by Dottie Smith
My definition of a ghost town is a settlement or town that has been completely abandoned and no longer exists.
Agland The settlement of Agland was located northwest of Ono. It was named for the Agricultural Land Company who founded the community. The Agland Post Office was established in 1894 and discontinued in 1895. Was located northwest of Ono.
Alfa This was a small agricultural community established in the early 1880s 13 miles from Fall City toward Sisson. The Alfa Post Office was established in 1888 and discontinued in 1895. The community was named for alfalfa, the principal crop of the area. Has also spelled its name as Alpha.
Baird The settlement of Baird was located on the west side of the McCloud River and was established as a direct result of the nearby Baird U. S. Fish Hatchery. When the hatchery was established in 1872, the settlement grew up around it. Baird was named for Professor Spencer E. Baird, the first Federal Fish Commissioner in the United States. The hatchery was the first federal salmon hatchery established in the United States. The Baird Post Office was established in 1878,closed in 1920, reopened in 1929 and closed its doors for the last time in 1933.
Basin Hollow Basin Hollow was located between Clover Creek and Cow Creek in eastern Shasta County. It was home to the first flour mill in the area. The first settlers were bachelors Nathaniel and Samuel Stroud who built their house on the bank of Clover Creek in 1853. The Buncombe Mill (flour mill) was built nearby in 1856. The Basin Hollow Road was finished and opened in 1857 becoming the first public road into the Whitmore country. The road began at the flour mill and ended at the Stroud Ranch in Whitmore.
Briggsville Briggsville was established in 1849 and was another of the very first gold mining settlements in Shasta County. It was located by Ben Briggs and originally called Breechesburg because Ben and his fellow miners had a habit of wandering about without breeches. That ended when Mrs. Briggs arrived, the first female resident. She demanded they either begin wearing breeches or she would leave. Not only did they begin wearing breeches, they named the town for her! Briggsville was located approximately one mile east of where Horsetown was located. It was the place where goldminer James Reagan supposedly took gold out by the panful. Among other things, the town included a toll bridge across Clear Creek, a stage stop, and the Lean Hotel. In 1866, a Chinese mining company purchased the townsite for $1,100, cleared away all the buildings and trees, and heavily dredged the townsite for a considerable profit. The only known remains are tailing piles, three stone lime kilns, and several cabin foundations.
Bullskin Established in the 1870s near the Kenyon Sulphur Springs beside Cow Creek at Round Mountain. It was supposedly named for bullskin (oxen) hides hung on a line between two trees by resident George Jackson. Because of that, George became known as Bullskin Jack and the settlement as Bullskin. The settlement contained a store/roadhouse operated by Jackson, the Kenyon Hotel and W. H. Fender’s furniture and chair factory. The settlement no longer existed by 1881.
Bully Hill Even though Bully Hill hasn’t existed for years, it is still shown on almost every Shasta County map printed. It was located where Squaw Creek flowed into the Pit River.
Placer gold was discovered here in 1853. The settlement was established in 1863 as a silver and copper mining town on the west side of Squaw Creek. It was originally called Chuse Bully by the local Indian people meaning brushy hill. One version for the Bully Hill name claims it was erroneously named Bully Hill by white men for a controversy over the spelling of "Chuse", while another version claims it was named by white people after Bolli Holans, a Wintu chief.
The Bully Hill Copper Mining & Smelter Company built a huge smelter on the banks of Squaw Creek in 1901. This smelter processed 150 tons of ore daily. In 1906-07, the smelter was enlarged to a 400-ton daily capacity. The smelter produced flat copper ingots about 2 ft. square by 2" thick. In addition to processing ore from the Bully Hill Mine, copper ore from the Afterthought Mine at Ingot was transported by way of an 8.5-mile-long aerial tramway to the Bully Hill smelter.
A cluster of employee houses known as Circle City was built on the hillside above the smelter. The mine and smelter closed in 1910 because of a decreasing copper supply and litigation over the poisonous smelter fumes released from the chimney of the smelter. The mine continued to operate on and off over the years; its last year of operation was in 1927. Explorations were conducted beginning in 1951 and ended in 1956 after which the mine was allowed to fill with water. Most buildings, machinery, and equipment were removed; however portions of the smelter, a stone hydroelectric powerhouse, tailing piles, a winery, and miscellaneous fruit trees remain. What remains of Bully Hill can be reached by unpaved forest road or by boat on Shasta Lake.
