Whale of a time (Sunday)


I got a call last night from my friend Steve Lazar, the Postcard King. He was hoping I’d help get the word out for this special historical film screening/lecture happening Sunday at the Miniplex in Richard’s Goat about the history of whaling in Humboldt. He said he’d send me some postcards, which fortunately didn’t take much time since it didn’t involve any stamps or the Post Office stuff like that, because, well, we live in a digital era, where, for better or worse, we can send instant postcards via FB-Message.


I have to admit, I don’t know much about local whaling, and IMHO, it was sad that these giants of the ocean were once hunted. Without going off on too much of a tangent, I think it’s possible that they are smarter than us. The fact that they don’t walk on land or have opposable thumbs or other things that supposedly make us superior never gave us the right to kill them. What do suppose they think of us?


Anyway, returning to my conversation with Steve, he had his Historical Society friend Morgan send me an email with some P.R.


As a fundraiser for our digital archive project, Historical Society staff will present archival film footage of whaling crews on the high seas in pursuit of whales off the Humboldt coast. Film footage includes shots of the Eureka whaling station at Fields Landing, the last operating whaling station in the country. Recorded in the 1940s, the original reel-to-reel film will be shown using a vintage projector.
Running vintage cellulose film on an original projector is dangerous business, but not to worry – this film has already been preserved digitally. This screening is a fundraiser to support the digitization of other valuable resources unique to the Humboldt County Historical Society collection.
Historical Society archivist and historian James Garrison will provide live narration and historical presentation about the Eureka Whaling Station at Fields Landing and the history of whaling in Northern Humboldt. There will be two presentation times, one from 4-5pm and one from 6-7pm.

There will be ready-to-frame photo-prints for purchase. All profits from photo-print sales will directly fund our digitization project.

Thank you for helping us spread the word!

Best Regards, Morgan Harvey

Humboldt County Historical Society Research Assistant

A little more about the whaling station at Fields Landing can be found on the H-Society website. The station opened June 1940, with the ship “Gleaner” bringing in the first whales. “From the start the station was promoted as a tourist attraction. Sightseers paid a small admission fee to watch a whale being butchered. Local newspapers announced when a whale was on deck, and people arrived dressed up to have their photographs taken with the dead whales.”


“This girl is standing in the mouth of a Finback Whale, her hands resting on in the baleen plates in the whale’s upper jaw.”

Again, knowing as much as we know now about whales, it’s hard to imagine what’s going through the heads of people posing with freshly butchered whales, but whatever.

Here’s a clip about whaling further down the Pacific Coast. Steve wanted to save the rare footage of local whaling figuring it should be a surprise when (and if) you see it Sunday. Maybe I’ll see you there…


  1. This is important and grotesque history. Lots of whales at one time off the coast, another whaling station in Trinidad. Now people gather to see the living whales, so it’s a sign that we can change. What if people of the future recoiled from the picture of a man standing next to a log. I mean a dead tree. Maybe those future people will have different ideas about making nature our slave. Thanks for passing it on.

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