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Famed author Jack London among past tourists

Jack London and his wife traveled through Del Norte County so he could write articles about northern California. (Photo submitted by The Del Norte County Historical Society).
Jack London and his wife traveled through Del Norte County so he could write articles about northern California. (Photo submitted by The Del Norte County Historical Society).

By Hilary Corrigan

Triplicate staff writer

Crescent City's reputation as a place that tourists pass through held true back in 1911 when Jack London stopped on a horse-drawn carriage tour of the Northcoast.

"The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" author would die five years later, after suffering various health problems.

Born in San Francisco in 1876, London grew up in Oakland and often visited the Oakland Free Library, where librarian Ina Coolbrith – later the state's first poet laureate – would guide him as an avid reader.

As a teenager and during his 20s, London wrote stories and learned to sail, worked as a janitor and seaman, among other jobs, and traveled across the country and the world. He sought gold in Alaska, spent time as a newspaperman and took part in the Socialist Party.

His story about the Northcoast would recount a trip different from others he'd taken. He and his wife, Charmian Kittredge, steered a carriage drawn by four horses along mountain roads from their Sonoma Valley property into Oregon.

"Charmian and I decided it was about time we knew what we had in our own county and the neighboring ones," London wrote.

Only, they had never steered a carriage drawn by four horses along mountain roads. "Navigating Four Horses North of the Bay" recounts funny bits about London's own mistakes and the quirks of Prince the Rogue, the Paint-Removing Outlaw, the Thin-Shanked Thoroughbred and the Rabbit Jumper.

It also describes the Northcoast's scenery, history, seafood and climate.

"These comfortably large counties!" London wrote, noting Humboldt's size as three times larger than the state of Rhode Island. "Here is a climate that breeds vigour."

A mural showing the writer and his wife in the carriage passing through Crescent City, on their way to Oregon, covers a wall of the Daily Triplicate building.

Reach Hilary Corrigan at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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