State of Jefferson Scenic By-Way Highway 96


The State of Jefferson Chamber offers the following tidbits to tempt you to come and see for yourself. 

Photos courtesy of Annie Buma, Rosie Bley, Tony DeAvilla, Marvin Johnston, Hazel Joiner, The Head family, Brian Helsaple, Siskiyou County Museum, Gary Rainey, Jim Rea, US Forest Service. All Photos ©1999

Dry Gulch Bridge The original road bed still seen below along the Shasta River was used until 1914. A series of five bridges, considered engineering marvels in 1929, created the new Hwy 99, now known as Hwy 263. This section of the Klamath Mountains is made up of jagged metamorphosed volcanic rocks and granite, which is geologically related to the Sierra Nevada’s.

2. Confluence of Shasta & Klamath Rivers Until Iron Gate dam was built in 1966, the Klamath River fluctuated six feet daily during the irrigation season and erratically during flood years bringing water within inches of the old bridge thus causing hazardous conditions for fishermen.

  The Shasta Tribe

The Hudson Bay trappers named the river Klamath but to the Shasta Tribe it was Klamet. The Shasta people occupied the vast area encompassing the upper reaches of the Salmon, Klamath, Scott, Shasta and McCloud Rivers. The tribe had a 4000-pound sacred boulder called the rain rock located at Gottville down river. It was deeply pocked by the hands of medicine men over the centuries, who buried the rock 200 years ago to stop the rain and the flooding. A road crew uncovered the rock in the 1930’s then taken to a museum in Fort Jones where it resides today. Even non-Indians call to request that the tribe cover the rock on special occasions to prevent rain.

1901 Ash Creek Bridge Crossing this bridge affords access to the original stagecoach trail. It wanders along the south side of the Klamath to Horse Creek, a distance of 28 miles. Hard rock miners seeking gold and bootlegging stills were abundant along this stretch. Going west you will notice tree species change from sparse scrub Oak into dense Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, Cedar, Madrone and massive Tan Oak.

4. Tree of Heaven Campground The Chinese farmed and mined this area and imported a plant called the Tree of Heaven to remind them of their homeland. Mechanized doodlebug dredges were later use to unearth the gold from this and the Humbug Creek area. Extensive trains exist at this well developed Forest Service campground that wander through river riparian habitat. Nature's diversity is described on a series of interpretive signs along the path.

5. Skeahan Bar John Skeahan and Joe Davidson were hardrock miners who dug tunnels deep into the mountain following gold veins. When one tunnel was worked out, the timbers were removed to build another leaving the original tunnel to cave back in. Before Iron Gate Dam was built 20 miles upriver, pelicans could be seen here diving on salmon and steelhead. On Sundays, during the depression era, local teenagers speared salmon selling them to onlookers for 25 cents to a dollar. One mile east of here is another undeveloped campground named Cayuse where rock hounds can easily explore the dredge tailing piles.

6. Honolulu School & Gottville In 1857, William Gott built a home and ran a post office establishing the town of Gottville to serve the 3000 miners and farmers that lived in this narrow canyon. Honolulu School was built in memory of the Hawaiian miners who ventured up the Klamath from a shipwreck on the coast. While fishing on the Klamath in 1933, President Herbert Hoover visited the school and learned of Elsie DeAvilla’s lunch program. He made a $40. Dollar donation to her "Soup Kettle" and continued it every year thereafter, considering the school his personal charity. Betty Freshour was postmaster in Gottiville from 1929 to 1942, after which the post office moved down river to the historic and still operating Quigley’s store. At that time, some wealthy property owners influenced the name change from Gottville to the present day name of Klamath River.

7. Klamath River In the late 1800’s Siskiyou Mining Co. extracted mercury from the cinnabar located up Beaver Creek. Tunnels were dug that later were used as storerooms for bootlegged whiskey. In 1890, Job Garritson built a two story hotel and resort where the wealthy people came to drink the stinky, sulfur water and soak in the heated medicinal baths. The water was said to cure blood diseases such syphilis. Bill Quigley built a home and ran a ferry on the south side of the Klamath; Willis "Moon" Quigley had a home and post office on the north side. Moon’s place was added on to and is the present site of Quigley’s store. The community of Klamath River is about 11 miles long and includes both sides of the river. Crossing the new 1998 Walker Bridge gains access to Eagles Nest Golf Course offering nine challenging holes and a great workout in a beautiful river setting.

8. Brown Bear This pleasant river access was built with slide materials in cooperation with Cal Trans and is a great launching spot for kayak and rafts. The painting at right is a mural done by a resident who visited the area in the 1950's. Its conception was based upon stories told to her by old timers who drove the stage.

