The first European to record Point Arena was Spaniard Bartolomé Ferrer in 1543, who named it Cabo de Fortunas (Spanish for “cape of fortunes”). The cape was renamed to Punta Delgado (narrow point) in 1775 by lieutenant Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra (commander of the schooner Sonora), part of a royal expedition chartered by the government of Mexico to map the north coast of Alta California. Later the point, and the small harbor town south of it, were called Barra de Arena (i.e. sandbar) and finally Punta Arena (literally “sand point”). The Punta Arena post office opened in 1858, and was renamed Point Arena in 1889. The first store at Point Arena opened in 1859. Point Arena incorporated in 1908. It isn’t very big now and was even smaller when the 1906 earthquake hit.
Virtually all visitors to our layout in Fort Bragg are amazed to find out that the 1906 earthquake was not just about San Francisco but the entire Californian Coast north up to Eureka. I think I have finally found a way to show visually just how close the fault line is to the Mendocino Coast. Look at this topo map which shows Point Arena in the centre. The land features to the right (east) of Point Arena are the same as the features under the sea. The dark blue streak in the water running from the top left corner of the map to about a third of the way across the middle of the bottom is the San Andreas Fault – a mere four miles offshore. Click on the map to see it enlarged.
This picture which I recently received shows the damage to Point Arena Main Street caused by the Quake.