Eel River Fisheries Articles and Excerpts 1854-1890
Compiled by Susie Van Kirk, 1996
Arcata Union (AU) Arcata, 1886-1995
HT (23 Sept. 1854) Salmon Fishing--Several companies are forming to catch and put up salmon on Weeott River this fall for shipment to San Francisco and other ports. The Weeott Fishery alone expect to do a large business at it. The Salmon have commenced running and shortly they will come in quantities sufficient to give employment to hundreds of men. The resources of our county are not yet developed; we look forward to the day when Humboldt Bay will furnish the markets of the South Pacific with their fish.
HT (23 Sept. 1854) ...Eel River is called by the Indians, Weeott --plenty--from the immense quantities of Salmon obtained by them every fall in that stream...
HT (4 Aug. 1855) Fresh salmon, caught in Weeott River, were brought to town yesterday. They have commenced running up that stream in immense quantities. They commenced running up the Klamath in May. Why is it that there should be such difference in two rivers only about fifty miles apart?
HT (25 April 1857) Salmon Fishery--We neglected to notice in our last issue the Salmon Fishery of Mr. John Mosely at the mouth of Eel River. He has on hand a large amount of smoked salmon which are decidedly fine.
HT (19 Dec. 1857) Salmon Fisheries--Mr. Peter Smith is contributing articles to the California Farmer on the salmon fisheries of this coast. In one of these articles he says:
The net spoken of in my last, on Eel River, has actually taken from October 18th to Nov. 5 (in all eighteen days) 16,000 salmon filling 880 barrels of 200 pounds each and the balance of three fisheries on the river have had a fair share of success.
The principal fishery on Eel River referred to is on the Island near the mouth and is owned by the Messrs. Dungan. We have frequently noticed the shipment of salmon taken from these fisheries. They are destined to be of considerable importance in this portion of the State.
HT (3 April 1858) [From the Price Current and Shipping List of San Francisco]--The Salmon fisheries of Eel River in the northern part of the state are of much importance, both in regard to home consumption and export. The present proprietors have been in possession of those fisheries for some four or five years and have been amply remunerated for their enterprise. Salmon put up at those fisheries by Jesse H. Dungan and others have been shipped to Australia, China, Sandwich Islands and New York and landed in fine order, meeting with ready sale at good prices. The proprietors, we understand, are making arrangements to extend their packing establishments and increase their business. The fish taken at the locality named are thought to be superior to any other being taken from salt or tide water and being more susceptible to preservation. The proprietors own the ground occupied and have large facilities...The quantity of salmon caught and packed last season...on Eel River, 1,200 barrels; on the Sacramento, 1,200 barrels; on the Columbia, 500 barrels; at Vancouver Island, 400 barrels; making a total of 3,300 barrels, averaging about 100 pounds weight each.
HT (10 April 1858) Exports of Humboldt Bay--...Lumber is our principal article for export, but there are others which it would pay better to ship abroad than to send to San Francisco. It appears by statistics published by us last week that over 1,200 barrels of salmon were put up at the fisheries in this county last year--being half the amount put up in the State. These were sent to San Francisco and part of them thence to Australia, where it is said they brought a fine price. If it will pay dealers in San Francisco to buy them and send them to foreign markets, it will certainly pay those who put them up. The salmon caught here are also said to be a superior article and will bear shipment better than those taken from other waters on this coast. This branch of business might be increased...
HT (11 Sept. 1858) Salmon Fisheries--During the month of April last, we copied an article from the San Francisco Price Current, touching the quantity and quality of the Salmon put up in this county and denoting the advanced prices of fish taken from Eel River, as compared with those taken from the Sacramento and other streams, where the business is carried on extensively...
The ship William, now discharging at our wharf, has landed 100 bbls of salt, intended for the packing establishment of Messrs. Plummer & Martin on Eel River, who have been for several months past making preparations for taking and packing salmon when the season commences which will be some time next month. In addition to the above named new firm, the Messrs. Dungan have extended the facilities of their packing establishment somewhat, and other parties who have engaged in the business in a small way for some years past are preparing to enter into it this season with a view of permanency and profit.
The facilities for packing salmon on Eel River are but little superior to those of Mad River. There is perhaps no difference in the fish, as the two streams empty into the ocean within about twenty-five miles of each other. Eel River has the advantage of being the larger of the two streams, but Mad River has the advantage in point of transportation, as salmon put up at the mouth of that stream may be passed through the canal into the head of the Bay, thence to the wharf at Eureka where those packed at the fisheries on Eel River must be transported by land to Myers' Landing. The distance is short but the expense of hauling and handling the large quantities which will be put up there this season must be considerable. We hope, therefore, that the business may be engaged in on Mad River with the same spirit as on Eel River and we cannot but think that the enterprise must prove successful to those who have the courage to embark in it...
The statistics of the Custom House in San Francisco for 1857 are highly gratifying to the packers on Eel River...the fish put up there are worth from $1.50 to $2.00 per bbl more than those taken from the Sacramento River...
HT (9 Oct. 1858) J.D. Myers of Myers' Landing brought up a boatload of fine salmon one day this week, being the first in market this season.
HT (6 Nov. 1858) Salmon--We noticed a lot of pickled salmon on board the George Emery, one day this week to be shipped to San Francisco. This is the first shipment of salmon this season from the Eel river fisheries though it will be followed by much larger shipments soon.
HT (13 Nov. 1858) Salmon Fisheries--The fish packing establishments on Eel River, have not done so well this season as in the corresponding period of last year, owing, perhaps, to early rains. We are informed, however, by Mr. Martin, that they have all got enough of fish to save themselves, and if the rainy season holds off for a few weeks they will have taken all they are prepared to pack.
Next week we intend to visit the fisheries on Eel River, so as to be able to give our readers a better idea of the importance they bear in the natural resources of our county.
HT (27 Nov. 1858) Closed--The Salmon fisheries on Eel River suspended operations for this season at the commencement of the recent rains. Fish were not very abundant this year. Only about two thousand barrels were packed by the fishermen on that stream this season...
HT (2 July 1859) New Boats--We notice a number of new boats in course of construction, to be used at the salmon fisheries, on Eel River, the coming season.
HT (20 Aug. 1859) Salmon Fishing--Extensive arrangements are being made for salmon fishing on Eel River this coming fall. Several new companies are prepared to engage in the business.
HT (2 Oct. 1859) Salmon--Some few salmon have been taken in Eel River by the Indians with gill-nets but they have not yet made their appearance in sufficient quantities to attract the attention of the fishermen. Next week it is thought they will be abundant.
HT (8 Oct. 1859) Salmon--We acknowledge the receipt of a fine fresh salmon caught by Wm. Ellery at his Eel River fishery--the first fish of the season. Our friend, Myers of Table Bluff, can testify to its excellence.
HT (15 Oct. 1859) Eel River Fisheries--We are indebted to some of our friends at the fisheries for a fine salmon but don't know which one. The fisheries are in full blast there now.
HT (22 Oct. 1859) A gentleman belonging to one of the fishing companies at the mouth of Eel River informed us that his company had taken a hundred and fifty barrels of salmon up to the same day of this month at which they commenced hauling last year. They are all at work with a vigor at this time and we are pleased to learn that the prospects indicate a good fishing season.
HT (29 Oct. 1859) Eel River Salmon Fisheries--On Friday last we left in company with our friend J.T. Ewing to visit the Salmon fisheries on Eel River, a trip we had been contemplating for sometime.
...Saturday morning soon after the disposition of our early breakfast we continued our journey for the "Fisheries." About ten o'clock A.M. we arrived at the house of J.H. Dungan. Here our mission began. Mr. Dungan, of the firm of Dungan and Denman, received us with reputable kindness, conducting us through a very commodious building which he had recently erected and which is to be used exclusively for purposes connected with the fisheries. He gave us a very satisfactory account of the process by which the salmon are taken, split, gilled, packed and prepared for the market, an operation which we afterwards had the pleasure of seeing, practically illustrated. This company is located about four miles from the mouth of the river and is the oldest company engaged in the business, having commenced in a limited way as early as 1853. They had taken at the time of our visit 140 barrels, intending before the expiration of the season to swell the number to at least one thousand.
At this point we procured a small boat and started down the river, after a few strokes of the oar, vigorously applied by our companion, we reached the ground of Mr. Thos. Worth, who informed us that he had taken one hundred and fifteen barrels and was prepared with the necessary conveniences for putting up something near six hundred.
Finding little else to induce our delay, we again embarked and after making a short bend in the river, found ourselves upon the ground of Gilman & Skinner. These gentlemen seemed to have been more fortunate than the two former, having secured of the finny family something near two hundred and twenty-five barrels. They have made their calculations to put up a thousand or more, if the season continues favorable.
John Mosely came next. We visited his coopering establishment and packing house, found that he had about two hundred barrels already packed and was prepared to put up at least six hundred more.
After a few moments chat with John and a good dinner, we crossed the river to the ground of Wm. Ellery & Bros. This company have done well, but in consequence of the absence of Ellery the elder, we were prevented from obtaining such information as we desired. We, however, took the liberty of examining their barrels, vats, and fish and found ample preparations for a large business.
