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Scenic Byway Offers Historic Stops

California Route 96, variously referred to as the Klamath River Highway, the Bigfoot Scene Byway and the Jefferson State Byway, features a number of historic stops.

The Shasta tribe called the river “Klamet” and the Karuk called it “Ishkeesh.”  To reach Highway 96 from Yreka, motorists go north on Highway 263, built in 1929.  It has five substantial bridges, including the Pioneer Bridge, all considered engineering marvels in the 1930’s.  The original roadbed, built in 1914, can be seen below, wending along the banks of the Shasta River.

One of the locations of interest along Route 96 is the Tree of Heaven Campground.  In the 1800’s, Chinese farmed the flat land here and sold the produce to nearby miners.  They imported the tree from their homeland. To the west is Humbug Creek, an area that was mined extensively and later dredged.

Another point of interest is the 1901 Ash Creek Bridge. Here hard rock miners blasted tunnels to follow gold veins on the opposite side of the river.  A still built there in the late 1800’s, called “The Dutzie,” provided whiskey to miners.

Today the Tree of Heaven is a public campground.

Source: "State of Jefferson Scenic Byway." State of Jefferson Byway. Siskiyou County CA Online Directory, 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2015. .

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.