The Humboldt County Historical Society has just released a special limited edition plaque commemorating the wreck of the USS Milwaukee off the coast of Humboldt Bay in 1917. The event was a slow-motion disaster, bringing thousands of people to the beach to watch. The Milwaukee, a naval cruiser, had come to pull a submarine, the H-3, out of the sand, becoming stuck in the process. The submarine was freed from the shifting sands of the Samoa Peninsula, but the Milwaukee became permanently stuck and it broke in two during a storm. The Navy stripped the ship of everything salvageable. The decks were torn apart by the shop classes of Eureka and Arcata schools.
Local naval historian Wallace Martin, author of Sail and Steam on the Northern California Coast, acquired pieces of the decking cut into thin rectangles, perhaps when he was enrolled in shop at Eureka High School a few years after the Milwaukee ran aground. He and his family carefully preserved these relics of Humboldt County history for more than 85 years. They were donated to the society to make these plaques as a fundraiser.
Each plaque includes a piece of the Milwaukee decking, attractively framed below a photograph of the wreck. An official historical society seal and signature marks these as authentic commemoratives. Only 100 were made.
The Milwaukee plaques are only available at Eureka Books and the historical society. $125