From this company we next reached Parcels & Nickerson who have succeeded in taking about eighty barrels. Their intention is to put up six hundred. They had been engaged and were at the time of our arrival in removing the snags and other obstructions from a new fishing ground to be used in the season.
Here we came in full view of the ocean and the entrance to Eel River and as we floated down to the grounds occupied by Dickerman & Miller, our eyes were greeted by the appearance of thousands of huge salmon leaping out of the water, as if suspecting the silent element through which they were so rapidly passing to captivity and death.
Dickerman & Miller had taken one hundred and forty barrels and intend packing about four hundred in addition to a large quantity which they are prepared to smoke, making it necessary perhaps to take as many fish as any other company on the river.
The next and last place visited by us on this occasion was that of Martin & Plummer. They are the proprietors of the most extensive fishery established, excepting Dungan and Denman, on the river. They have three fishing grounds, one within a few hundred yards of the mouth of the river, another but a short distance further up and a third some five or six miles distant, near Mr. Knight's farm; they are prepared to run them all, whenever the season will justify the increase of expense and labor requisite. The company have taken three hundred barrels and say they must have a total of thirteen hundred before they reel a seine for the season.
The seines used by the several companies average from 60 to 80 fathoms in length and from twenty to twenty-seven feet in width. They are manufactured out of a number 6 twine and drawn, when sweeping by, from 10 to 14 men, the usual number employed by each company. The barrels for packing the salmon when taken are made on the ground, each company doing its own coopering, furnishing its own lumber and such other necessary material as is required to prosecute the business with profit and success.
The seven companies fishing there employ about one hundred men and in the way of supplies, lumber, transportation, etc., many others are furnished employment. It is estimated that not less than six thousand barrels of salmon will be packed there this season which will put in circulation in this county within the next year not less than sixty thousand dollars...
HT (12 Nov. 1859) Business at the Salmon Fisheries has been suspended in consequence of the rise in the river. The fish go up stream as soon as there is sufficient water to allow them to pass the bars and riffles in the stream. Should there be no more rain for a short time the water would doubtless fall so as to give the fishermen another chance at the "finny tribe." As it is, they have not taken half the quantity they were prepared to put up this season, and it would prove a serious injury to have the business now close. We trust they may yet be favored with many more hauls, and good ones. Their enterprise deserves good luck and considerable of it.
HT (3 Dec. 1859) Salmon--The sloops on the Bay are now busy in bringing salmon from the fisheries to this place from whence it is shipped to San Francisco.
HT (6 Oct. 1860) Salmon Season--The time for salmon catching is earlier this year than usual and from the indications, it is thought there will be a bountiful supply the present season. Preparations have been made upon an extensive scale by several companies on Eel River and something will be done in that line on Mad River. On Eel River we understand the following companies are engaged with strong force in securing the first run: Martin & Plummer, Ellery Bros., Parcells & Nickerson, ...Miller, John Mosely, Gilman, Skinner & Co. and J.H. Dungan & Co.
A large amount of capital has been invested in this branch of industry and the enterprising gentlemen engaged in the business are certainly deserving of success.
HT (10 Nov. 1860) Eel River Fishery--We gather from Mr. Dungan who has the oldest fishery on the river, the following items:
The salmon commenced to come in the river earlier this season than usual, but there was no great run prior to the first of this month. They were caught steadily but not by any large hauls up to that time, amounting in the aggregate, at the various fisheries, to about eleven hundred barrels.
About the first there was a large run--being the main one of the season--but the river rose at the same time and the salmon all passed up stream and were lost to the fishermen. Within the last few days since the river fell, they have caught a few but the best of the season is considered over. This makes the second season in succession that they have lost the principal run of salmon in consequence of the river rising.
The fish this season are considered superior in flavor to any heretofore caught on this stream. The Eel River salmon generally command a better price in the San Francisco market than those caught in the Sacramento.
HT (19 Oct. 1861) Salmon Fisheries--This branch of business was commenced on Eel river by four companies about two weeks ago. Messrs. J.H. Dungan & Co. have put up about two hundred barrels, and we understand the other companies are also doing well. The price at which salmon is quoted does not promise great returns, but we are glad to see that the business is not entirely abandoned, though there will be a falling off of seventy-five per cent from previous years.
HT (9 Nov. 1861) Large Haul--Messrs. J.H. Dungan & Co., made a haul at their fishery on Eel river, Thursday, with a seine, bringing to hand 2,600 salmon--equal to one hundred and forty barrels. For a single haul this beats anything heard of in this part of the world.
HT (18 Jan. 1862) Gentlemen from Eel River say that on last Saturday evening that stream was eighteen inches higher than at any other time the present winter and one foot higher than ever before known. Considerable damage was done on the lower part of the river. Dungan & Co.'s loss will exceed a thousand dollars. John Mosely lost 130 barrels of salmon worth $6 a barrel, also fish houses, smoke house, and several tons of potatoes. Other fisheries were more or less damaged, as were several farms on the Island.
HT (1 Nov. 1862) Salmon Fishing--The Salmon fishing on Eel River will not be very extensive this season, owing to the decline in prices. Dungan and Ellery are the only two who are doing anything this season. They will take only enough fish to dispose of what salt and material left from last year...
HT (6 Dec. 1862) Salmon--We acknowledge the receipt of two smoked salmon, from Wm. Ellery of Eel River.
HT (31 Oct. 1863) The fishermen on Eel River are doing a good business taking salmon at present.
HT (17 Nov. 1866) Salmon--Mr. Wm. Ellery will please accept our thanks for the present of a huge fresh salmon from his fishery on Eel River.
HT (28 Sept. 1867) Salmon--This delicious fish has made its appearance in the waters of our bay and in the rivers adjacent. We acknowledge the receipt of a thirty pounder from Mr. William Ellery of Table Bluff. It was caught at the fishery of that gentleman on Eel River.
HT (10 April 1869) Eel River Salmon Trade--We clip the following from the Nyack & Piedmont City & County, published in Rockland county, New York:
Delicious--A friend presented us the other day with a can of preserved fresh salmon, being one of a few cases sent him from California. We were very much surprised, upon opening it, to find its contents as fresh and sweet as if just caught from its native element. The salmon from the rivers of California are considered the best in the world, and we found this the most delicious of any we had ever eaten. These fine fish are prepared and canned by Messrs. J.B. Requa & Co., of Eel River, California. A small lot only has been sent to this part of the United States, to test the quality of them after coming so great a distance. These having stood the test, it will not be long before an agency will be established by this enterprising firm in New York or elsewhere, where this fine commodity can be obtained by everybody. When this is done, the California salmon trade as carried on by Messrs. Requa & Co., will no doubt become an extensive and profitable business.
We understand that Mr. Requa has disposed of his interest in the business referred to in the above extract to Mr. J.H. Dungan, one of the firm of J.B. Requa & Co., by whom the same will be carried on in [the] future.
HT (24 July 1869) Eel River Indians and the Fisheries--Editor Times: I have thought it proper to prepare a statement for publication relative to the Indians on Eel river and other matters of no little importance to that portion of the county. The tribe of Indians living at and adjacent to the mouth of the river is nearly extinct. Only a small number of what was once a numerous tribe now remain.
Before the settlement of the country by whites the river yielded them ample sustenance with very little labor. But the settlement of the country changed this...undoubtedly happy state. Fish used to be abundant, but the establishment of fisheries by the whites has made them less plentiful. The cultivation of the soil has deprived them of an abundance of nourishing roots and herbs to which in seasons of scarcity they had recourse. Nothing now remained for the unhappy children of the soil but to labor for their subsistence. A few did this willingly. Some preferred a lazy, roaming life; a few committed depredations on the whites, and then followed the catalogue of killings, massacres and other disgraceful episodes in the early history of Humboldt county.
Although these Indians, as a tribe, never were at war with the whites, still, some of our citizens, fearing that there might be communication between them and the mountain Indians, asked Government to remove them, which was done. Now as to the communication existing between them and the mountain Indians, there is not and never was a shadow of evidence. But they were gathered up, to the number of about two hundred and taken to the Klamath Reservation, from there to Smith river, and then to Round Valley, where they enjoyed the fare and treatment peculiar to California Reservations. Finally the few that yet lived returned to their old homes, as they stated by permission of the officers, there being nothing on the Reservation to subsist them. Of the two hundred originally taken to the Reservation about forty remain. Of this number there are less than ten children under fifteen years of age, so that when the adults die the race will be nearly extinct.
These Indians are anxious to spend the balance of their days in their old home, having lived at perfect peace with their white neighbors for a number of years. They are willing to work and entirely capable of maintaining themselves, and thereby relieve the Government of that expense. They are to a great extent civilized, trade at our stores, and receive credit as readily as other customers. Some of them have acquired considerable property; they take contracts to labor and faithfully perform them. If any member of the tribe were to commit a crime the authorities would have no more trouble in bringing him to justice than in the case of a white citizen.
Some time since, these Indians, believing they would not be removed to the Reservation again, negotiated with one of our citizens for eighty acres of land on what is known as Cock Robin Island, near the mouth of Eel river, upon which they had commenced to settle, with a view to making it a permanent home, where they could raise vegetables, pigs, chickens, etc., when they were not employed on the farms or at the fisheries. But the authorities have seen fit to remove them to the Reservation, there to be maintained at Government expense.
