Virtual Guidebook to the Northern California Coast and Coast Ranges
Eel River Plain
Humboldt County California


The Eel River has filled in a broad valley mouth where it reaches the Pacific. This area, a triangle about five miles per side, consists of natural wetlands and expansive dairy fields, plus the Eel River and its estuary. Loleta is a tiny dairy town on the north side, Ferndale a much larger one on the south edge. Fortuna is a lumber town, located where the Eel River valley widens out into the plain.

The famous Fernbridge crosses the Eel River to link Ferndale to the highway and former railway on the east bank. This remarkable bridge, built in 1911, has withstood floods and earthquakes. The "1000-year flood" of December 1964 left it unscathed while washing away hundreds of other bridges. Though narrow it still carries a busy stream of traffic.



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Though tiny compared to the original Loleta dairy, cheese is still made here

(July 15, 2011)


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The mighty Fernbridge withstood the thousand-year flood of 1964

(July 15, 2011)


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Fortuna's pleasant old-fashioned Main Street

(July 15, 2011)


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Dairy cows in the rich pastures around Ferndale

(July 15, 2011)


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The Riverwalk, along the Eel River at Fortuna

(January 20, 2008)


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Centerville Beach at the mouth of the Eel River

(January 20, 2008)


Next Locality: Ferndale