Ican relate to the Citizens Dock at the harbor. It's still working hard as it turns 60 this year. Tomorrow is the official anniversary.
Like much of our local history the back stories are fading away with the generation before me. But thanks to one man's scrapbook and his son's desire to share it, I've got some history about the Citizens Dock I'd like to share.
In 1951, Crescent City was named "The Town of the Month" by Good
Housekeeping Magazine (the clipping does not show which month). The
article by Katharine Best and Katharine Hillyer begins, "The place was
Crescent City, a 3.000-person town pocketed dramatically between the
giant-redwood forests of northwestern California and the rugged,
rock-strewn coast of the Pacific Ocean."
The authors paint a picture of disappointed businessmen and women
whose bid for a government-financed dock was rejected in the fall of
1949 for the fifth time in 32 years. The government wouldn't put up
money for a dock because Crescent City didn't have the business to
justify it. Crescent City argued that without a dock, it would never get
Somebody-no one remembers who-said, "Let's build our own dock," and
"At that moment civic lightning struck Crescent City."
"The fever got us," said Mrs. Emma Cooper, county clerk.
A $10,000 quota was set and within two weeks, $17,000 was raised.
Over 200 volunteers stepped up. Hotel Lauff offered free lodging to
out-of-town workers. Local businesses donated gasoline and lumber.
Employees of Brownie's joined a payroll contribution plan; the Shamrock
Cafandeacute; gave free lunches to workers and the bus station served free
coffee. The local branch of the Bank of America gave, besides cash, the
services of one teller each day for dock work.
There were benefits and auctions. A department store clerk even
donated a bolt of red fabric to use as danger flags.
On March 18, 1950, Citizens Dock was finished. It was a $200,000
project that took $17,000 in cash and countless hours of donated labor.
Mayor Al Manuel declared March 18 an annual legal holiday (what happened
A day-long celebration included fishing boat races, a parade, a crab
feed and the naming of Miss Citizens Dock, 16-year-old Gail Barnum. The
dock party with 5,000 revelers lasted into the night.
"On March 19," recalled county judge Alyce Moseley, "you could shoot a
cannon down Main Street and not hit anybodyandhellip;everybody was getting some
sleep, at last."
The magazine article continues, "Today Crescent Citizens look with
almost tearful pride at their dock-a 900-foot pier projecting into the
blue waters of Crescent Harbor and right-angling into a fisherman's
pier, a lumber wharfhead and a loading platform. And they gaze
sentimentally at the big, handsome, redwood-bound scrapbook encased in
glass at the Chamber of Commerce office on Second Street. On its pages
are listed the names of the people who contributed to the building of
Citizens Dock. 'There are more than seven hundred names in that book,'
says Bill Mason, local realtor. 'It represents, without a doubt, the
most stupendous example of civic cooperation this region has ever
The redwood-bound scrapbook was lost, presumably in the tsunami. The
man who crafted it was cabinet maker Frank Burtschell. He also kept a
personal scrapbook and that's where his son Bob found the magazine
article from 1951.
The authors paint a bright future for Crescent City in their closing
paragraphs: "A lot of new things are being planned for Crescent City.
There's a highway beautification plan presently under way, in which
Crescent City's women, working in teams, are cleaning underbrush and
planting seasonal blossoms so that throughout the year color and beauty
will beckon motorists toward the little city. Downtown, too, is being
spruced up. One section of Second Street has become a gay stretch of
green, blue, pink and yellow store fronts."
Bill Mason, who gave up his real estate business to serve as the
Citizens Dock Committee's unpaid financial chief said, "We have our
river. We have our trees. We have our rugged shore line and our
crescent-shaped bay. Now all we need to do is make ourselves as
good-looking as our surroundings."
Sound familiar? Thank you, Bob, for sharing your father's scrapbook