Speaking of the fisheries, I will here say that the salmon fisheries of Eel river are an important branch of commerce, and they cannot be carried on without the assistance of Indians. The river bed is generally full of snags, which must be removed before seines can be hauled, and none but an Indian can go down in from three to six fathoms of water and attach the necessary rigging for hoisting them out.
President Grant intimated in his inaugural that the Reservations are to be so conducted as to bring the Indian up to a higher order of civilization. While I am constrained to believe that the Eel river Indians will not be benefitted by further Reservation experience, I am certain they can be used to great advantage in the branch of trade above referred to, and at the same time be self-sustaining. Outsider.
HT (2 Oct. 1869) Salmon--The first load of the season arrived in town on Thursday. The Eel River fisheries have commenced operation and it is estimated that a larger business than usual will be done in this article of export the present year.
HT (22 Oct. 1870) Salmon Fishing--Salmon have commenced running in Eel and Mad rivers and are being taken in considerable quantities by the parties engaged in fishing. We understand that Mr. J.H. Dungan will put up a large quantity in cans this year, as he did last.
HT (5 Nov. 1870) Eel River Salmon--W.J. Sweasey & Son have just received a lot of Eel River salmon in barrels and half barrels and now have the same on sale...
HT (12 Oct. 1872) Salmon--That delicious fish is now abundant in Eel River and the fisheries on that stream are commencing their season's work. Messrs. Fullmore & Broderick have already made some successful hauls.
HT (1 Nov. 1873) The Salmon Catch--Up to Tuesday of this week, the catch of salmon at the fishery of Jesse Dungan on Eel River had yielded but about three hundred barrels. The first taken was on the Monday week previous. At the date last year corresponding with that just named, at the commencement of the run this year, more than three hundred barrels of fish had been secured. On Tuesday, thirty-five barrels were taken and it is probable this will continue during the run unless there should come rains to raise the water in the river sufficiently to allow the fish to pass up.
HT (15 Nov. 1873) Our Fisheries--We are informed that all the parties engaged in putting up salmon on Eel River have done very well. Unfortunately they were not prepared to put up a very large amount; most of them have run short of barrels and salt. In connection with this enterprise we would suggest to them and other citizens of the county to make the effort to get from the Fish Commissioner young shad, black bass and white fish, and place them in Eel River. We think it one of the finest streams on the coast to stock with fish, as it is not probable it will be dammed up so as to prevent the fish going up; and its great length, with its numerous branches, and its clear water affording proper temperature, makes it every way desirable for the cultivation of fish.
HT (22 Nov. 1873) Notes from the Country--...I visited the salmon fisheries on Saturday and found the fishermen in jolly spirits over their good luck. I took a canoe and pulled down the river a half mile and saw them draw their seine. They filled their boats at one haul. Mr. Broderick said there were forty barrels. All the large vats in the warehouse were full. I also saw a large canoe full. All their barrels were full and they were making more vats...
WHT (15 Aug. 1874) Salmon Fishing--In 1859 the Legislature of this State passed "An Act to Regulate Salmon Fishing on Eel River in Humboldt County." That Act made it lawful to catch or take salmon from that river at anytime between the fifteenth day of September and the twenty-fifth day of November of each year, in any manner and by any means not prohibited by the laws of the State...
WHT (3 Oct. 1874) Large Fish Net--The largest fish net brought to this county arrived on the Coquille yesterday, consigned to Connor & Mosely. The net was manufactured in Boston, made entirely by hand, at a cost of about seven hundred dollars and with the expressage, it costing one hundred and ninety-eight dollars to express it to San Francisco, will reach the sum of nine hundred dollars. It is designed for the catching of salmon in Eel River.
WHT (7 Nov. 1874) A Fine Catch--We understand that the run of salmon in Eel River now is very large and that all the parties engaged in the fisheries are having a lively catch. Some have already caught sufficient to fill all their barrels, while all the others will have all they can put up. We understand the best day's catch for the season at any one of the fisheries has been one hundred barrels.
WHT (7 Nov. 1874) Good Day for Fishing--From what we can learn, Tuesday last was a pretty good day for fishing on Eel River. Four seines were drawn at one time and within a distance of three hundred and fifty or four hundred feet, from which enough salmon were secured to fill two hundred barrels. One hundred and fifteen barrels were secured by one company on that day. Eel River is represented as being literally alive with fish.
WHT (14 Nov. 1874) But Little Affected--We learn from gentlemen from both Eel River and Mad River that the recent rain storm affected those streams but little. The water in Mad River raised between twelve and fifteen inches, not sufficient to start any of the logs lying in the bed of the stream. Neither did the water in Eel River raise enough to interfere with the salmon fishing.
WHT (14 Nov. 1874) The Best Six Days Work--Mr. J.H. Dungan has been doing a land office business in catching salmon lately and it is claimed that his six days' catch last week was the best six days work in that line ever done in Eel River with one crew and one seine. In that time and with the force named, he secured four hundred and seventy-five barrels of salmon or a little over seventy-nine barrels per day. The crew which can beat this has the floor. Let's hear from you.
WHT (28 Nov. 1874) Salmon Shipments--We understand that the salmon fishers are beginning to ship their catch. Already over five hundred barrels are at Heney's warehouse, Southport, and more constantly coming.
WHT (28 Aug. 1875) Salmon--Salmon fishing has for years been one of our most promising industries. Eel River and Mad River have both furnished large quantities of fish. At present there are no fisheries on Mad River; on Eel River there are three: J.H. Dungan, John Mosely, and Fulmor & Broderick. J.H. Dungan's brand has become known and is celebrated wherever known. Mr. Dungan has taken more pains to find out how they should be put up and attends closer to the work itself than others have up to this time. Another item is barrels. They should be perfectly seasoned before being put into use. Barrels put up out of green timber injure the Salmon. They rust quicker and will not stand warm countries neither will they hold brine when put together green. The catch last fall was about 3,000 barrels. The shipments to San Francisco were as follows:
Half Barrels of Salmon
1874 Aug. 29
1875 Jan. 716
The expenses for shipment from Humboldt bay are as follows:
4,087 barrels at $1 each $4,087.00
180 tons salt at 10 cents 1,800.00
Frt. at 35 cents per half barrel 1,430.45
5 per cent commission 817,40
extra labor in San Francisco 100.00
Total Expense 6,234.85
The price last year was about $4 per barrel. 4,087 x 4 = $16,348, and the expense is 38 per cent, and a great deal more before it is ready for shipment. Still at this price Salmon pays very well indeed. During the past year Salmon were low in price, we hope, however, to do better this season.
WHT (6 Jan. 1877) Salmon--We understand that there are quantities of salmon still remaining in Eel River, and that large numbers are being caught.
WHT (9 June 1877) Rohnerville, June 4, 1877, Editor Times--...Indians, said to be from Hoopa, are fishing in Van Duzen, not far from the bridge. They are successful and the salmon trout they catch are a splendid fish, fat and in fine condition.
WHT (11 Aug. 1877) Rohnerville, August 6, 1877, Editor Times--...More than one hundred large sturgeon have been killed in one deep place in Eel River, near the mouth of Van Duzen, in the last month...
WHT (22 Sept. 1877) A New Industry--Mr. F. Pardini arrived on the Pelican yesterday. He has bought a piece of land near Dungan's Ferry, where he intends at once to erect the proper buildings, and provide facilities for canning salmon and other kinds of fish, as well as fowls, and such vegetables as grow in abundance in that vicinity. This is a very important addition to the business of the county, as the goods can be very easily carried to Port Kenyon, whence they can be shipped direct to San Francisco. It is seldom that raw material, facilities for manufacturing, and opportunities for shipment can all be found at the same point, but such is the case at the place where the proposed works are to be erected.--Star.
WHT (20 Oct. 1877) Notes from Ferndale--...A man was here with a sturgeon for sale the other day. It was seven feet long, weighed over one hundred pounds, and was speared at the Blue Slide on Eel River...
WHT (27 Oct. 1877) Salmon Fisheries on Eel River--A branch of our commercial exports not heretofore generally understood and which has contributed largely to the wealth of Humboldt county is the salmon fisheries of Eel River. The principal parties engaged in this work are Jesse Dungan, Mosely, Swett & Adams, and Fulmor and this year, the new and successful firm of Albertson & Broderick. Last year the three first mentioned firms caught, packed and exported over one thousand barrels of salmon each and received on an average $7 per barrel, the lowest market price which this product has commanded, the income being in the neighborhood of $15,000 and all this produced in less than two months, October and November.
Three weeks ago the San Francisco Cutting Packing Company located at the old town of Ramseyville on a point of the Island just below where the old river intersects the present channel. The agents of the company came there strangers to everyone--landing on Saturday and commenced clearing the brush and the erection of a large two-story cook house on the following Monday. The first lumber was obtained at the new mill of C.C. Dennis at Port Kenyon, but he was unable to supply the demand and the main portion of the lumber was furnished by the Springville
Mill Company, the shingles were obtained from parties on Eel River above Ferndale...The aggregate amount paid by the Company for materials for the construction of the cannery cannot be less than $5,000 and to mechanics and other laborers at least $2,000--all paid in gold coin. The principal buildings are the steaming room, 30x60 feet, one story, containing the furnaces with six large boilers. At the east end is a two-story storage house, 40x60 feet, and at the west end a one-story building, extending from the steaming room on the south to the river on the north. This is 20x60 feet. Here the salmon are landed from the fishing boats and are carried on a car to the cutting room, where they are washed and cut up preparatory to steaming and canning--which process commenced yesterday. The present facilities of the Company are such as to require about one thousand fish per day.
