Construction was well underway in November 1965 on the Humboldt State College Marine Laboratory in Trinidad. Also pictured is the 50,000-gallon seawater storage tank. (Times-Standard file photo)

Construction was well underway 53 years ago this week on the new Humboldt State College Marine Laboratory in Trinidad. Professors spearheading the facility were eager to have a place for marine and environmental science teaching and research for the school’s students and faculty.

The lab, located a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean, opened in early 1966 as part of a long-planned extension of the college’s saltwater research facilities. The new 70,000-square-foot lab featured a continuous source of fresh seawater through networks of plastic piping, with the water stored in a nearby 50,000-gallon storage tank. Lining the main hallways of the lab were six 500-gallon aquariums, as well as a 2,500-gallon circular tank.

According to the Nov. 11, 1965 Humboldt Times, construction and operation of the new lab placed Humboldt State among the leading colleges in the nation in oceanographic research. In addition to lab studies, students also had access to shorelines, beaches and kelp beds for educational and research purposes.

In the 1960s, Humboldt State College was already recognized as one of the top schools in the field of forestry because of its proximity to the redwoods, the Humboldt Times said.

The HSC Marine Laboratory was constructed for a little over $500,000 by the Baldwin Warren Co. of San Francisco. James Gast, an assistant professor of oceanography at the college, was named director of the new facility.

Humboldt State College became known as Humboldt State University in 1972 and the HSC Marine Laboratory is now called the HSU Telonicher Marine Laboratory — named after a longtime professor, Fred Telonicher, who taught marine biology and was a brainchild of the new facility.

In addition to being used for studies and research, the lab is also open to the public. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A self-guided tour is available in addition to several view tanks and a touch tank. For more information about the facility or group tours, call 707-826-3671 or go to the Humboldt State University lab website at

Heather Shelton can be reached at 707-441-0516.

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