As miners seeking gold moved into Del Norte and Humboldt counties, the distance between them and the supplies they needed became a sore point. Some of the mines were clustered near the Oregon border.
The distance to the port cities of Trinidad and Humboldt Bay probably seemed longer each time miners traveled it. In eyeballing the area for a likely supply-oriented town, residents hit on the road and anchorage south and east of Point St. George — laying out a town there during spring 1853 and calling it Crescent City after the name of its beach.
The town was born when A. M. Rosborough bought a land warrant in J.F. Wendell’s name for the 320 acres of land that became Crescent City. T.P. Robinson surveyed the area that month and divided it into town lots, according to “A History, Del Norte County, California,” written by A.J. Bledsoe and printed by The Humboldt Times in Eureka during 1881.
Twenty-eight people bought lots in the new town for prices ranging from $100-$1,000. Of them, seven had invested in an expedition to Point St. George.
“These gentlemen should be looked upon as the founders of Crescent City,” wrote Bledsoe. He included F.E. Weston, G.W. Jordan, A.K. Ward, R. Humphreys, P.M. Peters, and J.K. Irving in the group.
Because Wendell’s land grant was later declared void, the U.S. Government claimed the land. Those who had invested came close to losing their lots and money but were spared the loss when the Common Council of Crescent City bought the land at $2.50 per acre and issued investors certificates of title.
The area soon grew from a small collection of tents to “a good-sized town,” writes Bledsoe.
Workers opened a road into the interior, and the town immediately went into the business of supplying miners. The area boomed that summer, quickly bypassing Trinidad in size and logistic importance.
Large numbers of settlers, attracted by the area’s mineral and agriculture resources, soon arrived. Although inland mines didn’t produce as much as those of other parts of California, they yielded enough gold to whet miners’ appetites.
So legislators acted in February 1856 to make Orleans Bar the county seat for Klamath County, which encompassed what later would become Del Norte County. Although voters in Klamath favored the idea by a large majority, Crescent City’s residents found it a lot of trouble to transact any business there because of the mountains that separated the two places.
In 1857 legislators carved Del Norte County from the northern portion of Klamath, making Crescent City the new county’s seat. Twenty-three years later, the state’s legislators approved a measure annexing the territory of Klamath to the counties of Siskiyou and Humboldt, disincorporating one of the old California counties completely.