The History of Fortuna and the Eel River Valley

Gold is Where You Find It

Peeler crew removing bark from redwood log.

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Peeler Crew Removing Redwood Bark

It wasn't just the loggers and lumber barons that first settled in the area. Many Eel River Valley settlers were originally drawn to California by the prospects of gold, but they soon returned to the farming life they had known in the East, settling the rich lands of the valley to raise livestock, grains, and a variety of fruits. The valley's lush ground yielded large crops of fruit and vegetables. In addition to being used locally, they were also shipped to San Francisco. The dairy industry took an early foothold in the area and became the area's premier farming occupation.

The region boasted prime resources - big trees, salmon, and land. People of different cultures settled here, to work in the fish canneries on the lower Eel River, build roads and railroads. In addition to logging, farming, and dairying, commercial fishing on the lower Eel provided a living for many. It was a very industrious time for the territory of California. The area was quickly settled by the Italians, Swiss and Portuguese who brought their work ethics with them. Many local descendants can trace their lineage to these immigrants of a century ago.


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