to the federal government for help, so in 1949, a Citizen’s Dock Committee formed to build a marina with volunteers and donations.  Timber cutters, rock blasters, and pipe-layers used donated materials, completing the construction in the spring of 1950. 

The celebrations had barely died down before shipworms moved in and turned the pilings to empty shells.  Dock volunteers had forgotten to soak the pilings in creosote, so they had to be replaced.

A tsunami destroyed the dock in 1964.  It was rebuilt and destroyed again by another tsunami in 2011. Three years and $34 million later, the massive new dock was engineered to survive the next big harbor wave.

Sources: "History." Crescent City Harbor District, Crescent City Harbor District, www.ccharbor.com/history. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019; Chase, Doris. They Pushed Back the Forest. Crescent City CA, Del Norte County Historical Society, 1959, pp. 68-73.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.