The fish are furnished by the four firms before mentioned at
1 1\2 cents per pound, gross weight. The fishermen say that will be better than packing as the pay will be cash, furnishing the ready means with which to defray expenses and saving the enormous cost of salt and barrels besides the extra labor of washing, cutting, and packing. In conclusion we will state that the Canning Company are now constructing a wharf sixty feet long, extending ten feet into the river, where the water at low tide is never less than twelve feet deep. This enterprise will stimulate more fishing another year, as the territory extends some four miles above the mouth of the river, not more than one quarter of which is now occupied. It is but the starting, the inaugurating of an enterprise that will bring handsome returns to the parties interested and it has always been a mystery to us why some of our people did not engage in the business. It is not unlike many other things; outside capital is brought into the county and the profits received from the venture are placed in circulation elsewhere.
WHT (3 Nov. 1877) Notes of Travel--...The Salmon Cannery at Ramseyville is in full operation--putting up from ten to twelve thousand one-pound cans daily. The supply of fish is now equal to the demands of that institution. They have just completed a wharf two hundred feet long for shipping purposes...The fishermen on the river all report the business as barely paying expenses on account of the small numbers of fish in the river up to this time, but they are hoping for a better run soon...
WHT (10 Nov. 1877) Salmon--We understand that the catch of salmon during the last three days on Eel River has been good, exceeding that of any former like period of the season and that those engaged are making the best of the good runs.
WHT (10 Nov. 1877) Fine Catch--We learn that the fisheries on Eel River are taking salmon in immense quantities--more and faster than can be taken care of.
DHT (18 Nov. 1877) Reference to the "Indian fish dam" near Springville.
FE (4 May 1878) A Trip North--We call special attention to the following communication of William Horace Wright, descriptive of this rich country and its beautiful prosperous towns...
Through this valley runs the Eel River...The fisheries of this well watered district are also of great importance, and the rivers, so distinguished in Indian days for the delicate lampreys and the vast numbers of salmon which, so they say, used to impede travelling over the fords, yield abundantly to the salmon packers and canners. Seventy-five barrels have been taken at a single haul, but the salmon season is short, beginning in the early fall. With the first freshets, the fish go up stream and the season is closed. About 1,500 barrels have been caught this season, in addition to the large amount canned at the canneries, at which, unfortunately, and as a remarkable exception in this county, Chinamen are principally employed...
FE (4 May 1878) Eel River Island--This island is between Eel and Salt rivers and is one of the most productive islands on the globe. It is about ten miles in length, averaging a mile and a half in width...There are quite a number of salmon fishermen ...and near Ramseyville a large cannery for the purpose of canning salmon...
DHT (16 Aug. 1878) Coming Back--In conversation with a gentleman from Eel River yesterday, he informed us that Messrs. Cutting & Co. are going to open their cannery on Eel River again this fall and are contemplating canning green peas etc., as well as salmon.
WHT (24 Aug. 1878) Was It the Same--A gentleman in this city yesterday from Garberville says that some parties happening on the South Fork of Eel River a few days since discovered a large object struggling to pass a riffle in that stream, at the upper and lower end of which was deep water. Thinking that perhaps it might be a mammoth salmon trying to thrash its way over the rocks and that it might be easily captured, they went to the place, when instead of salmon they found it to be a huge sturgeon floundering in the shallow water. The monster was almost as plainly visible as it would have been had it lain upon the gravel at their feet. They stood watching its movements as it gradually worked its way to the deep water below, and discovered as they did so, three or four bullet holes through its body not far from the head. Finally it reached the deep water and disappeared. On reaching Garberville the incident was related by the travelers, when some one in hearing said he had seen the same sturgeon, and that it was the veritable "monster" which Schumacher encountered some time since and fought off with his rifle.
DHT (22 Sept. 1878) The Cannery--The Cannery at the mouth of Eel River is employing a large force getting ready for the fishing season now near at hand. Mr. Wetherly, the Superintendent, has three additional boilers set, making seven in all and has also a twenty-four foot extension built to the soldering room. It is the intention to put up this year ten thousand cases of salmon and the requisite preparations therefor are already about completed.
DHT (25 Sept. 1878) Beginning to Make their Appearance--We learn that salmon are beginning to make their appearance in Eel River near the entrance...
DHT (3 Nov. 1878) Fish--From six to seven tons of fresh salmon were shipped to San Francisco by the steamer yesterday, the greater quantity consigned to Pardini & Co. The most of them were caught in Eel River, where, it is stated, they are now being caught in large quantities.
WHT (16 Nov. 1878) We learn that on Monday last thirty-two tons of salmon were caught at the fisheries on Eel River and on the following day four thousand six hundred fish were captured with one seine. There are lively times at the cannery.
WHT (16 Nov. 1878) Great Success--We learn through persons from the lower part of Eel River that the Cannery at Ramseyville is having great success this season. It employs about one hundred men, and between five and six hundred cases of salmon are being put up daily. It is believed now that the company will put up full twenty thousand cases this season. The present market value of this we believe is about one hundred thousand dollars.
FE (22 Nov. 1878) The Eel River Canning Co. are sinking piles and building a wharf for the protection of their property during high water. Last winter the water carried away a great portion of the bank which formed the foundation of the cannery. The wharf will be over one hundred yards long, the piles sunk eight feet and heavy boards covering them.
DHT (7 Jan. 1879) The Eel River Cutting Packing and Canning Company put up about 11,000 cases of fish this season against 3,500 cases in 1877. The wholesale price is $6 per case. Aggregate value $66,000. Pardini and Terreli put up about 2,600 half barrels worth $5.50 each at wholesale, other parties about 1,000 half barrels, aggregating nearly $20,000 total; $86,000 without reference to the local trade and shipments per steamer to San Francisco, which will easily swell the earnings of our fisheries this year to more than $100,000. Messrs. Swett & Adams did not cure any fish this year, having sold their catch to the Cannery. These latter named gentlemen and others near the Eel River Cannery complain bitterly of the way fish, which at present are hiding in the deep pools in the river above them waiting for a rise to enable them to reach the spawning beds, are slaughtered. They claim that the fishing season is over and that if the salmon are taken in their present condition, Eel River will soon be exhausted.--Signal.
DHT (26 Jan. 1879) The following is the conclusion of Mr. Hawley's letter to the Bulletin of the 17th instant:
Fisheries--...The Cutting Canning & Packing Company have an extensive cannery on Eel River. Last year they shipped about 3,000 cases of 4-dozen, 2-lb. cans each [probably one pound cans]. This year their shipments will largely exceed this amount. Swett & Adams, in the same locality, salt and dry large quantities of salmon. In 1876 they shipped 1,800 barrels, the price averaging $8 per barrel. Messrs. Dungan & Wells and the Fulmor Bros. also salt and dry large quantities. These gentlemen, however, are but pioneers in this branch of industry, which will, in time, assume much large proportions.
DHT (11 Sept. 1879) Fly Fishing--Did you ever sport or go a fishing? If you did not, you should hire a mustang and go to Eel River and fish for salmon trout. More fun and sport and as exciting as catching pickerel. We were down to the river yesterday with a party for the purpose of catching trout. We unhitched our team at Mr. Robertson's and were granted permission by that gentleman to fish from his grounds. The salmon trout at this season will not bite very well at bait, but will jump their length out of water as soon as a fly touches the water. We were prepared with fly hooks--the red fly proving to be the best--and all the necessary paraphernalia, stout lines, reels, etc. We were fishing not more than an hour and succeeded in landing about thirty as fine beauties as one could wish to see, many of them a foot in length. As soon as the fly could be set and thrown into the water, a greedy trout would grab it and then the excitement commenced. First one way and then the other, the trout would struggle for liberty, but of no avail. He would tire himself out and then it was an easy matter to land him. This style of trout fishing is very interesting and exciting as the trout is a gamy fish. It is rare sport.
WHT (25 Oct. 1879) Rohnerville Items--Messrs. Ferrier and Barber made a single haul of sixty fine salmon averaging 25 pounds each, last Sunday afternoon. This is the finest and largest haul of the season so far. Fishermen seem to think that salmon will be plenty and in good condition in a few days.
WHT (8 Nov. 1879) Rohnerville Items--...Fishermen are sweeping the river with seines from its mouth to the Van Duzen. It looks to us as though salmon would be scarce, if not entirely extinct, in Eel River in a few years, with the present way of fishing...