Cinnabar Cinnabar was located in the Sacramento River Canyon in the Castle Creek Mining District in the 1870s. A store, hotel, saloon, and several residences were in the community. Cinnabar was a mercury or quicksilver mining town for the nearby Altoona and Integral Quicksilver Mines. Mining was carried on and off over the years; the last known mining activity occurred at the Altoona Mine in 1966.
Circle City This is a place I haven’t visited (yet) so I don’t have a clue as to what remains. And it’s also a place I have very little information on. I’ve always wondered if it was built in a circle as its name implies. What I know is that it was a “cluster” of employee houses for the Bully Hill Copper Mining & Smelter Company. The houses were built in approximately 1901 on the hillside above the mine smelter that was built on the banks of Squaw Creek across from Silverthorne.
Clarkville Clarkville was located in the southern area of the Rancho de Briesgau land grant in 1856 (mostly located where Gover Ranch is located today). The Clarkville Election Precinct established in 1868 and Dr. James F. Winsell held the office of Inspector. The community was possibly named for Jeremiah Clarke, a partner in the Rancho de Briesgau land scheme.
Copley Copley was once located north of Keswick beside the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks at the base of Copley Mountain. The 'Camp Bailey' vacation resort was located here; Copley was first known as Camp Bailey. Eventually the resort area became the location of the Copley settlement. The Copley Post Office was established in 1886 and was discontinued in 1913. It was named for Mr. Copley (first name unknown) who operated the Camp Bailey vacation resort. Copley became the headquarters of the Flat Creek Mining District in the 1880s and the Great Western Gold Co. in 1902. A railroad siding and water tank were located at Copley. BLM's Chappie-Shasta OHV (off-highway area) passes through long-gone Copley.
Copper City Captain O. R. Johnson established Copper City in 1852 even claiming ownership of it. He built a fence all around the settlement making it possibly the only town in California surrounded by a fence. It was once one of the largest copper mining communities in Shasta County. Its name was derived from a mining company named ‘The Original Williams and Kellinger Gold, Silver and Copper Mining Company.’ As indicated by the mining company name, Copper City was located in a rich gold, silver, and copper ore area on the north side of the Pit River at the mouth of Squaw Creek. 75 buildings were located at Copper City in 1864. By 1920, Copper City was declining. What remains of the town now lie beneath of the waters of Shasta Lake.
Elizabethtown This was a gold mining boomtown established in 1853 as a result of a gold discovery on Squaw Creek and in the streams and gulches around Bully Hill. The community was located at the junction of Horse and Squaw Creeks. Had disappeared by the early 1880s.
Eudora Colony The Eudora Colony was made up of 29 young German families who moved to an area near Whitmore from Germany in 1885 believing there were houses and farms awaiting them. When they arrived, they found they had been deceived. They cleared the land, built houses for each family, a church, a cemetery, and an agricultural ditch. All that exists today is the ditch known as the German Ditch, their cemetery known as the Whitmore Evangelical Cemetery. Their farms were located around and in the vicinity of the cemetery. Their main crops were hops which they dried, baled, and transported to a San Francisco brewery. In addition to the hops, they raised fruits and vegetables.
Grizzly Gulch/City Grizzly City was one of Shasta County’s earliest gold mining settlements. It was named for the many grizzlies who lived in the area and was located between Whiskeytown and the Tower House in 1850.
Hart Hart was an 1890s gold mining settlement once located near the Texas Mine at the end of Walker Mine Road on the east side of the Sacramento River. Hart was also known as Hart Village and the Hart Mining Village. In later years, it became the location of Old Diggings. The settlement was named for prominent mining man Richard G. Hart, Sr., owner of the Texas Mine. Hart consisted of a store, post office, telegraph office, school, and several residences.
