The Second Burning of Crescent City’s Catholic Church

By 1854, the population of Crescent City numbered over eight hundred inhabitants.  That same year,  Father James Croke, who first visited our little town in 1853 had “not yet discovered many Catholics” but wrote to the Archbishop of his plans to build a church in Jacksonville, Oregon.

This church, he wrote, would serve “all mining districts for sixty to seventy miles around.”  In the years to follow, Croke would periodically offer Mass while on his way to Oregon.

During the first decade of the city’s development, several priests passed through town, offering Mass either in the old courthouse or in private homes.  During the early to mid-1860s, Father Thomas Crinnian, a pastor in Eureka, would make the three-day trip on mule-back to offer Mass once a month and then return to his parish.

By November 1868, Father Maurice Hickey, the new pastor in Eureka, along with Catholic pioneer Maurice Wenger, purchased an abandoned Methodist Church and in 1869, Crescent City had its first Catholic Church.  By October, Father Leon Haupts became the first resident pastor of the new parish and, along with Father Rooney, Haupts conducted regular services in Trinidad and Smith River.

In November 1873, Father Michael Walwrath replaced the old church with a new and larger one that provided enough room in the back for school classes, which included education for the poor and Native American children.  Walwrath was so devoted that he became known as the “Indian Missionary”.

Shortly after Father Nolan arrived in 1915, the church burned down and another was soon built, however, in April 1932 that church burned down as well.  On April 27, 1935, the fourth Catholic church was dedicated by Bishop Armstrong.

When Nolan passed away in August 1944, Monsignor P.L. O’Loughlin was sent as a replacement.  The Monsignor was no stranger to the area as in 1941 he began the construction of Saint Robert and Anne in the townsite of Klamath.

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