DHT (18 Nov. 1879) Fishing on Eel River--The salmon fishing on Eel River for this season has about ended and the catch has been a remarkable good one, taking into consideration the short run. Adams & Swett have put up thirteen hundred half barrels this season, Dunlap & Marcus have put up five hundred and fifty, Denman & Johnson four hundred, Sam Fulmor and McAtee have made a good catch, but we did not learn the amount they put up. The cannery of Cutting & Co. was not in operation this year, but large quantities of salmon, fresh, have been shipped to San Francisco by the steamers. Last year but little rain fell until nearly the 1st of January and the fish unable to reach the spawning grounds, owing to low water, were caught in large numbers up to the 24th of December. This year the fishermen had good success and the recent rains causing the river to rise, the fish have all gone up to the spawning ground and from this fact, it is estimated there will be more salmon in Eel River next year than ever before.
DHT (23 Nov. 1879) Salmon--From Mr. Fulmor, we learn that Eel River now is fairly alive with salmon and the fishermen are catching them by the tons. There seems to have been a second run this season.
DHT (23 Nov. 1879) Fish--There were shipped...yesterday from Eel River one hundred and eight-five boxes of fresh salmon or about forty tons. This is the largest shipment that has been made at any one time this season.
WHT (29 Nov. 1879) Salmon Fishing on Eel River--There seems to be some doubt in the minds of the men engaged in salmon fishing on Eel River as to just what time during the year the law prohibits the catching of salmon in quantities or with nets and seines. While in that vicinity in the early portion of the week we were requested to look up the law, and if possible furnish the desired information, and for the benefit of our subscribers have devoted considerable time in looking up the question.
There have always been general laws governing the catching of salmon, but in 1859 a special Act was passed to regulate fisheries on Eel river. Section 1 of the Act says: "It shall be lawful to catch or take salmon from Eel River at any time between the 15th day of September and 25th day of November of each year, in any manner and by any means not prescribed [prohibited?] by the laws of the State." This Act remained in force for many years. In 1874 an amendment to the Code was passed, providing that: "Every person who between the 1st day of August and the 1st day of November in each year, takes or catches any salmon is guilty of a misdemeanor; the possession of any salmon during said period shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section." But at the time this amendment was passed, certain exceptions were made, one of which was the Act of 1859, regulating salmon fishing on Eel River.
During the session of 1877-8 another amendment was made, providing as follows: "Every person who between the first day of August and the 15th day of September of each [year], takes or catches, buys or sells or has in his possession any fresh salmon is guilty of a misdemeanor. Every person who shall set or draw, or shall assist in setting or drawing any net or seine for the purpose of taking or catching salmon in any of the waters of this State between sunrise of each Saturday and twelve o'clock, noon, of the following Sunday, is guilty of a misdemeanor."
When this amendment was passed in 1878, the last session of the Legislature, no exceptions were made, and as it now applies to any and all waters of the State, it takes precedence and is the law. In our opinion both provisions of the amendment affect the salmon fishermen of Humboldt county. 1st. It is unlawful for them to catch or take any salmon from the 1st day of August to and including the 15th day of September in each year. 2d. That it is unlawful for them to catch or take any salmon between sunrise of each Saturday and twelve o'clock, noon, on the following Sunday. As no exception is made for Eel River, the late amendment is in force here as well as elsewhere, and we think the law is very plain on this point at least that is the construction we place upon it.
DHT (1 Feb. 1880) Fish--Mr. J.E. Still of the Willow Brook farm near Salmon Creek has been corresponding with B.B. Redding of Sacramento, Fish Commissioner of California, concerning the stocking of the streams of Humboldt County with food fish. Carp, catfish and another fish have been received in large quantities on this coast but no attention has been paid to this section of the state...By the last steamer, Mr. Still received the first installment, five hundred catfish, which he immediately transferred to the waters of Eel River...Another supply ...proposed to be placed in Elk River, Mad River, Bear River and the Mattole.
FE (3 Sept. 1880) Eel River Cannery--This cannery will begin operations at once at Ramseyville, turning out 16,000 cans for the next few weeks or until the fish begin running. There will be sixty men employed, mostly Chinamen, we regret to say. A heavy run of fish is expected and the proprietors expect to can a large quantity. This industry is of great benefit to Eel River Valley, many thousands of dollars being placed in circulation during its operations here.
FE (15 Oct. 1880) The various fishing firms along the river have been preparing their nets for some weeks past and on Wednesday began the work of taking fish. It is expected that the run will be large, many thousand cases being put up...
DHT (9 Nov. 1880) Salmon--The salmon fishing season has opened under rather auspicious circumstances. The steamer Senator has already carried about eleven tons of fresh salmon to the San Francisco market and ninety boxes, nearly equaling in weight that shipped by the Senator on two voyages, constituted a portion of the Humboldt's freight yesterday...
DHT (11 Nov. 1880) Salmon--Considerable business is now being done at the salmon fisheries on Eel and Salt rivers. The run has been large and the catch up to within a week very good, Adams & Swett, Smith Fulmor and one or two other firms doing the greater portion of the work. The cannery of Cutting & Co. is putting a large quantity of fish in cans for the trade and export.
DHT (15 Nov. 1881) The Eel river cannery is well supplied with salmon. Twenty thousand cans of fish are put up daily.
DHT (27 Nov. 1881) Salmon Fishing--It is well known that the catch of salmon in Eel river has been unusually small this present year, the whole amount taken being not more than one third of last year's catch. None can account for the falling off, but it is very certain that the salmon did not get up the river as usual. This is partly on account of the large catch three years ago and the late freshet of that season. The eggs were probably matured before the fish arrived at their usual place of depositing them. It is now proposed to have an artificial establishment for propagating them in order to guard against future failure in this business. On the St. Cloud [McCloud] river our government has an extensive establishment for propagating salmon by artificial means. Many millions of young salmon are produced there annually. The Sacramento river receives one million of these young salmon annually, which is making a great addition to their fishery. Cannot we do something to help ourselves to increase our supply of fish?--Ferndale Enterprise.
DHT (1 Dec. 1881) Suspended Work--The salmon cannery at the mouth of Eel river has suspended operations, probably for the season. This is due to the unusually small run of salmon this year. Most of the Columbia river catch has been shipped to England and the partial failure of the Eel river catch is therefore particularly unfortunate.
DHT (4 Dec. 1881) Salmon in Eel River--The cannery is again running with a full force of men, the run of fish being much larger than at any time this season...
FE (16 Dec. 1881) The Cannery--The cannery shut down on Saturday last, thus ending the fish canning business on Eel River for this season. The company had some seventy Chinamen in their employ, all of whom left on Monday, part going to the Columbia river to work, when those canneries open. At the opening of the season, the company expected to can about 15,000 cases, having had 700,000 cans made, but owing to the scarcity of salmon in the river, they only canned 6,080 cases or 201,840 cans, a falling off of 5,000 cases from last season. The cannery has a running capacity of 20,000 cans a day.
DHT (3 Jan. 1882) The Eel River Cannery--Between 5,000 and 6,000 cases of salmon were canned at the Eel river cannery during the season. The company had prepared to can about 70,000 [?] cases of the fish but the small run of fish prevented fulfillment of their expectations. The last of the lot of fish will be shipped soon and the thousands of empty cans will also be reshipped to San Francisco.
DHT (10 Oct. 1882) A few salmon have been caught in Eel river this season. The different fisheries and firms engaged in the business have their boats, seines, etc., all in readiness for the season's work. It is thought salmon will come in in large quantities the latter part of the week.
FE (15 Dec. 1882) The cannery has shut down...Salmon are still plentiful in Eel river.
WHT (20 Jan. 1883) Jesse H. Dungan has granted the Cutting Packing Company the right to use land in Secs. 4, 15, 22, 23 and 24 in such manner as they may desire for catching, canning or curing, or in any way dealing in fish, including the right to erect along and upon the banks of Eel river such buildings as said corporation may require to conduct its business. The consideration named in the instrument is $100.
DHT (7 April 1883) From the Rohnerville Herald--...Jas. Smith caught a sturgeon in the Van Duzen which weighed 125 pounds and was 6 feet 2 inches long.
FE (5 Oct. 1883) Salmon are making their appearance in Eel river.
FE (10 Nov. 1883) Salmon are still scarce in Eel river notwithstanding the favorable outlook in the forepart of the season. The cannery hasn't had a sufficient amount of fish to keep them busy half their time. When no fish are on hand the time is employed in the tinshop making cans. The cannery, under the able management of James Smith, employs 65 Chinamen besides a few white men. With this force they have a canning capacity of 25,000 cans per day, of 1 pound each. Owing to the scarcity of salmon, they are paying $30 per ton. As it is comparatively early in the season yet, fishermen still have hopes of an average run.
FE (17 Nov. 1883) Communicated--...along the banks of Eel River, near where Salt River enters into it, Wm. Ellery has a large building erected, filled with large tanks in which the salmon he is catching by the tons are prepared ready for packing...
The catching of salmon is exciting business. A large seine is run out some distance from shore. When out the whole length, it forms a semicircle. A long line extends from each end of the seine to the shore and four or five men or a span of horses at each line, haul in until the fish are drawn on shore. If the haul is a good one, there will be from one to five tons. The one I witnessed there was about one ton.
It is fun to see the boys jump into the water knee deep and catch them and throw them into boats and scows...When the fish are all loaded, they are taken to the fish house, dressed, put into the tanks, receiving salt enough to prepare them for packing. I was told that it took them three weeks and upward before they were ready for the barrel. They are principally packed in half barrels.
