Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Old Town of Shasta

 Shasta County August 29, 1993

Heading west on 299 from Redding to the old town of Shasta, lets pause with a long draw from a can of crème soda from the famous local bottler. Mmmmmm

‘It Hasta Be Shasta’
That’s right, the soda that comes in cherry, pineapple, chocolate, and a gaggle of flavors that make wonder why, originated in these parts. Just about the first folks to use cans as well.

‘A group of businessmen opened a health and vacation resort at the site and featured naturally carbonated spring water. The pure spring water was so enthusiastically received by visitors that the men formed Shasta Mineral Springs Company and began bottling and selling the carbonated water throughout the Pacific West Coast.’
– Shasta bottlers.

Not a mining town, Shasta was the transportation hub to the northern mining district with up to a hundred mule trains stopping over nightly on the route from Sacramento 190 miles to the south. Today, a lot of  town’s structures survive because they used brick and iron shudders in trying to make things ‘fireproof.’ After Shasta was bypassed by the California and Oregon railroad in favor of Redding six miles away, Shasta suffered the indignity of some of its brick hauled away for construction there.

“There are brick ruins of the old town of Shasta on Highway 299 West between Redding and Whiskeytown Lake. The site features an 1800s bakery, blacksmith, Mason's Lodge, and a courthouse museum.
In the belly of the Courthouse Museum is the old jail, and in one of the cells the "ghost" of a prisoner wakes up and tells you about the criminals that were tried (and hanged) at the jail.
There are also short hiking trails around the site that lead to 1800s cemeteries. In the spring there are native poppies growing all over the place.” [Mary Hanson, 07/28/2009]

Writer and poet Joaquin Miller (remember him from Battle Rock?)  talks about Shasta in Life Amongst the Modocs, based on his life in the area in the 1850s. He describes his brief incarceration in the Shasta jail for horse stealing and escape with the aid of his first nation wife. One would suspect a liberal dose of poetic license in this story as stealing a horse was about the worst crime imaginable at the time and almost always got the thief hung within a few hours.  

Plaque inscription: NO. 77 OLD TOWN OF SHASTA - Founded in 1849 as Reading's Springs, the town was named Shasta June 8, 1850. It was the second county seat for Shasta County, 1851-1888, and the metropolis of northern California during the 1850s. Here, until 1861, the road ended and the Oregon pack trail began. It is the home of the Western Star Lodge No. 2, F. & A.M., whose charter was brought across the plains in the Peter Lassen party of 1848. In 1851, Dr. Benjamin Shurtleff, pioneer physician and Shasta's first and only alcalde, built his home. The Shasta Courier was founded in 1851. The entire business section of Shasta was destroyed by fire in 1853.
Location: Shasta State Historic Park, State Hwy 299, NW corner of Main Stand Trinity Alley, Shasta
Coordinates for state historic park, not plaque.
Google maps: 40.599291,-122.492173

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