Arcata

History

Arcata is a little town on the coast in the far north of California. With giant redwoods, a fierce ocean and flowing rivers, there is a wild beauty to the North Coast. Cut off from the rest of California by the ocean to the west and mountains on three sides, there is also a sense of freedom ... and there is a feeling of being far away from the rest of America.

Arcata was founded around the time of the 1849 Gold Rush, and it depended on ranching, fishing, and timber to survive. Wild and remote, it took days to get to and from San Francisco by boat or road. The people here have a long-standing tradition of independence and self-reliance. Logging was the main industry for many years. By hand and by horse, white settlers cut down the giant redwoods, creating wealth and a culture of hard work and toughness.

In 1913, Humboldt State University was established with an emphasis on Natural Resources and Forestry studies. This institute of higher learning attracted a population of academics and students, making the town a little different from its rural neighbors. Those differences became more marked during the sixties, with national conflict over an unpopular war and a growing environmental movement that challenged the values of more traditional residents. There have been bitter battles through the decades, but all parties share a sense of freedom and self-determination and a love of place.

Foodworks Culinary CenterHumboldt County has a large population of artists, actors, and musicians. The area supports several museums, galleries, active theaters and concert halls. In Arcata, newcomers and longtime residents have created innovative programs, events, and small businesses that produce nationally recognized products. Arcata is the light manufacturing and niche center of Northern California with business development projects that include the Foodworks Culinary Center. The city-owned forest recently developed the Community Forest Ridge Trail, offering miles of trails for hiking, cycling and horse-back riding.

Even though it's isolated

Arcata is world famous for visionary endeavors.

The Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary The Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the City of Arcata's innovative wastewater treatment facility. The sanctuary of 307 acres includes freshwater marshes, salt marsh, tidal sloughs, grassy uplands, mudflats, brackish marsh, approximately five miles of walking and bike paths and an Interpretive Center. By integrating conventional wastewater treatment with the natural processes of constructed wetlands, Arcata has succeeded in turning wastewater into a resource.

Located at the north end of Humboldt Bay, the sanctuary is situated along the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory route for thousands of birds that breed in the far north and winter in California, Mexico and Central and South America. These wetlands provide homes and migratory resting places for over 270 species of birds. With 73 species here year-round and numerous species of plants, mammals, insects and amphibians, there's always something to see.

Kinetic Grand Championship  The first human-powered race of amphibious, all-terrain works of art was held in Humboldt County, California in 1969. That race, now called the Kinetic Grand Championship, is referred to as the "Triathlon of the Art World" because art and engineering are combined with physical endurance during a three-day cross-country race that includes sand, mud, pavement, a bay crossing, a river crossing, and major hills. It spans 42 miles over three festive days, beginning on the Arcata Plaza and ending in the historic town of Ferndale.

Arcata Community ForestEnvironmental Activism The Humboldt County/Arcata area has been at the forefront in environmental activism for many years. Concern with the protection of the redwood forests, Pacific Ocean, and fish and wildlife led to the creation of the Northcoast Environmental Center, Redwood Alliance, and other nationally recognized environmental organizations that have been active for decades. Additionally, the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, formed in 1989, works to establish clean and renewable energy technologies. In 1996, the town had the first majority Green party members voted to the City Council. And in 1997, Arcata had one of the first American bicycle lending libraries.

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