I wandered from this place to the Eel river cannery. The first object I noticed was a large float of logs. On this was erected a large building in which the salmon, caught by the numerous fishermen, some with seines, others with gill nets, are received. After they are weighed, a number of Chinamen take them one by one and with a dexterous movement of the knife, decapitate them, slit them from end to end, remove the entrails, pass them along to another squad of Chinamen, who hack them up in pieces and load them in a box car. When loaded, this car is run into a wing of the cannery building, when another lot of Chinamen put them in cans ready for soldering. The cans are then passed along to the soldering machine. This is in itself a novelty and is a great saving in time and labor...A Wanderer.
FE (24 Nov. 1883) Communicated--...In my last I left the cans ready for the soldering machine. They pass through this machine, roll down an incline, constructed for the purpose, to the main building. They are then placed into coolers, each holding 120, one-pound cans. The coolers are then hoisted by a derrick and placed into large kettles containing boiling water. Dummy clocks mark the time they are put in. After boiling about two and a half hours, the time required to thoroughly cook the fish, they are then taken out, cooled and wheeled to another building where each can receives a coat of varnish. They are then tested by an expert, who simply taps them and seldom fails to detect the suppureous ones. The cans are then labelled and put up in cases. The steamer Edith takes them to McNulty's landing, they are hauled across Table Bluff and boated thence to steamers plying between Eureka and San Francisco. Up to this time, this cannery has worked up about 300 tons of salmon, turning off over 7,000 cases. This is better than it has done any previous year.
The next place I brought up at was the fishery of Messrs. Swett and Adams, located a few rods from the cannery and known in times past as Ramseyville. The salmon they catch are salted. On the other side of the river and opposite this place, Charley Marcus has a fishery. He also salts what he catches. Each of these fisheries employs from ten to twelve men. The last week the run of salmon has not been good as the week previous. In my next, I will give you the catch of the different fisheries mentioned. A Wanderer.
FE (8 Dec. 1883) From Wanderer--...The conclusion of my last letter left me at the fishery of Messrs. Swett & Adams. Leaving this place, I wandered along the banks of Eastlick Slough. This, in times past, was, no doubt, the main channel of Eel River...In journeying along, I noted considerable improvement in the clearing up of land and the erection of neat and substantial buildings. There is yet much improvement to be done. A large percentage of the land is still covered with timber and brush...When the time comes that all the land in Eel river valley is brought under cultivation, it will be the garden spot of the state...From here I crossed the slough and took a cutoff and came into Eel river opposite Jesse Dungan's. Here Messrs. Johnson & Denman were fishing for salmon. The run is so light they think of quitting for the season...A Wanderer.
DTT (24 Jan. 1884) Sixty boxes of fresh salmon from Eel River were shipped to San Francisco on the steamer yesterday, amounting to about ten tons.
DTT (16 Nov. 1884)...the Cutting Packing Company shipped 500 cases of canned salmon from its cannery on Eel River.
WTT (22 Aug. 1885) The Salmon Trout Question--In the early part of last week a number of small fish caught in Eel River were being sold in this city. It was a question as to whether it was against the law to catch them, the present law prohibiting the catching and selling the young of fish of any kind. The fishermen who were selling these fish claimed that they were not salmon trout, but a full grown fish of another kind. However, they expressed a willingness to abide by the decision of the Fish Commissioner. On the last steamer, by which the first shipment was made to San Francisco, the District Attorney sent a few to Commissioner Redding, and he decided that while not salmon trout or young salmon, they run with and are the young of a species of fish similar to the salmon, and grow to weigh eighteen or twenty pounds. Therefore, it is a violation of the law to catch them, and the fishermen have hauled in their nets.
WTT (12 Sept. 1885) It is about time that the matter of catching fish in Eel River, commonly called steel heads, and by some, young salmon, should be stopped. It should be stopped for the simple reason that catching these fish, by hauling seines, is contrary to law. The Fish Commission has so decided, and directed District Attorney Hunter to prosecute all parties engaged in catching such fish. The District Attorney has moved in the matter and one arrest has been made for violation of the law. This does not appear to have the desired effect. Five boxes of these fish were shipped on the Humboldt yesterday, and the man that shipped them knew perfectly well he was violating the law when he put them on board the steamer...
WTT (19 Sept. 1885) Not Young Salmon--Several disciples of Isaac Walton were called together in Judge Dixon's Court yesterday in response to a summons from Constable Bulkeley to enable a jury of twelve men to determine whether or [not] a lot of fish spread out on the floor were young salmon or some other kind of fish. The object of the examination was to ascertain whether the venerable John Robinson, who has been charged with misdemeanor in violating the fish laws of the State, was guilty or not...Several witnesses were examined on the part of the prosecution, who all testified to the best of their knowledge, that the fish in question were either young salmon or young steel heads, a species of salmon. The witnesses for the defense, three of whom were sons of the defendant, were very positive that the fish were salmon trout, and were not included among the young fish the law is intended to protect. The District Attorney assured the jury...that...the object was simply to protect young fish and not for the purpose of either charging or convicting the aged defendant of a crime...the jury...returned a verdict of not guilty.
FE (10 Oct. 1885) Sixty-five Chinamen arrived on the Chester Thursday for the Eel River Cannery.
FE (28 Nov. 1885) The cannery has shut down for the season after putting up about 6,000 cases of salmon. This is less than half the number intended to be canned at the commencement of the season.
WTT (19 Dec. 1885) ...While the Eel River cannery did a very successful business this season, the shipments of fresh salmon are stated to have been much smaller than usual.
WTT (26 Dec. 1885) Salmon are reported to be abundant in all the main streams of the county which empty into the ocean or Humboldt Bay...The fish have been caught in Eel River as far south as Alder Point.
FE (13 Feb. 1886) Wm. Ellery, who lives at the mouth of Eel River, is having his fish house moved, the making of the entrance so far to the south this winter having brought the "angry waters" too close up in his front yard for comfort.
DHT (31 Aug. 1886) An Indian passed through town yesterday with three or four shad about ten or twelve inches long, which he had caught in Eel River, by means of a gill net. As there has been no plant of this fish in that stream, just where they came from is not plain. Various theories are offered.
DHT (22 Oct. 1886) It is stated that the run of salmon this fall in Eel River is larger than it has been for years. At the fishery of J.A. Swett, last Thursday, more than twelve tons were caught.
DHT (2 Nov. 1886) There seems to be no falling off in the salmon run in Eel river. At the cannery, Friday night, it is stated, six tons of this fish were captured.
DHT (4 Nov. 1886) The exportation of salmon from Humboldt bay is assuming some importance. The steamer which sailed yesterday for San Francisco, carried about 250 cases of this fish, most of which was from the fishery of Inguglia Bros. on Eel River. Fifty cases came in on yesterday morning's train shipment.
FE (5 Nov. 1886) The Hume on her trip before the last carried away 600 cases of canned salmon...Up to the 1st of November, the cannery had put up 3,000 cases of canned salmon in excess of last year.
DHT (6 Nov. 1886) The Eel river cannery is said to use about fifteen tons of salmon a day.
FE (12 Nov. 1886) The cannery has already put up 8,000 cases of fish this season. The Hume carried away 1,600 cases of canned salmon from the cannery on her last trip. She also had on board 15 tons of fresh salmon.
FE (12 Nov. 1886) We paid Mr. J.A. Swett a visit at his fishing grounds last Tuesday and found him in the best of spirits. He is making large hauls of salmon and feels jubilant over the season's catch up to date. He says he is doing splendidly and that the season will be an exceedingly profitable one, not only to him but to all fishermen on the river. The salmon are of a fine quality and the largest that have been caught in Eel River for years...
FE (3 Dec. 1886) The fishing season still continues and fresh salmon on steamer days are bringing $50 per ton.
FE (17 Dec. 1886) The Fishing Season--The fishing season of 1886 has been the most prosperous one on Eel River for ten years. The indications from the first were that there would not only be a big run of salmon, but the fish would be of a superior quality as well, and the most enthusiastic prophet did not set the estimate of the season's catch too high. It would be a difficult matter to obtain the exact number of pounds of salmon caught in Eel River this fall, but we have sufficient figures at our command to warrant us in placing the season's catch at 1,000 tons. Of this, the Eel River cannery secured 500 tons, half of the catch, the result of the season's work at that institution being 12,200 cases. About twelve seines were engaged on the river and perhaps seventy gill nets.
The average crew on a seine can be placed at about eight men and one or two to each gill net. The catch of the different seines varied from about 140 tons down to the gill nets from about 14 tons down. The largest number of working days for any crew was fifty-two. The cannery paid $30 per ton for the fish purchased by them and those shipped fresh brought, in some instances, as high as $60 per ton, while the returns for those in salt may be placed at about $45 per ton. Averaging the season's catch at $35 per ton, which is a low average, we have the startling sum of $35,000 taken from the waters of Eel River in about seven weeks' time. More cases were packed at the cannery this season than ever before and the profits of that institution will be immense.
