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Ferndale Museum
Ferndale CA Ferndale Museum Mural.jpg
The Shaw Street side of the Museum is muraled.
Location 515 Shaw Avenue, Ferndale, California
Type history

The Ferndale Museum, located in Ferndale, California, houses and exhibits artifacts, documents and papers from settlement during the California Gold Rush to the present including an active Bosch-Omori seismograph. The area of collection covers the lower Eel River Valley as far south as the Mattole River Valley and west to the Pacific Ocean. Collections include over 6,000 photographs, back issues of the Ferndale Enterprise newspaper, and family papers spanning 140 years.


Blacksmithing demonstration

Permanent displays in the main building include a Magneto switchboard, a Pacific Telephone toll board, working crank telephones, historical rooms and furnishings, doll houses of interesting local buildings, and a display of Seth Kinman items. Tools, dairy, logging and farm equipment and a working blacksmith forge are in the museum Annex.

Bosch-Omori Seismograph

Ferndale resident Joseph Jordan Bognuda (2 October 1889 Vacaville, California - 7 January 1979) became interested in earthquakes after living through the 1906 San Francisco which caused considerable damage in Ferndale and over the entire Eel River Valley. Bognuda began a correspondence with Perry Byerly and attended lectures at the University of California at Berkeley which resulted in the University and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey establishing a Ferndale Seismographic Station with a lighter Bosch-Omori Seismograph than the one in active use at Berkeley at the same time.

Omori Seismographs were developed by Fusakichi Omori, a seismologist at the Imperial University of Tokyo and further refined by J.A. Bosch of Strasbourg who added a damping mechanism.

Bosch-Omori Seismographs are made of two units, one to detect movement North to South and the other East to West. Each has a pendulum which can pivot, restrained by a flexible wire and have a recording needle which traces on smoked paper, controlled by a weight-powered timepiece.

The seismograph parts were shipped from Berkeley to Ferndale and assembled by Bognuda and Horace Winslow of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in what is now the Ferndale Fire Department building. This new Ferndale Station, abbreviated "FER" - located at 40°34′33.74″N 124°15′48.92″W / 40.5760389°N 124.2635889°W / 40.5760389; -124.2635889 - became active on January 25, 1933.

During the nearly 30 years FER station was in operation, newspapers throughout the U.S. contacted it for information about California earthquakes. With daily observations, Bognuda solved an old puzzle about constantly wiggling traces, by correlating vibrations recorded at FER station to heavy surf on the nearby coast, an effect now called wave-generated microseism.

The FER station became inactive in 1962 when advances in seismic technology rendered it and several others in the state obsolete. The Bosch-Omori seismograph was donated to Ferndale by the University, and moved to the Museum where it continues to record daily.

Ferndale Museum Mural

In 2007, artists collective Empire Squared of Eureka, California donated labor to paint a mural featuring local history and scenery on the Shaw Street side of the museum.

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