Sunday, July 05, 2009

Island Adventure

I had the opportunity last night to spend The Forth on Indian Island. The island is roughly 240 acres of mostly uninhabited and undeveloped land in the middle of Humboldt Bay. A friend of mine owns one of 4 or 5 small lots on the island and held a Bar-B-Q out there to celebrate the birth of our nation. The island is really very beautiful.

Most of the islands sits barely above sea level and is little more than grass land. The small area with the houses is a densely wooded area of Wax Myrtle and what looks like some type of Bay tree. There are deer and a few people, but not much else. Even though The Samoa Bridge seems to stop on the island the only way to get to it is by boat because there are no roads.

The small red circle shows where we were on the island. The red box in the channel shows where the barge was set up for the fireworks display. I have never been closer to a fireworks display in my life. It was pretty spectacular. The green circle is Woodley Island and the green box is Eureka. The black box at the upper left is the Samoa Peninsula and beyond that, out of the picture, is the Pacific Ocean.

The island has a colorful and tragic past. The tragedy came in about 1870 when a group of about 70 Indians living on the island were massacred by the new locals from the main land. I guess that was the thing to do at the time. It is interesting how easy that sort of thing becomes once you dehumanize a group of people. Sadly, it still happens today all over the world.

At other times there were also 2 sawmills, a yacht club, some grand houses, and other activities. My friend who now owns the property gave me the long and very interesting story of the island, but the short version is that by the 1920s most of the fevered activity was over and the island settled into a long and relatively quite state for the next 80 years.

In about 1920 2 small house boats from San Francisco where beached on the island. Legend has it that house boats in SF were a popular retreat for the city-slickers but after the 1906 earthquake they became permanent housing for people who were left with nothing else. After a few decades – possibly around the time of the 1915 World’s Fair – the house boat community was asked to leave and two of them ended up on the part of the island that is now owned by my friend. He is in the process of restoring them.

It is all very interesting.

After dinner and before the fireworks a few of us took a long hike around the island. We followed the tree line on the north side. There are a lot of old remnants of old docks and other man-made devices that are slowly being reclaimed by the environment. The sky is dotted with Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, Sea Gulls, and a few other types of birds no one was sure of, and I actually saw one of the deer that live on the island. We stared at each other for a moment and then he bolted in to the woods.

There were these two square pools of nasty stagnant water with the remains of some sort of dock or fence in the middle. Gracie was bounding through the tall grass and found them unexpectedly when she suddenly disappeared off the horizon.

This is Gracie, wet and smelly seconds after extracting herself from the pool. We didn’t touch her much the rest of the night.

It was really a wonderful evening. There was cloud cover but the air was still and the clouds were high enough that they didn’t get in the way of the fireworks. We were minutes away from town but it felt like we were hours away. Oh, and as I said, the fireworks were spectacular at such close range. Unfortunately, my camera does not do them justice.


Jayne said...

What a wonderful day! The history of the island is really interesting, too.

Bones said...

Looks like you had a spectacular Fourth of July! Love the pictures of the old cabin and houseboat on the island, too. Didn't know anyone lived there!

Twenty years ago, nobody gave a s**t about the houseboats lining the creeks and channels south of Market. When the area started to gentrify during the construction of Willie Mays Field, The City tried to get rid of the houseboats, but the 'boaters won, and the few remaining are now legit: In case you're curious.

Anonymous said...

sounds wonderful, love the blonde braids and the lovely doggie!

Bonita said...

May I introduce you to my houseboat/boathouse described when I first started my blog.

Greg said...


That is SO awesome! I want a house boat!

According to the owner of the houseboat I visited on the 4th, it was occupied until about 20 years ago.

Kimberly said...

Your post made me curious about the island and the massacre that occurred there. So I checked out wikipedia and found their link to and old article about it. here:

Greg said...

It is amazing what you can find on-line, and as that article shows, I never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Thank you for posting that.

Hayduke said...

The New York Times article was actually written by Bret Harte, who lashed out in editorial rage as you can see from the article and barely escaped with his life when the locals ran him out of town.

Carson Park Ranger said...

We were in a boat on the bay. I assume that it wasn't your party playing the head-banger music.

Thanks to Kimberly for the link to the Bret Harte article. Shameful history that we should never forget.

Greg said...

It wasn't us with the music. We didn't even have electricity!