Ferndale is situated in Humboldt County, California. For the 2010 census, the population was,1371, down 9 from the 2000 census. The city features numerous well preserved Victorian retail facades and homes. Ferndale is the northern entryway to California's Lost Coast and the city, sits on the edge of a wide plain close to the mouth of the Eel River, is also situated close to the Coast Redwood forest preserves.
Ferndale California Main Street
Before Americans arrived, Ferndale was a glade of giant ferns, many over six feet tall, and encompassed by birch, willow, Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, drift redwood, swampy land and windswept prairies. The southern Wiyot people populated the area, centered along the Eel River where they captured lamprey eels, salmon and sturgeon using iris leaf angle nets, gathered shellfish along the mouth of the river, while cultivating a California tobacco species until Willard Allard, Seth Louis Shaw and his sibling Stephen W. Shawi founded the town in the summer of 1852.
Seth Shaw settled near Main and Lewis streets where he started development of the historic Shaw House on his property in 1854. The Shaw House was the region's first polling place in 1854, the post office in 1860 and the courthouse in 1863. Seth Shaw was both the justice of the peace and the postmaster, and his home served for some social affairs despite the fact that it was not completed until 1866. After having been away for two years, Stephen Shaw sold his land in 1856 to Welsh-born Francis (1818-1877) who later built the city's water system using pipes channels initially laid in 1875.
Other small communities established around Ferndale, include: Arlynda Corners, Centerville, Port Kenyon, Waddington, and Grizzly Bluff. Ferndale produce was shipped through Centerville and transfered to anchored ships offshore before the docks opened at Port Kenyon in 1876. The first coal oil shipment from the Union Mattole Oil Company was transported through Ferndale to San Francisco in 1865.
While the most earliest settlers spoke English hailing from England, New England, Canada or Ireland, floods of settlers came to Ferndale from China, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Portugal.