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Callahan Store Known as Biggest Little Store in the West

Across from the Ranch Hotel in Callahan, Calif., sits The Callahan Emporium.  Recently reopened in 2011, it was originally a lodging house called the Baker Hotel run by Mrs. Ella Paxton Baker from the late 1800’s until 1912.

Later Dick Hayden owned, and Charlie Thompson operated, a revamped store and adjoining bar. Thompson took credit for dubbing the two-story store the Emporium.  The store carried everything, from groceries, meat and produce to work clothes, boots and other hardware and knick-knacks. It was often said that the Callahan Emporium was the “biggest little store” in the West.

Although today’s Callahan population has dwindled to fewer than a hundred, Callahan was once a booming gold mining community, settled in the 1850’s. Gold seekers streamed in from the Trinity mines on their way to Yreka or Oregon.

The Emporium’s bar is still a local hotspot, owned and run by “Callahan Fran,” but it features an antique bar that was moved from a saloon originally located in South Fork Town, a few miles up South Fork of Scott River near the old Montezuma Mine. The bar was moved to San Francisco for a time before being returned to Callahan.

Source: Kinney, J.O. "Callahan Store and Bar." Vol. 3. Siskiyou Pioneer and Yearbook. Ed. Evelyn Carter. No. 7 ed. Yreka: Siskiyou County Historical Society, 1964. 62-64. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.