Nor is the fishing business done on Eel River with the going upstream of the salmon. Now comes the run of what is known as steel-heads, which will continue until the 1st of April, providing too large and too many freshets in the river are not experienced. A good number of the Eel River fishermen expect to catch a large number of these during the next three months, at the end of which time, the total amount of the value of fish taken from Eel River will be greatly in excess of the sum given above. The idea in the minds of some that the fishing business is of little import, must be dispelled by the above figures.
FE (24 Dec. 1886) Eel River--...We append below the statement of the business done by the Hume during the first eleven months of 1886...Exports from Port Kenyon to S.F. from Jan. to Nov., '86...Salmon, bbls., 450; Canned Salmon, cases, 5,930; Fresh Salmon, cases, 180...
FE (26 Aug. 1887) The Mass Meeting--Roberts' Hall, Ferndale, was well filled with people Saturday evening, it being the occasion of the mass meeting heretofore announced for the purpose of considering the question of the re-introduction of Chinese into the county, or more specifically, the return of the Chinese to operate the Eel River cannery...a motion carried that all who were against the re-introduction of Chinese labor into the county rise to their feet, the result of which was nearly the whole audience arose, showing plainly that the meeting was strongly in opposition to the Chinese coming. P.F. Hart, Esq., then arose and moved that all those who were opposed to using unlawful means to exclude the Chinese rise to their feet. A small minority arose, but when the nays were called the majority of those present stood up, a result we greatly regret...
FE (26 Aug. 1887) Communicated, Editor Enterprise:--The meeting held in Roberts' Hall on Saturday evening disclosed one fact worthy of the consideration of every true American. It was clearly made manifest that all the anarchists and socialists do not reside in Chicago, but that they are fastened like lynch pins in an axle in our midst, and that they are ready to take oaths to support the constitution and our laws so long as it suits them, and then be at liberty to incite murder and arson on account of supposed grievances. It is marvelous that men may acquire land under our munificent laws, and homes, and then attempt to incite riot, arson and murder. It is marvelous that some of our churches have for members men in high standing, who advocate and countenance such acts.
It is marvelous that under our laws men can assemble and openly advocate the commission of murder, arson, or any other crime and to place themselves outside of the law. It is high time to consider whether we are collectively a mob, and governed by men whose only recommendation is that they were born in a foreign land and advocate mob law, or whether we are free men, and governed by law. We cannot shut our eyes to such things and say that they are imaginary. The meeting of Saturday night and its fruits are before us. It is not a question of Chinese or no Chinese. It is a question of an arrogant, insolent mob, who openly insult people who happen to think that upon law and order depend our happiness and prosperity. Think of these things churches, think citizens of these things, and remember that it was such meetings and such means as this that plunged the country into a civil revolution in 1861. P.F. Hart.
FE (2 Sept. 1887) Salmon Canning on Eel River--To the Editor of the Examiner, Sir: A dispatch appeared in the Examiner on the 23d from Ferndale, giving the impression that the Pacific Coast Packing Company on Eel River (of which the Cutting Packing Company, San Francisco, are agents) was run exclusively by Chinese.
We would say that only about forty Chinamen are employed to do a portion of the work and one hundred white men are employed in other departments.
Last year the Pacific Coast Packing Company purchased 500 tons of fresh salmon on Eel River, disbursing therefor $15,000 and this season a higher price would be paid for fish. Many thousands of dollars would also be disbursed for firewood, charcoal, lumber, boxes, fish barrels, etc.; in fact, last year from a total outlay of $36,000, $4,500 only was paid to Chinamen. If this work is not continued, it would amount to stopping the distribution of $31,500 from among the white people to prevent $4,500 reaching Chinese.
Our white employees have been almost exclusively residents of Humboldt County. We have repeatedly offered to employ any residents of Humboldt County who could do any portion of the work performed by Chinese, but we have never had any application for such work.
The work referred to has never been satisfactorily done by white men; for proof of this we will cite the fact that the work mentioned is done exclusively by Chinese by every salmon cannery on the Pacific Coast and it is manifestly unreasonable and unjust that the residents of Humboldt county should single out the Pacific Coast Packing Company and attempt to force them to employ exclusively white men, thus putting them in hopeless competition with every other salmon cannery on the coast.
The Chinese employed by us have quarters near the cannery at an isolated point on Eel River. The fishing season rarely lasts over two months when all the Chinese are returned to San Francisco, as we have been doing for the past eight years.
During their residence at Eel River, they purchase liberally of the produce of the neighborhood and we refer to our neighbors without fear of an unfavorable report as to their character as quiet and peaceable men.
In the interest of common business sense, we respectfully request you to insert this communication. Pacific Coast Packing Co., N.W. Tallant, President.
FE (23 Sept. 1887) Communicated, San Francisco, Editor Enterprise:--A great many inquirers from Humboldt County desire to be informed whether or not we intend running the cannery at Eel River this season. We therefore beg to inform the good people interested...that unless the substantial citizens, and including those interested in transportation, desire us to come, bringing some of our help with us, as heretofore, and so express themselves emphatically and propose to give us all the aid and support in their power, we do not care to go.
We have carried on this business in your county since 1877, disbursing a good deal of money among and giving employment to many of your people and have had very pleasant relations with many of your citizens, but there have been very few years in which it has been a profitable business to us. We can place our capital in the promotion of this and other industries in other localities where we are heartily welcomed and do not care to go where we are not...Pacific Coast Packing Co.
FE (7 Oct. 1887) The Cannery to Run.
FE (21 Oct. 1887) Fresh salmon is being shipped on every steamer.
FE (4 Nov. 1887) The run of salmon in Eel River is on the improve. The cannery has already packed over 1,500 cases and good quantities are being shipped fresh and salted.
FE (18 Nov. 1887) Fishing--The run of salmon is still very poor in Eel River. Two of the seines were not fishing this week on account of the scarcity of salmon and the gill-netters are not getting very wealthy. The cannery has in the neighborhood of 5,000 cases...
FE (16 Dec. 1887) The Fishing Season--The fishing season just ended on Eel River did not prove to be a very profitable one, the catch being only about one-third of what it was last year. As near as we can estimate it, from the figures at our disposal, the total amount of salmon taken from Eel River this year will not exceed 375 tons, of this amount the principal seinemen caught as follows:
John O'Hara..............68 tons
Johnston & Weaver........33
Swett & Fulmore..........13
[23 Dec. 1887 issue corrected above by eliminating B. McCauley]
The balance was taken by the small seines and gill nets. Of this 375 tons, the cannery received 266 tons, the balance being shipped fresh, with the exception of perhaps 15 tons which were salted. The number of cases put up by the cannery is 7,500, 640 cases less than an average catch. Through the courtesy of Mr. Kendall of the Pacific Coast Packing Company, we obtained the following figures showing the total pack at the cannery for the past ten years in cases, each case containing four dozen cans of one pound each:
average yearly pack.....8,140
FE (1 June 1888) Our young friend and neighbor Martin Kerfoot will accept our thanks for one of the prettiest trout we ever laid eyes upon. It measured fully 16 inches in length and was taken from Williams Creek...
FE (3 Aug. 1888) Fly fishing has commenced on Eel river.
DHT (3 Aug. 1888) Some San Francisco fish dealers were here recently to make arrangements to be supplied with salmon trout from Eel River. The seining of this fish is contrary to law and we expect to see a stop put [to] it.
DHT (8 Aug. 1888) We understand fishermen on Eel River are making preparations to catch young salmon as soon as they make their appearance with the intention of making a test case of the first one that comes up. They claim that the fish are a distinct species, and that they do not come into the rivers to spawn, but go out late in the fall to spawn in the ocean.
DHT (28 Aug. 1888) Deputy Fish Commissioner A.T. Smith went to Eel river Sunday and returned to the city last evening, having in charge three men whom he caught in the act of fishing for young salmon. He brought some of the fish seized in with him as evidence. A test case will be made, and if unsuccessful we can only look to some special legislation to correct the evil.
FE (21 Sept. 1888) A party of Indians have constructed a fish dam across Eel River just below Singley's Ferry and are catching large numbers of young salmon. As the law does not grant Indians privileges not accorded to white men in the catching of fish, Deputy Fish Commissioner Smith sent word to them that they must remove the dam.
FE (28 Sept. 1888) The Indians sent word to Fish Commissioner Smith last week that they would not take out their fish trap in Eel River near Singley's Ferry, unless the county would board them for 3 months.
FE (2 Oct. 1888) Deputy Fish Commissioner Smith called on the Indians who have the trap in Eel river and as they refused to remove the trap, he had warrants sworn out for their arrest...Unknown parties placed a couple of charges of powder in the Indian fish trap in Eel river near Singley's Ferry Monday night and blew it into smithereens. The blast went off at about eleven o'clock and the noise and shower of debris greatly frightened the Indians who were camped on the river bar nearby...
FE (12 Oct. 1888) Quite a number of gill-netters have made their appearance on Eel River. They are after salmon.
FE (2 Nov. 1888) Nothing further has been done in the case of the People vs. Ellery [for illegal fishing]...The defendant, although willing to take out his license, is unwilling to promise to change his net for one of larger mesh. He claims that the majority of salmon in Eel River are of a species weighing from 8 to 10 pounds and that they can go right through a seven and a half inch net; and if a net of that size is used, the catch would not pay expenses. He also claims that out of over seventy used this season, there are but one or two that comply with the letter of the law.--Times.
