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California Parks Revive Gold Rush Holiday Celebrations

It’s been more than a century and a half since the miners of 1849 headed from Shasta to Whiskeytown, Calif., to celebrate the holidays. 

This year the National Park Service and California State Parks are following the Forty-Niners’ footsteps by organizing an “Old Time Holiday” celebration on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Shasta State Historic Park and the Tower House Historic District.  They are in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area located along Hwy 299 west of Redding.

Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., activities will range from candle and ornament making to live music by the French Gulch Whiskeytown School, the Old Time Fiddlers Association and the Sweet Adelines.

The original settlement is covered by Whiskeytown Lake, a reservoir dedicated in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. One of Shasta County’s first gold mining settlements, the town went through a series of names before Whiskeytown stuck, including Whiskey Creek Diggings, Whisky Creek, Franklin and Franklin City.

By 1855 the population had reached 1,000 gold miners and the town had become an important freight stop for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.


Sources: Smith, Dottie. "Travelin' in Time: Whiskeytown earned its name as a drinking town." Record Searchlight, USA Today Network, 8 Apr. 2010, www.redding.com/lifestyle/travelin-in-time-whiskeytown-earned-its-name-as-a-drinking-town-ep-376971871-355306491.html. Accessed 26 Nov. 2016; "whiskeytown national recreation area and shasta state historic park partner for the annual old time holiday celebration 2016." National Park Service Find Your Park, U.S. Department of the Interior, 26 Oct. 2016, https://www.nps.gov/whis/learn/news/whiskeytown-national-recreation-area-and-shasta-state-historic-park-partner-for-the-annual-old-time-holiday-celebration-2016.htm. Accessed 26 Nov. 2016.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.