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Sawyers Bar Catholic Church Spans 161 Years

Residents of Sawyers Bar built a Catholic Church of locally produced lumber in 1855 on a sloping bench above the North Fork of the Salmon River.  A six-foot wooden cross that stands in front was the only item that originally distinguished it from the area’s other buildings.

The building has six windows, three on each side. They offer the only interior light; moreover, the glass was originally painted white with a cross etched into the center of each pane to simulate stained glass.

Henry L. Walsh wrote, in 1948, “...This modest little house of worship that still graces the heights of Paradise Flat is the most valuable relic still left...of the pioneer missionary era of the Catholic Church in Northern California. It is the oldest in point of time and retains more of its original form than any of the former century.”

Christine Sellman, the 1977 Curator of the Siskiyou County Museum wrote, “It is also a direct link to the past as it is still a living facility, in use for the past 120 years.”

Today the Sawyers Bar Church has stood its ground despite fire, drought, and every other natural or man-made disaster since 1855.


Source:  "Sawyers Bar Catholic Church." National Register Of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form.” United States Department Of The Interior/ National Park Service, 1977. Web. 20 July 2016.

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.