 9. Horse Creek The origin of Horse Creek comes from a story told by Sergeant Sambo, a legendary Shasta Indian, whose uncle had a horse attacked by a mountain lion in the upper reaches of the creek, hence the name. A Chinese elder mined cinnabar in the 1850’s from a little gulch across the river. Robert Rainey, from Ireland, homesteaded the area in 1890 to raise cattle. A large sawmill was also in operation supplying the area with lumber.

Rainey allowed the fertile fields to be extensively dredged for gold in 1938 with the condition that they be returned to fertile farmland. Chester Barton established Horse Creek Camp, building a small store and cabins for sportsmen east of the footbridge. The Bridge has gone through several remodels and repairs and serves perpetually as access to the other side when modern bridges fail.

 10. Scott River The Scott River road was just a pack trail over which supplies were brought to the miners working the gold fields discovered by John Scott. The low flow of water in summer allowed miners to divert both the Scott and Klamath Rivers with wooden dams. Massive water wheel pumps drained the area behind the dams allowing miners to work on the bedrock. The raging waters of winter would destroy the efforts and cause re-construction again the following summer. The Scott is a challenge for experienced Kayakers and a major spawning tributary for salmon. The Lost Dutchman's Mining Assoc. owns the property surrounding the confluence of the Scott and Klamath.

 11.Hamburg at Sarah Totten Hamburg was named in 1851 by Sigmund Simon, a German miner who prospered in the mercantile business at Scott Bar. Around 1880, the population in this area was 5000 people. Postmaster Dan Caldwell built the old store in 1859 where his sister-in-law, Sarah, a Shasta Indian, operated the store/hotel until her death in 1930. Sarah donated the property where the campground is on the provision it be turned into a recreation area. Crumpled structures and rock foundations are all that remain of a once thriving town that catered to wealthy fly fishermen and sportsmen like Zane Grey. The Hamburg store, Rainbow Resort, that remains was the rivers best dance hall due to it’s specially built, springy floor.

12. Seiad Valley at Old Mans Pool Seiad is a Yurok Tribal word meaning "Far Away Land." The area was homesteaded in the 1850’s to grow vegetables and cattle for the local mining population. In 1941 a bucket line dredge chewed up 300 acres in the search for gold. Nature has worked hard to restore river riparian habitat lost to the dredge operations. This site is now where numerous species of neo-tropical songbirds gather before venturing into or out of the forest. The entire area south of Hwy 96 in this valley is also a bald eagle management area established in 1975. The mated pair has raised numerous offspring from a nest that is nine feet tall and wide, and located on the distant mountainside pictured in the background.

Two osprey nests are just around the corner from here and 8 more exist between Seiad and Happy Camp. Easy access to the Pacific Crest Trail near this site affords a stunning view with just a little walk up the trail. Back in town, Seiad store, restaurant and Post office serve the small community from a building begun as a trading post in 1927. Seiad Valley is also recognized as California’s northern most wine grape growing region. Here, White Riesling grapevines actually grow on the dredger rocks.

13. Bittenbender Slide/Portuguese Creek The geology of the Klamath River can be understood by examining the elevated ancient river channel resting on bedrock. Contrast this area to the crumbling fractured rocks just upriver. During wet years the rock and soils are know to slide abruptly down the slippery blue shiest slope. Across the Klamath are the remaining cone shaped piles of rocks that were moved by pivoting derricks used by Chinese minors. At Portuguese Creek can be found evidence of hydraulic mining. The Chinese used water nozzles fed by pipes made out of pigskin. Later goldseekers packed in 2500 feet of 14-inch steel pipe that fed three hydraulic giants. Portuguese is an excellent river access for boats, kayaks and rafts.

14. Fort Goff John Goff settled here in 1851 to mine for gold. A temporary military encampment in 1860, by soldiers on their way to the Rogue Valley Indian War, caused the attachment of the word "Fort." William, James and John Wood started hydraulic mining the area mid- 1855. They, like so many other practical miners working near creeks, ran a water-powered sawmill supplying lumber for homes and flumes.

15. Savage Rapids This is an excellent practice area for experienced kayakers who can shoot the rapids, then paddle back upriver in the slow water to try again. Below the rapids is a slow current area that allows snorkeling and exploration. The giant underwater bedrock is beaten by swift winter flows carrying rocks that extract the gold out of quartz veins. This process contributed to the fact that as late as 1988 a million dollars of gold was suctioned dredged from the water down stream. Thompson Creek, just down river, was another mining settlement called Nolton. It had a store, post office and boarding house in the late 1800’s. In 1942 a 3.4 mile long aerial tramway was built here that brought copper down from the Grey Eagle mine to a loading facility located near the mouth of Thompson Creek . This mine was the largest copper producer in California.