Hooverville Hooverville was actually a tent camp settlement that existed on the outskirts of Whiskeytown during The Depression. Residents were made up of families who migrated into the area to mine for gold. The men set up small mining operations consisting of panning and sluicing mainly in Whiskey and Clear Creeks.
Horsetown Horsetown was first known as Clear Creek Diggings, later One Horse Town, and lastly Horsetown. It was supposedly named One Horse Town after Jack Spencer's old gray horse, then the only American horse in town. Settlement began in 1849 on the north side of Clear Creek on a flat area at the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon adjoining Reading's Bar. Horsetown became a 36-acre town complete with plank sidewalks, two hotels, several stores, a butcher shop, blacksmith shops, bakery, 10 pin, football and hand ball alley, Catholic Church, newspaper, and 14 saloons. Became the center for the surrounding mining district and headquarters for the neighboring districts. It was also the principal mining town of southwestern Shasta County for a number of years and home to over 1000 residents during the Gold Rush. Horse Town Post Office was established in 1852 and stayed open until 1876. Was home to many Chinese during the 1860s. Many buildings were destroyed by fire in 1868 and the town was abandoned by the late 1870s. Dredging began in 1905 and continued until 1930 resulting in the almost complete destruction of the remaining town. All that remains at Horsetown are a few cabin foundations, tailing piles and workings, ditches, and adits. Today, the Horsetown-Clear Creek Preserve occupies what used to be the townsite.
Iron Mountain During the 1890s when Mountain Copper Company owned Iron Mountain Mine, a company town named Iron Mountain was located on the mountain. It was perched on the mountainside near the mine shafts and included a one-story, 7-room cottage with two large brick fireplaces and a wide porch all around for the manager, three superintendent houses containing four or five bedrooms, a two-story, 16-room staff quarters’ building a large mess and entertainment hall complete with dining room and kitchen, canteen, billiard room and music room, a hospital, approximately 25 family cottages, and two 16-room bunkhouses for the single men employees. Also on the property was a tennis court, a football field, and the Iron Mountain Post Office. In 1897, a fire destroyed many of the buildings. In 1922, the mine was abandoned but continued to operate intermittently until as late as 1963 when all mining operations ceased.
Jackass Flat Jackass Flat was one of the earliest gold mining settlements in Shasta County. It was located on a flat open meadow area between Horsetown and Centerville in the 1850s. It was used mainly as a pasturing area for pack train mules. The settlement of Jackass Flat grew up around the pasture area. In 1857, a main branch of the Clear Creek Canal was located at Jackass Flat. Supposedly Jackass Flat received its name from James LaTour who pastured his mules in the meadow and called his strays with his famous braying call.
Jillsonville When Mr. I. O.Jillson purchased the idle Gladstone Mine at French Gulch in 1900, not only did he make improvements on the existing gold mine, he also established and built Jillsonville, a self-sufficient company town near the mine named for himself. Workers and their families lived in approximately twenty three-room company houses at Jillsonville and their children attended the company school. The cottages were located beside Cline Gulch a short distance west of the mine. The mine employed over 100 men during its mining peak. A hospital, dance hall, and electric railroad were also located on the mine property. All that remains at Jillsonville are a few rock walls and scattered house foundations.
Kennett Established in 1884 as a railroad town beside the Sacramento River when the California & Oregon Railroad extended its tracks from Redding to Delta. Kennett was first used as a railroad emergency brake-testing station and was named by the railroad for Squire Kennett, a railroad stockholder and financier. Eventually it became a copper mining boom town that once boasted a population of over 10,000. The world famous Diamond Bar Saloon was located at Kennett; it stayed open 24 hours a day to accommodate the thousands of copper miners. The offices of the Justice of the Peace were located in the saloon building basement. The town was even home to an Opera House. The Kennett Post Office was established in 1886 and closed its doors just before the waters of Shasta Lake submerged it. In 1904, the town suffered a devastating fire. In 1905 electricity arrived. In 1907 the Mammoth Copper Company built a copper smelter whose thick fumes sometimes enveloped the whole town in a haze of bluish smoke. The smelter operated continuously until 1919 when it was shut down by court order, operated again briefly in 1924, and was finally dismantled in 1925. Kennett was the 2nd largest town in Shasta County in 1910 and the most prosperous mining town in the West. In 1911 Kennett became incorporated and in 1930 became disincorporated. Many of the buildings at Kennett were dismantled, taken away, and rebuilt in other towns; however, many still remained when the waters of Shasta Lake submerged the once lively town. The remains of Kennett now lie in the deepest part of Shasta Lake about a mile north of the dam.
