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Ehrenburg and his companions did not waste much time at Trinidad, but after securing supplies prepared to return to the mouth of the Klamath. Not having heard anything from Bertrand's party and suspecting that it had been lost at sea, Ehrenburg told several others of their discoveries. When they headed north, one group traveled by land and another by boat. The two parties rendezvoused at the mouth of the Klamath on April 16, and three days later they sounded the pass through the bar and found 20 feet of water at ebb tide. Ehrenburg surveyed the individual claims and a city was platted, "making liberal reservations for schoolhouses, public buildings, and public squares." In accordance with the preemption law, gardens were planted, while some of the speculators built log cabins and others put up tents. [11]

Du Bertrand straggled into Klamath City, as the boomtown was called, on April 24, and told of disaster. His boat had been swamped in effecting a landing near Battery Point, and his comrades, including Lieutenants Bache and Browning, had drowned. The next day, the 25th, John Winchester and a party of men arrived up the beach from Trinidad. In May, several days after Laura Virginia had reconnoitered the bar, Capt. L. B. Edwards arrived off the Klamath in the brig Sierra Nevada. Aboard were supplies and 20 passengers. Captain Edwards did not bother to sound the pass, but crossed the bar where breakers ran highest. Sierra Nevada came over the bar like a race horse, but she lost her deck boat, as there was a high sea. She thus became the first ship of record to enter the Klamath. [12]

On May 15 a party started up the Klamath in three canoes to explore the river. They returned in three days to report the loss of one man by drowning, along with their provisions and arms. They complained that the Indians were hostile and had upset their canoes. A land party was now sent to reconnoiter the river. They found the way very difficult, as the countryside near the mouth of the Klamath was a "dense jumble of rugged hills." It took the trail blazers eight days to reach the mouth of the Trinity, but they were able to make the run downstream in canoes in two days. An expedition was outfitted, sent up the river, and punished the Yurok who had plundered the first party. [13]

The citizens of Klamath City by the end of the summer of 1850 had erected 20 houses, laid out gardens, begun the cultivation of farms, made arrangements to have steamers on the San Francisco-Columbia River run make their town a port of call, secured specifications for a Klamath River steamboat, sent out parties which pinpointed new diggings along the Klamath and Trinity rivers, and had established contact with the camps about Weaverville. [14] So certain of success were Ehrenburg and the other promoters that they had prevailed on The Pacific Daily News of San Francisco to announce on October 16, 1850, that Klamath City was on the "only direct and the cheapest route to the Klamath and Salmon river mines." The town as platted was about three miles from the mouth of the Klamath, and 250 miles from San Francisco. At all times, it was reported the Klamath River afforded "a safe and excellent harbor," and it was navigable by steamers from the city to the mines, 50 to 75 miles upstream. The river abounded in salmon and the valleys with deer and elk, while the forest contained a noble growth of pine and redwood fit for piles.

For the merchant, miner, mechanic, and capitalist, Klamath City presented unsurpassed opportunities. Vessels were now running from San Francisco to the Klamath, and a line of steamboats would soon be plying the route. [15]

On January 7, 1851, The Pacific Daily News reported, "A fortune will be quickly realized by the first light draught steamboats that are put on the Klamath river." Because of the powerful current, sternwheelers would be necessary. [16] But trouble was at hand. On January 17 a resident of Klamath City reported that Tarquin had grounded and had stranded in crossing the bar. Recent storms had thrown up another bar beyond the one screening the north shore. This had constricted the pass into "a long letter S," and it was now only 70 yards wide but very deep. On the 16th the outer bar had begun to wash at a favorable point, and it was hoped that with in 72 hours there would again be a good entrance. Vessels, however should continue to be careful in navigating the bar and entering the river. [17]

At this time, an additional 20 to 30 houses and stores were under construction, while a prefabricated sheet-iron house had been shipped in and assembled. "Doctor C." had built a large boat capable of transporting at least 4,000 pounds of provisions, with which he planned to make a run up to the diggings on the Salmon River. [18]

The boom town now received a fatal blow. Although the January storm had closed the bar, hopes were voiced that the War Department might receive an appropriation of $30,000 to improve the harbor. But the citizens could not wait for Congress to act. Klamath City was accordingly abandoned before it was a year old, having cost its promoters thousands of dollars and the lives of 29 whites, who were either killed by the Yurok or drowned. The iron house was dismantled and shipped back to San Francisco, and Klamath City became a memory. [19]

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Last Updated: 15-Mar-2006