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As It Was: The Old Stage Road Opens Siskiyou County to Travel

Until 1859, foot trails were the only way in and out of Siskiyou County, Calif.  Regional tribes, including the Shasta, Karuk, Modoc, Pit, and Wintu, had forged the trails, with the exception of some opened by the Hudson’s Bay Co.

Willard Perrin Stone decided to do something about the lack of roads into the county.  His brother, Norton Stone, had built a stage road from present-day Modoc County to present-day Redding, which was later abandoned after a serious attack by Pit Indians.

Willard, assisted by his father, Siskiyou County District Attorney Elias Stone, received a state franchise to build a road to Sacramento and to operate a stage coach on it.  On Dec. 26, 1859, Willard mounted his horse and road to Red Bluff, where he boarded a steamboat for Sacramento. The trip took two weeks.

The Stones, along with Nelson Harvey Eddy, then joined together to form the Stone Road Co.  The stage road was dangerous, but it opened the area to travel. Twenty-five years later, Willard Stone’s son helped lay the roadbed for the rails of the first California to Oregon railroad.

Source: Stone, Mrs. Leland M. “The Old Stage Road--Yreka to Pit River.” The Siskiyou Pioneer, The Siskiyou Pioneer. 2nd ed., Yreka, Siskiyou County Historical Society, 1984, pp. 102-105.

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.