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Ship building was one of Humboldt County's main industries in the late 19th and early 20th century. Humboldt Bay was an ideal location because of the abundance of suitable wood (mostly Douglas fir and Port Orford cedar) and the need to ship our much desired redwood to markets around the world.
The first of many shipyards opened during the 1850s. In 1873, Danish ship builder Hans Bendixsen bought the former Fay brothers shipyard in Fairhaven on the north peninsula. Before closing in 1901, the Bendixsen yard launched over 100 ships, both sail and steam powered.
That Shipyard changed hands several times before being purchased by James Rolph in 1917. Rolph's prospered due to the ship building demands of WWI but closed after the war. Ship building revived briefly during the Second World War when the Chicago Bridge and Iron works built floating drydocks at the foot of Eureka's Washington Street.