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The illustration on this page, showing the lumber-making headquarters of the Eel River Valley Lumber company at Newburg, will give a faint idea of the magnitude of its operations. The location is a romantic one, being in a basin surrounded on three sides by mountains, the mill settlement overlooking a portion of the productive farm of Mr. G. W. Byard. Standing at the mill office the stranger would puzzled to know how a logging railroad has found its way one and one-half mile farther to the eastward into what was an undisturbed wilderness 15 years ago, farther than the researches of government and local surveyors are concerned. Even now the eastern view from the mill settlement is a wild but enchanting one, one which any lover of the grand in nature could not drink in and dwell upon with real pleasure.
The railroad now reaches a point not far distant from Felt's Springs, though at a lower elevation. The writer well remembers the winding and tedious journey to the Springs on the occasion of the opening of the fine hotel which the proprietor had caused to be reared, less than a quarter of a century ago. If any one had told him then that a railroad would be built to within as close proximity as that of the Eel River Valley Lumber company has already done, he would solemnly and assuredly have considered the utterance a legitimate result of a dazed fancy. But the road has not yet reached its terminal limit, and there is little doubt that in time outreaches from it will enable Elk River hamlets to listen to the echoes of the locomotive whistle on the Eel River Valley Lumber company's railroad. The region into which the road has already reached is a wilderness of magnificent timber, as is all the surrounding country for scores of miles surrounding it. The era of advancement and achievement has just fairly commenced, and we can only wonder what even another decade may bring to Humboldt county. This extension of a railroad to a point nearer the clouds has been done under the immediate direction of superintendent H. D. Cousins, and bespeaks the unerring and invincible go-aheadativeness and judgment which have characterized the gentleman's career ever since he became a citizen of Humboldt county.
There are two things which the permanent residents of ,Newburg feel they are greatly in need of and entitled to, but whether, under existing conditions, their hopes can be realized is a question. These wants are a post office and public school. Newburg is in Fortuna school district and the pupils of that place are required to come one and one-half miles to school. But as yet there are not permanently located children enough to warrant asking for the establishment of a school district. As to a post office, the Government dictation as to the matter of distance between post offices would probably preclude the possibility of a successful appeal to the department. The coming years may change the existing condition of things to such an extent that the wishes of Newburg people will be gratified.
Until the arrival of the highway and the railroad, the only way to get in and out of Humboldt County was by sea. When sailboats were replaced with steamships that traveled up and down the coast following a schedule, marketing boomed and the population experienced a tremendous increase. However, it wasn't without its dangers.
Theodore Dwight Felt, physician and surgeon from Massachusetts, came to California during the gold rush to seek his fortune, but like many others, he soon realized there was little possibility of a real bonanza. News of Humboldt County brought him to the rolling hills bordering the redwood forest at a place called Goose Lake Prairie [Hydesville]. Here he took a claim, built a residence, and about 1851 established Felt's Springs (located in the Headwaters Forest Reserve), a sanatorium for the weak and infirm. As the only practicing physician in the county outside Eureka, his services were much in demand, but unlike the fly-by-night "doctors" who often followed the frontier, Dr. Felt was an able physician. In the spring of 1866, the Eel River Jockey Club, under the enthusiastic leadership of Dr. Felt and other ardent horsemen, bought a piece of land from B. F. Jameson and laid out a mile-long race track. Located along the north side of A. P. Campton's Lane [Kenmar Road] and just west of the main county road through Rohnerville, this track became the meeting place of some of California's finest horses. Rohnerville Road was also called the Eureka to Hydesville Highway.