The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought a huge influx of people to the state. In just two years, the population of San Francisco grew from 1,000 to 25,000. However, only a small percentage of gold-seekers actually struck it rich, and many ended up in debt or poverty.
Del Norte County, located in the northwestern corner of California, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The region was originally inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Yurok, Tolowa, and Karok. These tribes thrived off the bountiful natural resources of the area, including salmon runs and redwood forests.

European contact came in the 16th century when explorers from Spain and Russia arrived on the coast. However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century during the California Gold Rush that significant settlement and development occurred. In 1853, Del Norte County was officially established, named after the northernmost town along the coast, Del Norte (Spanish for "the north").

The discovery of gold in the Klamath River brought an influx of miners and settlers to the area. Del Norte County became an important hub for trade and transportation, with towns like Crescent City and Smith River serving as vital economic centers.

Over the years, Del Norte County experienced its share of challenges and tragedies. The devastating 1964 Alaska earthquake, which triggered a tsunami and resulted in significant damage to Crescent City, stands out as one of the most impactful events in the county's history.

Today, Del Norte County is known for its stunning natural beauty, including the majestic redwood forests of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean. It continues to attract visitors who are drawn to its rich history, outdoor recreational opportunities, and charming small towns.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Del Norte County, California.

  • 1857 - Del Norte County is established and named after the "North" part of the nearby Klamath River
  • 1858 - Gold is discovered along the Klamath River, leading to a gold rush in the area
  • 1870 - The city of Crescent City is incorporated
  • 1895 - The Crescent City and Smith River Railroad is established, connecting Crescent City to the timber mills in nearby Oregon
  • 1913 - The historic Battery Point Lighthouse is built in Crescent City
  • 1942 - During World War II, the Del Norte County Fairgrounds are used as a Japanese internment camp
  • 1956 - The two-span Crescent City Harbor Bridge is completed, providing improved access between Crescent City and the harbor
  • 1964 - Crescent City is devastated by a tsunami following a 9.2 magnitude earthquake in Alaska
  • 1989 - The Redwood National and State Parks, including parts of Del Norte County, are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • 2006 - The Chip Seal Road Program is initiated, aiming to improve road conditions throughout Del Norte County