Latona Latona was sometimes referred to as a "paper town" because it barely made it off the drawing board. It was the brainchild of Pierson B. Reading who visioned it as being a town of great importance and the head of river navigation on the Sacramento River north of Red Bluff. Plans to lay out the town began in 1850. Reading contracted with William Magee in 1862 to sell lots and act as his agent in all matters. Magee laid out a 400-acre town on the west bank of the Sacramento River on Reading's land grant near the mouth of Clear Creek and Spring Gulch; the town was designed to follow the organization of Sacramento. Six lots were sold to Charles Nivelles in 1862. The town once contained a warehouse, hotel, and various other buildings. All were destroyed by fire except for the hotel in 1863. All that remains to let us know where Latona was once located is Latona Road in south Redding beside the Jolly Giant Flea Market.
Matheson Matheson was established as a direct result of Iron Mountain Mine and served as the railroad terminus for the mine. A Southern Pacific Railroad siding operated at Matheson until 1951. Ore was hauled from the mine to this siding. In 1921, the rail line was replaced by the Iron Mountain Tramway (aerial). In 1953, the tramway was extended one additional mile from Matheson to Keswick. It operated intermittently into the 1970s. Remnants of it still exist.
The Matheson Post Office was established in 1922 and operated until 1962. Matheson Road exists off of Iron Mountain Road and is near the Chappie-Shasta OHV area.
Morrowville There isn’t much left of Morrowville. There are no buildings, just an apple tree or two, some rosebushes, irises, daffodils, a few rock walls, and a very few foundations. Morrowville was one of the very first Gold Rush mining settlements in Shasta County. It was established in 1849 beside French Gulch Creek approximately 1½ miles west of the current downtown French Gulch. It was named for H. W. Morrow who owned a ranch on the creek. Morrowville’s demise came when gold was discovered in the settlement. The gold fever took over and the miners began mining in the streets and beneath the houses. In 1854 the settlement moved eastward beside Clear Creek and reestablished itself as French Gulch.
Piety Hill Piety Hill was one of Shasta County’s original 1849 gold-mining settlements. At one time it contained 1,500 residents, 600 of whom were Chinese. As with many of our early settlements, there are more than one version for its name. One version claims it was named for the religious and political discussions held there by its pious early residents. Another claims it was named in honor of resident Grandma McKinney;s former home in Piety Hill, Michigan.
When the nearby Hardscrabble Mine discovered that the town sat on an ancient river channel, it began making plans to hydraulically mine the townsite for the gold it most likely contained. In anticipation of their towns’ destruction, most of the white residents moved a quarter-mile west and established a new town they named Igo. The Chinese residents stayed at Piety Hill. Their decision to stay proved to be the right one because the mining never took place. The Anti-Debris Act soon outlawed hydraulic mining because of the destruction it caused. The mining stopped at the edge of town, saving it from annihilation. All that remains at Piety Hill today are some circular holes in the ground that were the cellars of the Chinese houses, water ditches, and the remains of two reservoirs.
Pinckney Pinckney was established in 1881 by Dr. Kenneth Davidson in an attempt to escape rampant malaria in lower Gas Point where he previously had been living. The town was named by Davidson for a Michigan settlement where he once speculated on land. Pinckney was once located approximately two miles southeast of Gas Point on higher ground and just east of the present Pinckney Cemetery. The Pinckney Post Office was established in 1881 and discontinued in 1890.
Pittsburgh When placer gold was discovered here in 1853, a small settlement quickly developed. The general location was on the west side of Squaw Creek near its confluence with the Pit River. It was also known as the “Pittsburgh District” and the “Pittsburgh Mining District”. The area was served by the Shasta & Pittsburgh Express Company the same year and the Pittsburg & Copper City Express in 1864 and 1865. In later years it became an important copper mining area and was in the same general location as the Bully Hill, Copper City, and Brownsville settlements.
