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Del Norte County is a county located at the far northwest corner of the U.S. state of California, along the Pacific Ocean adjacent to the Oregon border. As of the 2010 census, the population was 28,610. The county seat and only incorporated city is Crescent City. Del Norte is the shortened Spanish nickname for “the land of the north” (la Tierra del Norte). Despite its Spanish etymology, the official pronunciation of the name is to drop the trailing “e” and simply say “Del Nort.” Del Norte County comprises the Crescent City, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The rural county is notable for forests containing giant Coast Redwoods, with some attaining heights over 350 feet (110 m). This northernmost county on the California coast also has scores of unique plants and flowers, dozens of species of coastal birds and fish, rocky primitive beaches and sea stacks, pristine rivers, and historic lighthouses. Del Norte is also known among Bigfoot enthusiasts as the location of the famous Patterson–Gimlin film, as well as being the location of some of the forest scenes used in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
The area that is now known as Del Norte was and still is inhabited by the Yurok (Klamath River Indians) and Tolowa Nations of indigenous peoples. The first European American to explore this land was pioneer Jedediah Smith in the mid-19th century. He was the first European American to reach the area overland on foot in a time before the European Americans knew anything about such a distant territory. For him it was literally “Land’s End” — where the American continent ended at the Pacific Ocean. In 1855 Congress authorized the building of a lighthouse at “the battery point” (a high tide island on the coast of Crescent City) which is still functioning as a historical landmark.