Historic Resource Study
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The majority of the existing historic features within Whiskeytown National Recreation Area relate to mining and milling activities during the period from 1880 to the present. The gold rush placer mines of over a century ago cannot be distinguished from the occasional revivals of placer mining during the late nineteenth century and the depression years. However, an on-site investigation of the hills in Sections 4 and 9, north of Whiskeytown Lake, revealed rotted and buried pieces of wooden flumes, and configurations of abandoned earth-water reservoirs, which may date to the pre-1880 placer period. More scientific techniques will be needed to determine their approximate age.

Several "shallow pockets" were also found on steep hillsides, nearly impenetrable with scrub oak and poison ivy. These gouged holes in the quartz walls probably remain from the period between 1900 and 1926, when such short-term mining techniques were popular.

Considerable evidence exists to indicate the mining activities at the Ganim, Desmond, Sunshine, and Mount Shasta mines. These sites show all or some of the typical quartz mining components—water reservoirs, timbered mine shafts, mining equipment, large tailing dumps, quartz-ladened rock debris, frame or tin structures, fruit trees, and fragments of daily living (plates, bottles, cans, etc.). At the Ganim and Sunshine mines water has filled in the shaft tunnels, and in the Sunshine Mine fig trees have nearly obscured sight of the rock-walled tunnel opening.

At Paige Bar, near where the B. H. K. dredge operated in the 1940s, the gravel still borders Clear Creek in wide bands and no doubt has been exposed to placer and dredge mining activities from the earliest period until the establishment of the recreation area. In the western third of the park, near the Tower House Historic District (covered in a separate report by this writer and David Henderson, architect), Clear Creek still runs free and along, or close to, its original course. (The writer did not walk along the creek bed in search of existing historic features, but the persistent mining along the banks of Clear Creek in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has undoubtedly left some visible traces, as well as several suggested features to remind the visitor of earlier times.)

The El Dorado quartz mine, one-fourth of a mile south of the Tower House district, already has been restored to operating condition by the National Park Service with the advice of a mining engineer who volunteered his experience in and knowledge of gold mining.

Most of the narrow dirt roads now used for park visitors' sporting jeeps originally led to mining or milling operations some distance from the main thoroughfare between Shasta and Weaverville. Thus many of the visitors to the recreation area have no access, other than by foot, to the Desmond, Mountain Monarch, Ganim, and Sunshine mines. The only mine readily accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicle over a dirt road is the Mount Shasta Mine in the southeast quarter of the park, not far from the relocated Whiskeytown cemetery. This small pocket of historic features also falls within an area mined heavily off and on from 1850 to about 1941, and thus holds an excellent potential for the interpretation of all aspects of gold and copper mining.

To the west of Paige Bar, cabins—reportedly built by Clinton Peltiers as a summer camp in the 1940s—stood on a hilltop of some 2,000 feet, reached now only by truck or jeep. He built these cabins at the time his family raised cattle and carried on selective lumbering there. In the 1860s pioneer Hugh Shuffleton took out a patent on this land and also used it for cattle grazing, so the Peltiers continued the historic use of the property. [1]

The cabins have been removed and the area is used as a backcountry campsite, by permit only. The location, close to a stream, in the coolness of a forest setting, can be especially appreciated during the blistering hot summers endured historically in the Whiskeytown area.

About one-half mile southeast of the Peltiers cabins, the outline of several rock walls can be seen amongst thick brush and wild-grape bushes. Reportedly a writer from the east during the 1920s built trout streams and ponds here in hopes that a business would flurish—perhaps foreseeing the forthcoming development of the area for recreation. How long he remained at this idyllic spot was not determined from this research. [2]

To the northeast of the Peltiers cabins, via a very rocky, narrow, and steep road (nearly washed out in sections) traces of what appear to have been a milling operation can be seen—perhaps remnant of the Mountain Monarch or Happy Jack mining activities in the early twentieth century.

Nearby Brandy Creek, partly lost to Whiskeytown Lake, has been historically active as a water source for placer mines and sawmills. No doubt the surrounding areas still possess many traces of times past, however the writer did not walk Brandy Creek, or any of the other creeks frequently referred to in this report.

What has been labeled "the Draft Dodgers Cabin" stands in a remote section of the park, northeast of Little Bally, and has not been visited from the ground by recent National Park Service employees. Aerial photographs show the cabin in the middle of a cleared meadow in a forested, mountainous setting. According to oral tradition, this cabin was used by World War I draft dodgers and was left fully equipped and furnished when the National Park Service took over the land. [3]

The principal historic residential areas within the park now lie under the waters of Whiskeytown Lake, with exception of the Tower House district which once maintained quite a mining population, and the ground at the mouth of Grizzly Gulch, where a roadhouse stood during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The existing complex of structures and cabins composing the park's National Environmental Education Development (N.E.E.D.) camp at Paige Bar were built around 1960 by the Northern Valley Baptist Church and adapted to park needs after the land was purchased in 1968. [4]

Finally, a walk or a drive over the park areas away from the main roads immediately exposes remains of structures, mines, artifacts, and orchards from prior occupancy which cannot be definitely identified in this report, and which, for the most part, reflect random squatting in the area for mining and other reasons from the depression years to recent times. [5]

After this report was completed but not yet printed, Robert Grom, Chief, Interpretive Activities Branch. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, located physical remains of what may have been a section of the Clear Creek Canal. The Clear Creek Canal was constructed in 1855 to provide a dependable water supply for the numerous mining claims between the Tower House and Middletown, some forty miles to the southeast (see chapter 1, "Mining Claims and Structures"). Following the traces of a large ditch near Clear Creek south of Whiskeytown Lake, Grom discovered the possible remains of a 460-foot tunnel cut through hard rock to carry the canal water to its destination. On the eve of its opening in 1855, the canal was thought to rank among the most costly and durable mining enterprises of its kind in the state with more than fifty miles of ditches and aqueducts.

Additional ground investigation will be needed to locate all the ditch remains within the park, and further study will be necessary to confirm that these historic features constitute vestiges of the Clear Creek Canal.

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Last Updated: 11-Dec-2009