The Clarke Historical Museum, 240 E St. (tel. 707/443-1947; www.clarkemuseum.org), has a fine collection of Native American baskets and other artifacts. The other popular attraction is the Carson Mansion (on the corner of Second and M sts.), built from 1884 to 1886 for lumber baron William Carson. A three-story conglomeration of ornamentation, its design is a mélange of styles -- Queen Anne, Italianate, Stick, and Eastlake. It took 100 men more than 2 years to build it. Today it's a private club, so you can only marvel at the exterior of this 18-room mansion, said to be the most photographed Victorian home in the U.S. Across the street stands the Pink Lady, designed for William Carson as a wedding present for his son. Both buildings testify to the wealth that was once made in Eureka's lumber trade. As early as 1856, seven sawmills produced 2 million board feet of lumber per month. A restored building now houses the Morris Graves Museum of Art, 636 F St. (tel. 707/442-0278; www.humboldtarts.org), with four galleries showcasing local artists as well as traveling exhibitions.
For a good read, drop in at the Booklegger, 402 Second St., at E Street (tel. 707/445-1344), a fantastic bookstore in Old Town with thousands of used paperbacks (especially mysteries, Westerns, and science fiction), children's books, and cookbooks.
Humboldt Bay, where the town stands, was discovered by settlers in 1850. To protect the fledgling community from local Native Americans, the government established Fort Humboldt 3 years later. Ulysses S. Grant was stationed here for 5 months until he resigned after disputes with his commanding officer about his drinking. Troops abandoned the fort in 1870. Today a self-guided trail takes visitors past a series of logging exhibits, a reconstructed surgeon's quarters, and a restored fort hospital, now a museum of Native American artifacts and military and pioneer paraphernalia. Fort Humboldt State Historic Park is at 3431 Fort Ave. (tel. 707/445-6567). Admission is free; it's open daily from 8am to 5pm.