Humboldt Bay was settled in the early 19th century, and has a rich seafaring history filled with adventure, passion and — especially — disaster. From the 1850s through the early part of the 20th century, the best way to carry passengers, lumber and goods to and from this area was by sea. In 1853 alone, 12 ships wrecked on the bar at the treacherous mouth of the bay. By 1856 the Humboldt Harbor Light was built on the north spit, eventually being replaced by the Table Bluff Light in 1886.
Many aspects of maritime life of the North Coast and Humboldt Bay come alive as soon as you step through the door of the Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum. It is filled with artifacts that will show you about the shipwrecks, shipbuilding, lumber schooners, fishing boats, ferries, tugs and the lighthouses that lit the way for all boats to pass safely into the harbor. They even have a lighthouse lens from the middle of the 19th century. The M.V. Madaket, a 1910 passenger ferry that departs from the foot of C St., offers cruises around Humboldt Bay and is also operated by the museum.