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African-Americans Find Work in Weed, Calif.

Gertrude Price Wardlow, who moved with her husband to Weed, Calif., in 1920, described the part of town where African-Americans lived as a snow-covered mountainous area known as Railroad Avenue.

Danny Piggee, who arrived in 1923 to work at the Long-Bell lumber mill, recalled, “Weed was a miracle for Black people for work...You could just almost pick your jobs when I came here. And it was a lotta, lotta Black folks here.”  Piggee earned an astounding $5 a day as a skilled worker while most blacks earned $3.50.

By 1923, Weed was clearly a segregated town. African-American families were provided company-built houses on Dixie, Texas, and Alabama avenues. Tent Street was established in 1924 when over-crowding prompted the company to provide tents as temporary dwellings. According to Mrs. Wardlow, “People started putting foundations around [the tents] and this ‘n’ that until they lived in them.”  

The mill continued to attract African-American workers through the 1920’s.  Weed remained a company-owned town until 1956, and incorporated in 1961. Although the number of African-Americans residing in Weed began to fall when the lumber industry faltered, its population was 9.3 percent black in 2000.

Sources:  Langford, James. "The Black Minority of Weed: Its History, Institutions and Politics." BlackPast.org. 1984. Web. 19 Feb. 2016. < http://www.blackpast.org/perspectives/african-americans-shadow-mt-shasta-black-community-weed-california#sthash.h4LGiu4Y.dpuf>.

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.