Fifty-four years ago, Humboldt County Historical Society President Dan Villa presented a one-ton bell to College of the Redwoods during the school’s inauguration ceremony in Eureka.
The bell — cast in 1883 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo — had served as a fog bell in Shelter Cove from 1936 to 1945. It was originally presented to the historical society by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The CR bell presentation took place Oct. 8, 1965, at the college’s temporary site adjacent to Eureka High School, with plans to install the bell in a fixed tower several years later when the permanent CR campus opened on Tompkins Hill Road, where the college is located today. The bell was going to be used to toll hourly class changes.
College Vice President C. Jo Hindley accepted the bell on behalf of CR during the 1965 dedication ceremony. He also struck the first note, using a sledgehammer, according to the Oct. 9, 1965, Humboldt Times newspaper.
CR President Eugene Portugal gave the dedicatory address and Walter Dolfini, president of the college’s board of directors, also spoke, as did Homer Balabanis, vice president of academic affairs, emeritus professor of economics at Humboldt State College in Arcata.
During the ceremony, the college’s flagpole — which formerly stood at the Eureka Train Station — was also dedicated.
According to the CR website, redwoods.edu, the Redwoods Community College District was formed in January 1964 by an election of Humboldt County voters. A bond issue of $3.6 million was passed for the initial construction of what is now the college’s Eureka campus. From 1965 to 1967, prior to the completion of that construction, CR offered courses and programs at the site by the Eureka High campus.
College of the Redwoods is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. And, that bell that once protected mariners off Point Delgada at Shelter Cove, can still be seen on the CR campus in Eureka.
“We have the bell prominently displayed on campus. It was recently restored as well,” said Jesse Wiedel, CR communications and marketing coordinator.
Heather Shelton can be reached at 707-441-0516.