16. Richardson Bedrock/Reeves Ranch/Ish Kaysh Indian Lands The entire piece of property across the river was known as the Richardson Bedrock Mine. Water came from Elk Creek through five miles of wooden flume to supply hydraulic giants. The north side of the river was known as the Reeves Ranch. Reeve employed Chinese workers to grow hay for livestock and vegetables for the local community of Happy Camp.

The Karuk Tribe

The Karuk tribe purchased the land across the river to use for agricultural and tribal purposes. Happy Camp is located in the heart of the Karuk Tribe’s Ancestral Territory, The "Upriver People" have resided in small villages along the Klamath River, where they continue such cultural traditions as hunting, gathering, fishing, basket making and ceremonial dances. Their ceremonies last for several days and are practiced to heal and "fix the world," to pray for plentiful acorns, deer and salmon and to restore social good as well as individual good luck. The Karuk Tribe has demonstrated its ability to administer a multitude of social, cultural and economic programs effectively, earning the status of a "self-governance Tribe."

17. Happy Camp The name derives from the easy and rich gold picking of this large valley settlement that was first known as Murderers bar in 1851.

The James Camp Brick Store was built 130 years ago to supply the townsfolk. The 1880 census showed a population of 597, which included 97 Indians and 250 Chinese who lived in a Chinatown just behind the store. Happy Camp's colorful history revolves around gold, copper, chrome and jade mining, numerous large and small saw mills with accompanying logging, salmon and steelhead fishing, whitewater rafting, wilderness adventures, wild game hunting and wild mushroom harvest, along with an assortment of organic cultivation’s of exotic crops.

This isolated town boasts a Forest Service District office, Karuk Tribe Administration Offices, supermarket, restaurants, fuel, auto supply and hardware stores, bank, medical clinic, elementary and high schools, 3000 foot airport, RV parks, motel and cabins, mercantile and a variety of other businesses that support 1000 people.

At Happy Camp, the State of Jefferson Scenic Byway leaves Hwy 96 and climbs Grayback Mountain into Oregon. Hwy 96 continues as The Bigfoot byway to the river town of Orleans, then on to Willow Creek and Hwy 299.

18. Grayback Road/Indian Creek Road At least 20 Forest Service roads leave the Scenic Byway as you travel up to 5000 foot Grayback. These roads offer access to a variety of natural, historic and recreational areas. Beyond Grayback is a snow park, not yet accessible in winter due to poor snow removal.

19. South Fork Indian Creek Road South Fork was the source of water for the hydraulic mining at the Van Brunt mine 8 miles distant, later turned into the Happy Camp airport. The Chan Jade mine is located three miles up the road. This particular gem is specific to the area is known world wide as Happy Camp Jade. It’s easy to find in the local rock shops.

20. Indian Town and Coon Run Established in 1853, Indian Town boasted a population of 450 while Happy Camp could claim only 100. Imagine a two-story hotel, butcher shop, bakery, grocery store, school, and bowling alley, blacksmith shop and numerous hardrock mines in this canyon. The profitable Classic Hill hydraulic mine above, was owned by James Camp and Jack Titus. When a number of Chinese miners were buried in a collapsed tunnel under the mountain, the locals being a superstition bunch, refused to mine the area which brought the end to Indian Town.

Grayback Botanical Tree Tour This 8-mile ascent in elevation offers a unique opportunity to view the changing variety of tree species. Jeffery Pine, Incense Cedar, California Laurel, Madrone, Sugar Pine, Port Orford Cedar, Ponderosa Pine, Pacific Yew, Brewers Spruce, Douglas Fir and White Fir can be readily found along the road side.

20. West Branch Campground The Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) established this area as a base camp while building Grayback road. A maze of nature trails highlights this tranquil campground offering 15 campsites, potable water, and barbecue grills and vault toilets. A mile north is road 18N33 that leads to poker flat. Packers traveling the Waldo Trail rested here, as did ranchers driving cattle and sheep to Happy Camp out of Oregon. Poker flat is a lush botanical area as is Preston Peak several miles beyond.

21. Grayback Overlook A beautiful overlook of the distant Marble Mountains with interpretive panels describing forest management practices concerning fire and ecosystem management, logging, reforestation and the State of Jefferson Byway. There’s also a picnic table.

22. Grayback Summit, California/Oregon Border You have reached the 5000 foot summit with its views of the vast magnificent forest. From here you can access three snow fed lakes, Bolan, Tannen and East Tannen. Bolan is actually miss-named. In 1853, Herman Reinhart had a bowling alley and bakery that served the miners near what he called Bowling (now Bolan) Creek fed from Bowling (Bolan) Lake. Bolan Lake is seven miles distant and has 12 tent or trailer sites and a ramp for non-motorized boats. The Tannen’s are further beyond and accessible only by hiking.