Plateau This place was located on the east side of Battle Creek parallel to the Shingletown Ridge at the Battle Creek Bridge in the early 1880s. More than 50 people were living in the community in 1898. Because the settlement suffered from a lack of water, many residents left. A 1917 forest fire destroyed most of what was left of the community.
Roaring River An 1850s gold mining settlement once located on a bluff at the edge of the Bald Hills west of Cottonwood. The surrounding area was a heavily mined gold producing area from 1850 to 1860. It received its name for the echoes of the nearby rapids caused from the high bluffs on both sides of the creek. A large Chinese settlement and a large Chinese vegetable garden was also located at Roaring River. The settlement included “Johnny’s Store” in 1866, frequented mostly by the Chinese and owned and operated by John Bidwell. The store was a rare rammed earth structure. After it closed in 1911, it became a private residence. Its last partial wall fell to the ground in 1988.
Silver City Silver City was a boomtown that came about because of a silver discovery on a ledge above Silver Creek in 1862. The discovery prompted the filing of many mining claims. Silver City was located about 2½ miles above Ingot. Along with the mining claims came the building of approximately 40 to 50 buildings that included stores, boarding houses, a saloon, livery stable, and a meat market. In 1863 the Silver City Election Precinct was established. By 1864 the town was “booming” and even contained a water blast furnace to process the ore. Sadly though, the ore that was thought to be rich galena ore, turned out to be nothing more than pot metal. By 1865, the town was deserted. A later forest fire supposedly destroyed all traces of the boomtown that boomed and busted in only three years.
Smithville This community was the company town of the Trinity Dredging Company who dredged the area for gold. Hundreds of their tailing piles still exist to remind us they were there. It was established north of the Pinckney Cemetery alongside Gas Point Road in 1914. When their work was finished, they packed up all their buildings and moved on to another work site in Marysville.
Texas Springs Texas Springs was another of our 1849 gold mining settlements. It was located near Clear Creek approximately 2½ miles east of Horsetown and a few miles south of Centerville. In 1856 the settlement contained a hotel, a store, blacksmith shop, two saloons, and a “score of little dwelling houses.” In 1857, Upper Texas Springs was the location of a principal branch of the Clear Creek Canal and reservoir, two large Chinese gardens, and the Texas Springs Quarry. Rock from the quarry was used locally to build railroad culverts, for tombstones in the Horsetown, Middletown and Texas Springs cemeteries, for private burial plots, and for trimmings on buildings. The rock in the low wall around the Shasta County courthouse grounds came from the Texas Springs Quarry. The Texas Springs Election Precinct was established in 1858. In 1860, Texas Springs was the location of two school houses. The only remains of the settlement are two cemeteries whose tombstones are from the quarry and the Texas Springs Road to remind us where it was located. Named for a goldminer nicknamed Texas.
Waugh Waugh was established in 1855 at the place where Middle Creek flows into the Sacramento River in Redding. The settlement eventually included the Waugh Hotel, a Wells Fargo office, a telegraph office, and the Waugh Post Office. It was named for Joseph Waugh who owned the hotel and operated a ferry across the Sacramento River at the location. Waugh also was the location of a railroad terminal in 1885.
Wengler Wengler was a small community of approximately 300 people located 11 miles south of Big Bend. Many of the residents were single men who worked for the Big Bend Wood & Lumber Company. A dance hall approximately 60 to 80 ft. long was located in the community where a dance was held every Saturday night during the summer. The Wengler Post Office was established in 1899, discontinued in 1942, and moved four times during its tenure. Named for founder Mathias who became the first postmaster.
Whitehouse Whitehouse was a gold mining town established at the site of the Central Mine once located near Keswick and Motion. The Whitehouse Post Office was established in 1893, discontinued in 1906, re-established in 1907, and discontinued again in 1913. Named for the Whitehouse & Bliss Mining Company of England who operated the Central Mine.