FE (16 Nov. 1888) Salmon are more plentiful in Eel River since the rains set in. We are informed that J.A. Swett caught ten tons at one haul the other afternoon...
DHT (22 Nov. 1888) We were informed yesterday that the trial at Ferndale of Wm. Ellery for violating the fish law, in using a seine whose meshes were smaller than allowed by law, resulted in a verdict of guilty, and that a fine of $100 was imposed. The other cases will probably follow in their order, unless the parties under arrest plead guilty.
FE (23 Nov. 1888) Plenty of Salmon--A week ago Tuesday, an immense run of salmon started in Eel River and fish have been more than plentiful in that stream ever since, particularly in the lower river. Swett & Fulmore have been making enormous hauls, they having already caught about all they are prepared to take care of and intend ceasing fishing this week. We visited the river last Friday and in the short space of an hour saw ten tons of beautiful salmon hauled ashore by the crews of Swett and Ellery. While most of the fish seem to stay below the cannery, the fishermen above that institution, we are told, are doing fairly well since the big run started. Wm. Ellery tells us that there are more fish in Eel river this year than he ever saw before and he has been fishing on that stream about 30 seasons. Those who are prepared to salt their catch will make money this season, but those who are not, will not do so well. Mr. Adams, who is salting at the cannery, tells us that he refused fish at $10 a ton last week from those who were not prepared to handle them. We are told that he is now paying $20 per ton, just half of what was paid last season. The fact of the cannery not running limits the market and those not prepared to salt are left to either ship to San Francisco fresh or sell their fish for what they can get to those who can handle them. Were the cannery running, all the fish caught could be disposed of and there would be no surplus.
FE (14 Dec. 1888) Had the law permitted the seine-men on Eel River to use a seine with meshes of a size suitable to Eel River fish and had the cannery been running, so every fish caught would have brought its worth, those engaged in this industry would have made lots of money this season...The fishing season in Eel River is nearing an end, the salmon now being caught by those yet fishing being of inferior quality. Several of the seine-men and many of the gill-netters have knocked off, the price of fresh salmon in San Francisco being very low, the market being overstocked by too many shipping. The lot shipped last week, we are told, only brought a cent a pound...Swett & Fulmore have, perhaps, caught more fish this season than all the other fishermen on Eel River put together. The fish seemed to stay continually on their grounds and on the grounds of Wm. Ellery adjoining, the last named catching quite a quantity also. Swett & Fulmore have filled every vat and tub they could get hold of. Many of the fish caught were monsters in size, the salmon as a rule being much larger this season than ordinarily. Had this not been the case, their catch would have been much smaller, for with a regulation seine, 7 1\2 inch mesh, they could have done very little with fish of ordinary size.
FE (1 Feb. 1889) Eel river fishermen continue to ship steel-head salmon to San Francisco. The price is low.
FE (15 March 1889) We learn that [McGowan's] "fish-net bill" has passed both houses of the legislature...This bill provides that the supervisors of each county shall regulate the size of mesh of the seines to be used in salmon fishing in their respective counties. This piece of news will be joyfully received by the fishermen of Eel river.
FE (22 March 1889) A sample of the small fish which swarm in Eel river during this season of the year was submitted recently by Deputy Fish Commissioner A.T. Smith of this county to experts in San Francisco and it has been decided that they are young salmon. Mr. Smith now intends to enforce the law regarding the catching of the same.
DHT (19 July 1889) We are informed that nets with small meshes are being constructed for the purpose of catching the young salmon which will soon appear in Eel River. Our Fish Commissioner should see to it that the illegal taking of these fish is not allowed.
FE (4 Oct. 1889) The Eel River cannery is to run this fall, workmen being already engaged in making the needed repairs. Our fishermen are very glad of this fact, as they tried it one year without the cannery and did not do very well.
FE (18 Oct. 1889) The cannery will pay $40 a ton for fish this year and should there be a good run of salmon in the river our fishermen will all do well. Last year demonstrated the fact that the "salting business" was mighty uncertain.
FE (18 Oct. 1889) Our sportsmen are having lots of fun trolling for salmon. They are catching quite a number. Get a spoon hook from Trost & King and try your luck. It's lots of sport.
FE (25 Oct. 1889) Judge Smith returned from the cannery just before our press hour yesterday. He says the cannery is running in full blast and that 35 tons of fish have been purchased by the Packing Company already. The gill-netters are doing well, but the seines are hung up waiting for the river to go down a little.
FE (1 Nov. 1889) The cannery is receiving fish from as far up the river as Fortuna.
FE (8 Nov. 1889) A ton and a half of fish was brought down from Price Creek to the cannery...An abundance of salmon is being caught in Eel river. The cannery is receiving more fish than it can handle.
FE (15 Nov. 1889) The cannery had to salt 10 tons of fish the other day. They had more salmon on the dock than the cannery could get away with.
FE (15 Nov. 1889) Fishing--For the past ten days Eel river fishermen have been catching tons and tons of salmon, but Wednesday there was a perceptible decrease in the run of fish. The cannery has been running from five o'clock in the morning until late at night, but, notwithstanding this, the company had to refuse fish from the gill-netters and those seinemen with whom they had not agreed to purchase their entire catch. It is believed now, however, that the cannery can handle all the fish that is brought to that institution, as the big run is probably over. Up to last evening 8,000 cases had been packed, and from present indications the pack this season will far exceed that of previous years.
FE (15 Nov. 1889) Price Creek Notes--Weymouth and Ray are busily engaged in hauling immense numbers of salmon from the depths of Eel River.
FE (15 Nov. 1889) The Humboldt carried away Wednesday 150 boxes of fresh salmon. The cannery has had this week more fish than it could handle.
FE (22 Nov. 1889) Fishing has come to a standstill in Eel river, owing to the high water in that stream, the river having raised considerably since the storm started...On Monday large quantities of salmon were caught and the cannery up to last accounts had [put] up nearly 10,000 cases.
FE (22 Nov. 1889) When the editorial writer on the Standard states that the Enterprise sacrificed its anti-Chinese principles when coin was pitted against it, he states that which is false. The Enterprise is as strongly anti-Chinese as it ever was, but in the case of the return of the Chinese to the cannery it failed to see where any damage could result from their coming, and it knew that much benefit to this community would result therefrom...
FE (6 Dec. 1889) The run of salmon is about over in Eel river and the cannery closed down this week, having packed over 12,000 cases, the largest pack ever made in the river. The high water has allowed the fish to go up stream. The gill-netters may continue to fish a week or so longer or until the run of steel-heads is over.
FE (14 March 1890) Robert Morgan, of the cannery section, informs us that Eel river did bad work again for Justin Adams last week. Another large slice of his land was carried away...The Swett fish houses were carried away by the February freshet and this time the smoke house and outbuildings went down the stream. The section of the cook house which remained after the February freshet was moved back from the river before last week's high water or it would have gone with the rest of the buildings. Mr. Adams had his barn torn down and the lumber hauled back from the river before last week's rise or he would have lost that building also...
FE (21 March 1890) About 400 tons of canned and barreled salmon is at the cannery awaiting shipment.
FE (21 March 1890) We visited the cannery Friday and were surprised to see the havoc brought by Eel river in that locality. The south bank of the river was washed considerably from the Dungan place down to Salt river, the Justin Adams place being very badly damaged.
FE (22 Aug. 1890) Jack Adams...says the company is yet undecided whether they will operate the Eel river cannery this fall...
FE (12 Sept. 1890) Fish Commissioner Smith declares that the young fish now being taken in Eel river are young salmon, that it is unlawful to catch them, and that he proposes prosecuting the offenders if they do not desist.
FE (10 Oct. 1890) J.A. Swett intended starting in seining in Eel river this week. Salmon have made their appearance.
FE (17 Oct. 1890) The Eel river cannery will not run this season, but the cannery intends salting what salmon they secure. Jack Adams is in charge of the company's fishing grounds and Mr. Wetherbee will superintend the salting operations.
FE (21 Nov. 1890) Gill-netters are numerous on Eel river this season. They are catching some fish, but the seinemen are not getting wealthy.
FE (28 Nov. 1890) Salmon in Abundance--Since last Thursday night, Eel river has been literally alive with salmon and the fishermen on the river have had all the fish they could handle. Sunday night the Legg Bros. caught 30 tons at one draw, probably the largest haul ever made on the river. Since then five to ten ton hauls have been of frequent occurrence. Fresh salmon in the San Francisco market command a low price and those of the fishermen who are not prepared to salt their catch are in a bad way. The cannery is not running and the seinemen prepared to salt can catch themselves all the fish they can take care of.
FE (19 Dec. 1890) Steelhead salmon are still running in Eel river. Several of the seinemen are still at work, but the end is not far distant.
FE (26 Dec. 1890) The Eel River Cannery--We have been reliably informed that the Eel river cannery fishing grounds etc. are offered for sale, the Cutting Packing Company having definitely decided to dispose of the same and cease operations on Eel river. It is also stated that an Italian company is negotiating for the purchase of the property.