California's last frontier was settled in the spring of 1850 by a group of Trinity River miners, led by the explorer Dr. Josiah Gregg. Having been discovered by land in December 1849, ships from San Francisco landed in Humboldt Bay, bringing men seeking opportunity and founded a town that would be known as "Unioin" for its first ten years.
Arcata would serve as a supply center for the interior gold mining districts, and with a horse-drawn car on a wood-track road extending from the Plaza to the wharf, it has the distinction of having the first operational railway system in California.
WIth dreams of gold bringing in men, the area's vast timber richness sustained development. The towering redwood giants prompted a technological evolution for cutting, moving, and milling these arbol mammoths, resulting in a local unique social structure, labor force, and economy.
The first local newspaper would be printed in the 1850's, public water and fire in 1884, and electricity the year after. Humboldt State Normal School came into being in 1914 and the Redwood Highway in 1925.