Wednesday, August 27, 2014


This photo shows the Carson Mansion in Eureka, California.  It was built by lumber baron William M. Carson from 1884-1886, in part to keep his mill workers busy during a slowdown in the lumber industry.  It encompasses a variety of Victorian architecture styles, with the Queen Anne style being the predominant one.  Although it may be the most photographed example of the Gilded Age in America, it is not available for public tours, because it has been a private club since 1950.

The Carson Mansion, along with this "Pink Lady" across the street, can be found in downtown Eureka---a place where the entire city is a State Historic Landmark!

I was mesmerized by the way the evening sun was making the house glow, as it passed through the stained glass windows, and onto the intricately carved posts of the front porch.

There are hundreds of significant Victorian homes in Eureka, and all of them are made from the building material that made this place famous---REDWOOD!

Downtown Eureka is adjacent to a waterway, where sailboats can be moored, that may find their way out to the Pacific, by navigating through Humboldt Bay---the second largest bay in California.
The Old Town Historic District is a lovely place to watch the sun fade into the West, as it sinks into the Pacific.

No visit to the Eureka area is complete, without a trip to the Samoa Cookhouse ( ).  My first visit there was about ten years ago, on St. Patrick's Day.  Not surprisingly, corned beef and cabbage was on the menu that day!  The occasion for this visit was a Road Scholar trip I took ( ) to hike in the redwood forests around Eureka, California. 

Since it was opened in 1890, the Samoa Cookhouse has been serving their food "family style", rather than "a la carte".  Their goal is for no one to leave hungry!

Just like in the old days, meals are still served on long tables covered with oil cloth.  During the height of the lumber industry activity of the region, every large or small logging/mill operation in redwood country had a cookhouse.  The Samoa Cookhouse is significant, because it is the last surviving cookhouse in the West.

Besides the main dining room, there are smaller adjacent rooms where private functions or groups can dine together.  This photo shows our group getting a history lesson on the saws that were adorning the walls of the room.  We found out that the term "Misery Whip" was originally the nickname for a very long cross saw.

My 2014
visit to Samoa Cookhouse was LOTS more enjoyable than my first visit a decade ago
 because I was able to enjoy the meal with my son!

Fresh baked bread is still a staple at Samoa Cookhouse. I read that in the early history of the cookhouse, the bakers were some of the favorite people of the local school children, because they would often have enough cookies and treats to share with the youngsters of Samoa.

The table setting for a cookhouse always called for turning the drinking cup upside down on the plate, to keep out dust and insects.  However, I read that sometimes (especially if one of the lumbermen had been rude to a waitress), the lumberjack, might lift their cup to have water come streaming out of it, after it had been carefully placed there by a prank-pulling waitress or coworker.

One of our Road Scholar participants was having a birthday, so the Cookhouse staff made the extra effort of bringing him a piece of delicious cake, complete with burning birthday candles!

The Samoa Cookhouse Museum is under the same roof as the dining establishment, and displays a multitude of the tools that used to be used by the loggers and mill workers that made up their clientele.

Many of the tools were ones I did not recognize, but fortunately, there were placards that explained the purpose and use of the various pieces of logging history.

The walls are covered with historic pictures, such as this one.  I counted one dozen full grown men standing on top of this tree trunk!  That was what I call a TREEmendous-sized platform for a group photograph!

Since I have a history of working in institutional group feeding, I was very much interested in the stoves, steamers, mixers, grinders, scales, and other cooking equipment they displayed in the museum. 

In the hospitals where I used to work, we were always faced with how to keep the food warm, before it was served to the patient.  This old piece of equipment showed how the Samoa cookhouse workers achieved that goal, before the advent of electric food carts.
Most commercial kitchens had a solid wood meat block that looked similar to this one on display at the Samoa Cookhouse.  Back in the last century, I happened to be working at a hospital kitchen in Arkansas, during the time that the State Health Department made a rule that institutional kitchens had to get rid of their wooden meat blocks, due to the possibility of them harboring germs that could foster food-borne illnesses.  Therefore, I had the opportunity to purchase the old meat block from that commercial kitchen, and I still have it today!  However, since there was no room for it in my kitchen, the legs were cut off to make it a coffee table.  It is the most SOLID coffee table you are ever going to see!

Since the Somoa Cookhouse also fed longshoremen, the building adjacent to the cookhouse showcases artifacts from the sea.  This giant bell buoy makes it easy to see why sometimes shipwrecked mariners were able to survive by climbing onto the platform until they were rescued.

The propeller from one of the shipping fleets is also on display.

smaller boat like the one shown here could be used to ferry men back and forth from a big cargo vessel, into shore to have their meals at the Samoa Cookhouse!

Seeing the work "maritime" on the sign for this museum is the visual aid I am using for one of my First Place 4 Health( ) memory verses that says  "But I trust in you, O LORD: I say, 'You are my God.'  My times are in your hands."  (Psalm 31:14-15)  That means my maritimes are in your hands, my merry times are in your hands, and my sad times are in your hands, because I trust in you!  It is a trust that gives me "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia