Fortuna, California

  By Ron Souza

Fortuna is located on US Highway 101 in west-central Humbolt County along the northeast shore of the Eel River, just 9 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The town was established as a mill for the nearby redwood forests and named Springville because of its close proximity to the numerous springs in the area. Once the town grew large enough to have its own post office, it was discovered that there was already a Springville California the southern part of the state. Residents petitioned the state legislature for the name, Fortuna and in 1888 the name became official.


Fortuna means “fortune” in Spanish and “chance” in Latin and was chosen because of its location in relation to the spectacular redwood forests, the beautiful Eel River, the gorgeous valley along the river and the nearness of the Pacific Ocean, enough for all those “fortunate” enough to take a “chance” on.


Although agriculture played a major role in the development of the area and remains a player in today’s economy, it is the lumber industry that has been the main source of income for many years. Though the lumber industry was a healthy economic entity for the city, it wasn’t until the Eel River and Eureka Railroad elected to place a station in Fortuna that the future of the city was sealed.


The area is a testimony to Northern California’s early history and a Good Sam Club RV Park with special Camping Discounts for members will place you right in the middle of where it all occurred.


Fortuna has retained its nickname of “The Friendly City” since the beginning, although it is also known as “Sunny Fortuna” because of its wonderful Mediterranean climate. The city is host to many festivals and other cultural events of which a very popular one is the Annual Fortuna Rodeo. Each year, thousands of auto enthusiasts arrive in Fortuna for the Redwood AutoXpo, The Xpo features a huge collection of vintage automobiles, vintage rock & roll music and pink poodle skirts with bobby socks, a real nostalgic trek into the past.


A very historic structure in Fortuna is the city’s 1893 Train Depot. The depot has become a museum of Fortuna’s past and the history of the Eel River Valley. Exhibits include a collection of memorabilia from the old railroad days, the logging industry, local farming, river fishing and the city’s endurance during the war years.


RV Travel to Fortuna and its surroundings is an incredible opportunity to walk among spectacular ancient Redwoods, trees that are more than 2,500 years old. It is a humbling experience to stand beneath a tree that has been growing for more than 25 centuries and has endured harsh weather, devastating fires, earthquakes and the lumber industry and still stands tall and proud today. Enjoy your visit!

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