The railroad came in bits and pieces. They were originally built to haul trees to the mills and the finished wood products to the boat landings, but as the area developed were also used to haul freight, farm products, and of course, passengers. The Pacific Lumber Company had built a small section from Scotia to Alton and then to its mill in Carlotta. The completion of the tunnel through Table Bluff in 1885 allowed the Eel River and Eureka Railroad to make daily scheduled runs from Eureka to Alton, where passengers and freight would switch to Pacific Lumber Company trains for the journey to Scotia and points south. Before long the track was extended to Dyerville, at the confluence of the Main Stem and South Fork of the Eel River, and local trains made stops at all the small settlements along their tracks, bringing news and mail, picking up farm produce and passengers.
By 1893 a railroad depot had been built in Fortuna. Work had been started to link the North Coast's railroads with the rest of the world, and on Dec. 1, 1914, the first regular train from out of the area passed through Fortuna at 9:20 p.m. and arrived in Eureka at 10 p.m. Fortuna became a regular stop between Eureka and San Francisco, which gave Fortuna a direct link to the rest of the world as it allowed travelers easy access to the area. Trains also became the fastest way for mail to be transported between towns.
The railroad put Fortuna in a perfect situation by having the rail line to town as well as having local roads to Ferndale and other towns to the north and south. By having connections in every direction, Fortuna began to grow and the other smaller towns in the area began to lose their prestige. People even began to take the train to Fortuna instead of taking the ocean steamers to Eureka.
The old railroad depot was moved to Rohner Park in the mid 1970's and is now a free museum in Rohner Park that chronicles Fortuna's railroad history and its contributions to the town.
- from the History and Business Directory of Humboldt County, Nov. 1890 -
Lot M. Brown, Prop'r
Alton, (Junction) California
Opposite Depot, Junction E. R. and P. L. Co's R. R.
SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATIONS FOR FAMILIES AND COMMERCIAL TRAVELERS
$1 TO $1.50 PER DAY
Tourists, Pleasure-seekers and Sportsmen can reach every point in the County more readily from Alton, than from any other location.