23. Ferry Point In the mid-1850’s a hotel, store, dance hall school and ferry made up this small community. The ferry brought packers across the river that were traveling the Kelsey Trail from the coast. Its destination was Scott Valley over the Marble Mountains. Because holding up pack trains was very profitable, some packers who transported gold would remove the padding from their saddles replacing it with gold so thieves would be thwarted.

24. Independence Around 1925, the profitable Independence mine employed 20 people who were bunked in the building visible across the river. This site offers a beautiful rest area for those seeking a patio type picnic area with excellent river access beyond. During the spring, hundreds of Cliff Swallows claim the under structure of the bridge as a place to build mud nests. On occasion a shy herd of Roosevelt Elk can be seen grazing in the meadow across the river.

25. Coon Creek Five miles west of Independence is a lovely waterfall, wading and picnic area. On the river side of the highway an elevated view allows you to watch Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons as they soar at eye level or dive in search of prey.

26. Dillon Creek The surrounding forest features Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Madrone, Tan Oak (prized by the tribe for its sweet acorns and as a dietary staple) Pitcher Plant, California Lady’s Slipper, Waldo Rockcress and a host of other plant species. The decomposing forest mulch is the food source for the Ponderosa (White Matsutaki) mushroom. It is gathered by local and commercial mushroom pickers and exported to Japan. Dillon Creek Campground has 21 campsites, creek access, BBQ grills and water.

27. Ti Bar This massive site was home of just one giant encampment of several thousand firefighters and support personnel during the Sept. and Oct. 1987 forest fire. On August 30, 838 bolts of lightning struck the forest creating an inferno on 258,000 acres. The entire forest suffered endless days without sun that resulted in drastic temperature lows and oddly, massive die offs of the mistletoe fungus. Nine years later, heavy rains in 1998 soaked the east canyon, resulting in a million yards of mountain sliding into the Klamath, taking the highway with it. Roosevelt Elk are the largest land mammals in Calif. and are likely to be seen browsing between here and Orleans. Be Cautious, they are easily startled but on the other hand are not intimidated by vehicles. Elk can be Dangerous.

28. Hickox Mine Across the river is the Ten Eyck Placer mine, the largest hydraulic mine in the area in 1881. It was sold to Justice of the Peace/Lawman, Luther Hickox. He was said to be a mean and real tough character. The mine became very profitable, allowing Luther to be the first in the area to own a motorized vehicle. Though the roads were primitive at best, the family would walk all the way to Somes Bar where the car was parked just to take a Sunday drive. In it’s heyday, the mine was said to produce $10,000. a week after the depression. Luther would gather the family in the car, and head for San Francisco where they stayed in the fanciest hotels, ate at the best restaurants, blowing all the money until it was gone then return home to start all over again. Luther's wife, Elizabeth Conrad Hickox, was one of the best basket makers in the world (her baskets grace the Smithsonian Institute). She traded many of her baskets for food and worn clothing that she gave to family and friends in need.

29. Somes Bar Abraham Somes and William Tripp built the town in the 1850’s a mile and a half up the Salmon River to supply the miners. Floods and fires over the years caused its destruction. Somes, like most of the river towns, is just a grocery store with several private residences hidden by the forest. President Hoover had a hideaway cabin up Wooley Creek. His personal interest was partly responsible for protecting the Marble Mountains as a Wilderness Area. A distant view of Ishi Pishi Falls can be seen from the highway west of the store. While more whitewater than falls, it is unrunable by rafters. Following Ishi Pishi road behind the store for a half-mile will lead you to a magnificent aerial view of the confluence of the Salmon and Klamath Rivers. This area can be accessed and many find the shad fishing excellent.

Osprey Sites Along the 180-mile length of the Klamath, many nests can be seen built on top of sturdy trees overlooking the river. The pioneers regarded the Osprey as the fish crow. Upon its arrival in April, the bird fishes constantly, many times watched by the opportunistic Bald Eagle who loves to steal the catch.

30. Orleans Established in 1850, New Orleans Bar was "white man’s campground" to the Karuk Tribe. The existing historic hotel was a payroll station for the military post and stopping point for pack trains. The first bridge to cross the Klamath here was built in 1912 and destroyed by a discarded cigarette in 1921. The present suspension bridge was the last of its type to be built in the nation. Orleans was suggested to be the Western White House for President Hoover. Many dignitaries and famous people were lured to the area by its remote attractions. Orleans has a Forest Service District office, gas, grocery’s, restaurant/museum, lodging, RV parks, medical clinic, retail stores and guide service.

The State of Jefferson Chamber welcomes your visit to its Mythical State.