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JPR Feature
Ferndale: Victorian Village   
Monday May 30, 2005
By Dawna Curler

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

They called the stately houses "Butterfat Palaces" and the town "Cream City" because of its prosperous dairy background.  The quaint Victorian Village of Ferndale, California, is still a thriving community and the charming historic homes and commercial buildings have qualified it as a California Landmark.

Surrounded by rich pasture lands a short distance southwest of Eureka, Ferndale became a profitable dairy community in the later nineteenth century. The dairy farmers, many of them Danes with dairying backgrounds from the old country, started a number of creameries in the area. Their butter, considered the finest in the state brought high prices in San Francisco. Adapting to the times, early in the twentieth century many small creameries consolidated into a few larger ones. A number of dairy industry innovations came from Ferndale dairymen including the first butter wrapping and cutting machines, the first dry-milk processing on the Pacific Coast, and the first milk tank trucks.

An inland port for ocean-going vessels built on the nearby Salt River added to Ferndale's growth and prosperity making it a major trade center. For a time Ferndale was the largest city in Humboldt County.

Well known for its Victorian architecture, Ferndale does a brisk tourist trade today but dairying is still the community's largest industry.

Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

"The Victorian Village of Ferndale in California's Romantic Redwood Empire," website sponsored by Ferndale Chamber of Commerce includes contemporary and historical information about Ferndale, California.

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