Fort Humboldt

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Fort Humboldt (1853-1866) - Established 30 Jan 1853 during the California Gold Rush by Captain (Bvt Lt. Colonel) Robert C. Buchanan, 4th U.S. Infantry, and named after Humboldt Bay. Abandoned 14 Sep 1867.

Fort Humboldt Period Picture
Fort Humboldt Reconstructed Surgeon's Quarters
Fort Humboldt Restored Hospital/Museum

California Gold Rush (1852-1858)

Established on a 35 foot high bluff overlooking Humholdt Bay at present day Eureka, Humboldt County, California to provide settlers and miners protection from hostile Indians. The post was also a supply depot for other posts in northern California including Fort Bragg and Fort Gaston.

Fort Humboldt HABS Sketch


Fort Humboldt Surgeon's Quarters Interior

Captain Ulysses S. Grant, 4th U.S. Infantry, was posted to Fort Humboldt early in 1854 after a two year assignment at Fort Vancouver. The isolation and boredom of the post caused Grant to spend much of his leisure time in a local tavern or out riding alone. On 31 Jul 1854, he resigned from the army, returned east and took up farming.

In July 1854 Colonel Joseph K.F. Mansfield inspected Fort Humboldt and was very complementary about the garrison. He said, "These troops have done a great deal of work and put up all their quarters ... great credit is due this command for its industry &c. A good bakery, hospital, store house and magazine have been built, and abundant quarters for officers."


U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Fort Humboldt Park Plan from the Brochure

At the beginning of the U.S. Civil War the officers and enlisted men at Fort Humboldt declared their loyalties and were recalled to the east coast. Like many posts in the west, Fort Humboldt was regarrisoned by California Volunteer troops and became the headquarters of the Humboldt Military District. The district included Fort Bragg, Fort Wright, Fort Gaston, Fort Ter-Waw, Fort Seward and several camps. At the end of the war the federal troops returned and regarrisoned Fort Humboldt.

In 1866 the garrison was reduced to a single company of artillery. The post was maintained primarily to provide supplies to Fort Gaston. On 14 Sep 1867 it was reported that the last company had been withdrawn and the post abandoned. The military reservation was transferred to the Department of Interior 6 Apr 1870.


Current Status

Fort Humboldt Visitor Center

Fort Humboldt California State Historic Park. Only the hospital building remains out of the original fourteen buildings and it is now a historical museum. The Surgeon’s Quarters was reconstructed in the 1980s and in 2001 a historic garden was recreated next to the hospital.

The park is open for self guided touring but the period buildings, the museums and the visitor center are currently closed due to state budget constraints.


USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry:

  • Name: Fort Humboldt Type: Historical Class: Military ID: 1702454
  • Location: Humboldt County, California, US, FIPS Code: 06023
  • Latitude: 40.7766667, Longitude: -124.1875, Elevation: 43 Map: Eureka
  • As Of: 02 Dec 1996
Source: U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Location: Fort Humboldt California State Historic Park, 3431 Fort Avenue, Eureka, Humboldt County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.776944 Long: -124.188889

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Visited: 11 Nov 2012

Fort Humboldt Picture Gallery

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