The Yukok have lived here for generations, inhabiting a coastal strip from Little River in today’s Humboldt County to Del Norte County, and inland along the Klamath River. Though some villages were seasonal, others were permanent settlements where major ceremonies took place.
From several Yurok villages within what is now Humboldt Lagoons State Park, people fished for salmon, trout, and steelhead, as well as marine mammals and shellfish.
Canoes of hollowed-out redwoods carried the Yurok between villages and food sources. The Yurok also established a system of trails to connect far-flung settlements across rugged terrain.
First European Contact
The Yurok people’s first documented contact with non-Indians was in 1775, with the arrival of Spanish explorers at the nearby town of T’surai (near present-day Trinidad).
With the discovery of gold along the Trinity River in 1850, the Yuroks’ way of life nearly came to an end. Conflicts between the Yuroks and many Euro-Americans forced the relocation of the Yurok to distant reservations. By the turn of the century, two thirds of the population had been decimated, due to dietary changes and unfamiliar diseases.
Today, the Yuroks have made a remarkable recovery. They’re the most populous tribe in California, with more than 5,500 members. The majority live in Del Norte and Humboldt counties. The tribe has actively pursued cultural and language revitalization, viewing Humboldt Lagoons State Park as part of their heritage.
Farming and Ranching
In the early 1900s, early farmers drained Dry Lagoon. They attempted to grow several types of crops, but none proved economical. Dairy ranches were established along the shores of Stone Lagoon. Later, when Highway 101 was improved, a motel-restaurant called the "Little Red Hen" was built next to the lagoon. This business operated until 1979. In the 1980s, the building was made into a museum, bookstore, and park office the Stone Lagoon Visitor Center.