Gasquet named for French founder

March 21, 2007 11:00 pm

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

The village of Gasquet takes its name from French immigrant Horace Gasquet, who arrived in Crescent City from France in .

The village's name, however, is not the immigrant's only legacy. He is in history books as having been quite the entrepreneur, one with a hotel, general store, farm, barn, blacksmith, town bar and winery to his credit.

But it's his toll road that linked California to Oregon that put Msr. Gasquet into the history books.

The Gasquet Toll Road was built mostly by Chinese labor between 1881 and 1886, after the county's board of supervisors granted Gasquet permission to undertake the project.

Until the road was completed, the town of Gasquet's only link was overland to Crescent City and on to San Francisco by sea.

The northeast overland route was needed to help ensure the county's continued growth and development, and Gasquet's Toll Road provided the link so sought after in the late 1800s.

Described as a "corduroy road," it was created by laying a bed of timers across its width on a surface of dirt and gravel. Its route was along the forks of the Smith River, up the middle fork on the "left hand bank" for about 4 miles, then across the river.

From its crossing, the road went to the mouth of Patrick's Creek, up to Shelly Creek and crossed into Oregon about 3 miles east of the Robin's nest.

Total length? Twenty miles.

The road has retained its original composition and construction, although it may have been repaired during the years with dirt and gravel.

It's still usable, although its drawbacks are the narrow gauge and windy path.

Prior to his corduroy road, Gasquet built a mule trail, one of the first of its type, to the interior and into Oregon Territory. He later built a second mule trail to Happy Camp on the Klamath River, where he opened another mercantile store.