By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

In the late 1800s a Del Norte County dairy farmer was instrumental in bringing travelers from Eureka to Crescent City.

Louis DeMartin built a wagon road that stretched from Crescent City to Requa and was part of the Klamath Wagon Road, which was completed in 1894, that brought stages from Humboldt to Del Norte.

The road went through DeMartin's ranch at Wilson Creek and included a bridge that he constructed over the waterway. At the time of construction, DeMartin paid $75 to erect the bridge. For people who used the road through his property, DeMartin would charge a 50 cents tax for every $100 of value that moved through his land.

To earn even more money and capitalize off of the Klamath Wagon Road, DeMartin built a new home on his ranch that doubled as a hostel in 1889. Travelers could eat and sleep at the hostel for a mere 50 cents, 25 cents for a meal and 25 cents for a bed.

As a rancher and a dairy farmer, DeMartin had thousands of animals. At one time he owned 3,000 head of sheep, but later switched to raising hogs and cattle after bears and wild dogs killed many of the sheep. DeMartin also raised various other crops on his land, with one of his primary crops being potatoes.

By 1880 DeMartin had 68 cows and was making a lot of butter, which he sold in Crescent City and even shipped to San Francisco. To bring his butter to Crescent City, DeMartin would hire six Yurok Indians to steer a large redwood canoe from his ranch in Wilson Creek to the Crescent City harbor.

DeMartin died in 1907. His sons and his wife, Agnes, operated the farm until selling it in 1944. Today the DeMartin home is located in the Redwood National Park 12 miles south of Crescent City at the foot of Last Chance Grade off of U.S. Hwy. 101, and still operates as a hostel.

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