A major fire broke out in downtown Fortuna during the early morning hours today, engulfing part of a block of Main Street. Engines from Ferndale, Scotia, Eureka and elsewhere helped battle the blaze and provide coverage.
The structure involved is the historic Star Hotel building. Located on the corner of 11th and Main Streets, the Star Hotel was a popular destination from the 1880’s to the 1950’s.
So far no word what caused the fire.
In 1876 the Star Hotel building was named in honor of Andrew and Jacob Starar, who owned a ranch near the Mad River. They kept a herd of elk in a fenced area in town, which was probably the town’s source of meat at that time and Andrew even owned most of the town at one time, selling part of it to Henry Rohner, for whom Rohnerville is named.
Rohner purchased 350 acres donating it to Fortuna for its first city park. The deed of the parkland was signed by Abraham Lincoln, and a replica is housed at the Park’s Depot Museum.
In the early 1900’s Henry’s widow, Mary sold the town a total of 53 acres of the family’s land in three installments. This is now the location of the present-day Rohner Park.
Their daughter, Elizabeth Rohner, sold the third section of land to the City for one dollar with the stipulation that the park’s name never be changed.
The brothers are also Fortuna’s connection to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, believed to be in the Superstition Mountains, near Apache Junction, east of Phoenix, Arizona. The mine’s named after Jacob Waltz, who discovered it in the 19th century but kept its location a secret.
After leaving California the Starar brothers went to Mexico, and then sometime in 1866 or ‘67, returned to the U.S. settling in Arizona next to Waltz. Andrew purchased a part of a mine claim from Waltz on August 8, 1878.
Many speculate that the diggings he purchased was part of the famed mine.