Samoa (formerly, Brownsville) is an unincorporated community in Humboldt County, California. It is located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northwest of Eureka, at an elevation of 23 feet (7 m). Samoa is located in the northern peninsula of Humboldt Bay and is the site of the Samoa Cookhouse, one of the last lumber style cookhouses remaining.
The place was known as Brownville until a group of Eureka businessmen formed the Samoa Land and Improvement Company in 1889. Vance Lumber Company purchased the Humboldt Bay frontage from Samoa Land and Improvement Company for construction of a large sawmill in 1892. Eureka and Klamath River Railroad was chartered in 1893 to connect the Samoa sawmill and associated worker housing facilities to the city of Arcata and timberlands near the Mad River. The Samoa sawmill was the largest in Humboldt County when purchased by Andrew B. Hammond in 1900.
A sash and door factory was added to the mill complex by 1909, and the company was reorganized as the Hammond Lumber Company in 1912. Hammond Lumber Company built an emergency shipyard during World War I, and seven wooden steam-ships were built at Samoa between 1917 and 1919. Hammond Lumber Company railroads brought logs and lumber to Samoa from Little River and Big Lagoon until the railway trestles were destroyed by wildfire in 1945.
Georgia-Pacific Corporation purchased the Samoa sawmill complex in 1956 and began operation of a plywood mill in 1958. A modern sawmill replaced the original sawmill facilities in 1964. A pulp mill began operation in 1965. Some of the older worker housing was razed during construction of modern mill facilities, but the Samoa Cookhouse was preserved. The Samoa mill complex was transferred to Louisiana-Pacific Corporation during a Federal Trade Commission action initiated in 1972 The last old-growth timber was milled in 1980, and the area was set for sale in 2001.
The coastal bar separating Humboldt Bay from the Pacific Ocean has been breached by a dredged channel to allow commercial shipping to enter the bay. The north jetty has unusual concrete breakers that resemble toy jacks. The breakers were built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to withstand the area's heavy seas, and were featured by Huell Howser On PBS's "California's Gold" (Episode #803). Samoa peninsula includes the Manila and Samoa Dunes, some of the most ecologically diverse areas in California, and stretches to the Arcata Bottoms. The peninsula is about ten miles (16 km) long by one mile wide. This area is vulnerable to tsunamis as its average height above sea level is only 3 feet (0.91 m). It also contains the unincorporated community of Manila and a United States Coast Guard station. Residential expansion is proposed that would double the size of Manila, which currently has neither fire or police services of its own. The ZIP Code is 95564. The community is inside area code 707.
The seaward side of the peninsula is Samoa Beach. The great green combers of winter gales hump and crest about a half-mile offshore where the 30-foot curve parallels the shoreline. During such storms, little can be seen between the breakers and the beach except the smoky spume of crests blown off by the wind. Varying currents and a high incidence of foggy days caused mariners to call the approach to Humboldt Bay a "graveyard of the Pacific" in days before modern navigational aids were available. Even when the fog bank was no more than a threat on the horizon, landmarks on the higher ground east of Humboldt Bay were obscured by a low overcast of smoke from lumber mills and homes using wood fuel. Twenty-seven vessels had gone ashore in this vicinity before the cruiser USS Milwaukee (C-21) grounded here on 13 January 1917 and broke up in the pounding surf. The cruiser, disregarding recommendations of local mariners, was attempting to salvage the submarine USS H-3 (SS-30). The submarine had gone aground on 15 December 1916; and its crew were living in tents on the beach. The submarine was later salvaged by the Mercer-Fraser Company building a track of balks across the Samoa peninsula and jacking the submarine up onto rollers to be towed across and relaunched into Humboldt Bay.
In the state legislature Samoa is located in the 2nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Pat Wiggins, and in the 1st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Patty Berg. Federally, Samoa is located in California's 1st congressional district.