By Nicholas Grube
Triplicate staff writer
Before cars, semis and RVs cruised up and down the Redwood Highway and U.S. Hwy. 199, horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches traversed the country-side carrying people and goods throughout the Northcoast.
But instead of service stations, truck stops and mechanics, Del Norte County was home to livery stables where people could have their pack animals ¬Ė horses and mules ¬Ė cared for between arduous treks through the coastal mountains and waterways.
Two liveries stood out in Del Norte's history through the late 1800s and early 1900s: the Breen Brothers Livery and Feed Stable and the Eclipse Livery and Feed Stable.
The Breen Brothers Livery and Feed Stable, also known as Crescent City Livery and Feed, was owned by Will and Jack Breen. It was located on Third and K streets.
In 1908, the Breens bought the Frantz Livery Stables and renamed it the Crescent City Livery and Feed. They ran stagecoaches from Crescent City to Grants Pass, Requa and Brookings, but one of their primary duties was delivering mail to the outlying communities. The Breens' livery was also the first in the community to switch from storing and caring for horses to storing automobiles.
The Eclipse Livery and Feed Stable, on the other hand, was owned by a former Iowan, Thomas J.T. Berry.
When Berry was 20, he helped a doctor move from the Midwest out to Crescent City. Berry left after finishing the job, only to return in 1878 and work in Francis Burtschell's livery.
Over the next 12 or so years, Berry continued to work in Burtschell's livery until he took over and renamed it to the Eclipse Livery and Feed Stable.
The livery was located on on I Street between Second and Third Streets. When Berry didn't have enough room to keep horses on the premises he would send them to his ranch which was located a few miles north of Smith River.
Aside from being a livery owner and operator, Berry was also a politician, being elected to the California State Assembly in 1901. He was re-elected as a representative of Del Norte County in 1907.