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Archive for the ‘Geography and Climate’ Category

I have had these map copies around for a while. I believe i originally copied them from the Dept. of Natural Resources office on L Street in Eureka– they have a nice collection of maps and photos there, sorted into drawers by community. Denny’s is a great map because it’s so detailed, and as far as i can find, quite reliable.

The usual instructions: Find any general map-use guidelines you might need from this previous post. Also, as in all these map series i will put up, the areas overlap as they travel upstream, then back to the King Range coastline. Click and enlarge for detail, or use your control/+ function to go in until the pixels become annoying.

More maps to come, in the coming weeks or months… stay tuned!

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Phil Franklin of Petrolia gave us this wonderful map. It is very similar in form to the 1911 Denny’s map, so i had assumed that the clippings of it that i’d seen came from an earlier Denny’s; but no, Phil’s intact map showed the publishing information, definitely J.N. Lentell, 1898.

The usual instructions: Find any general map-use guidelines you might need from this previous post. Also, as in all these map series i will put up, the areas overlap as they travel upstream, then back to the King Range coastline. Click and enlarge for detail, or use your control/+ function to go in until the pixels become annoying.

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The Stanley N. Forbes map, published in 1886. I would like to thanks Richard “Rob” Roberts, known through the Ferndale Museum and Ann Roberts (his wife), not to mention his exhaustive work republishing the Seth Kinman material, for sharing this with us. The 1880s were a mystery period to me, mapwise. This fills in a lot of gaps!

Find any general map-use guidelines you might need from this previous post. Also, as in all these map series i will put up, the areas overlap as they travel upstream, then back to the King Range coastline. Click and enlarge for detail, or use your control/+ function to go in until the pixels become annoying.

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A.J. Doolittle made this Humboldt County map in 1865, just as our oil boom was reaching full stride. There is all sorts of interesting information printed on the map, as well as the invaluable road, town, and property ownership representations.

This particular map doesn’t outline the blocks very well, so i enhanced them in green. Nor does it show the Section numbers, so you will have to count in the prescribed pattern (see previous post or go here) up from 36 to find your Section.

It’s not easy to keep the file size down so that the maps load quickly, while keeping them big enough to allow zooming in to see the detail. Let me know if you have any suggestions. I broke down this map, and the following, into areas starting near the mouth of the river and north, and proceeding to the southeast, or upstream, with a last map of the coast section off the King Range.

(Remember that you can double-click on the image to enlarge it; if you want it even bigger, use your own computer’s zoom system, usually control and the + sign)

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As you can see from the map below, copied from the National Geographic of October, 2009, in its article “The Tallest Trees: Redwoods,” we live in one of the few areas along the North American west coast’s Redwood Belt that does not support a natural Sequoia sempervirens population. As we all know, our microclimate makes this Valley a unique location for agriculture or vacationing relaxation away from the fogs of Humboldt Bay and the Eel River Valley. Locally, the gap in coastal fog is known as the Mattole Hole, and is quite sharply apparent when returning from town (points north) along the Wildcat on a summer’s day. We emerge from the fog around Cape Mendocino to see a blanket of clouds over the ocean opening in a big backwards “C” out from the mouth of the Mattole.

The lack of summer fog, which causes the Valley’s inhospitality to redwoods, is due to winds funneling down from warm inland areas. A drawback is that in late summertime, we often smell smoke from wildfires hundreds of miles inland.
Around 1989, i read in a Mattole Journal (a tiny, hard-to-find publication put out by Honeydew’s Bill Kelly, that only lasted for two years) that the geography of Cape Mendocino was responsible for this unusual phenomenon. Summer winds from the northwest blow down almost perpendicular to the coast north of the Cape, setting up a spiral effect below, which draws inland air out through a mountain gap in the Southern Humboldt area, and down through the Mattole Valley. An opposite wind pattern during most of the winter brings moist, tropical Pacific air up via “Pineapple Express” storms, giving us formidable rainfall totals when these systems hit the King Range wall.

On the map, you can see the gap the warm air flows through, and the special zone called Home by several hundred lucky or fated souls– west of the redwoods. (I added the yellow markings to show the lower Mattole Valley and river-mouth area.For this image, as for any on this site, “click it to big it.”)

This National Geographic map shows the Redwood Belt in dark green.

Not that there’s anything wrong with redwoods– i love the redwood forest, and living near such a magnificent micro-world is pretty special in itself. But there is something a little beyond about being out here, “Furthest West,” at least the furthest-left land in California.

Which is why i will ramble on with some more thoughts. Once i read, i think it was in Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, that the generally-accepted theory of the material progress of cultures goes from hunter-gatherer to settled agriculturalists (and depending on how anti-patriarchal or conservative the viewpoint, that enlightened social values go with one or the other– but there’s another topic), and usually at any one point in time, a culture is either wandering and non-agricultural, or sedentary (settled) and actively cultivating the land for plant materials. But there are exceptions. In these favored areas, writes Diamond, people are able to be settled in permanent villages (although they may seasonally migrate to certain resources, e.g. acorn groves or fish-spearing sites), without digging the earth– that is, they basically are able to remain hunter-gatherers, while staying in one location long enough to develop strong ties to the land and to each other, and to evolve to a lasting site-specific culture.

The book said that the three best-known large areas which could support this lifestyle were the Mediterranean (a very general statement, i know; if i had the book handy right now, i would be more specific); the coast of Chile; and the northwest coast of North America. Obviously many small islands of the Pacific would qualify, and probably countless other microclimates, as well.

So here we are in one of these marvellous areas where people can basically have a permanent home and gather the food as it moves by outside the door… but then add to that our enjoying the microclimate of the Mattole Hole, with enough rain in the winter to feed our springs and river all year-round, and enough warmth in the summer to ripen berries, grow huge acorn-bearing tanoak trees, and now, raise all the vegetables a modern American would want to grow… and you see we are in an enviable earthly paradise. Indeed, the Native Mattoles are believed to have cultivated nothing but ceremonial tobacco, unless of course you consider the intentional annual grass-burning a cultivation of the soil. They ate well and were described as fat and happy by the earliest White explorers.

Let’s not forget that this treasure of a place needs protection, as even the blessings of salubrious climate can be changed by… well, abuse and overuse of water resources, abuse and overuse of salmon runs, abuse and overuse in general… anything brought on by overpopulation and greed. That’s why most of us resist the “growth” of the population or the infrastructure here.

There’s no point in diluting a bounty of Nature until it no longer exists for anyone.

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