© 2022 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
KSOR Header background image 1
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

As It Was: Wild Ride Down Mountain Scares Judge

Judge John Grider arrived in Siskiyou County in 1888 to visit his mother in Scott Valley.

He boarded a stagecoach in Yreka driven by Johnny Mack, who promised to get Grider to Fort Jones by sunset.  On the way, Grider grew irritated at Mack’s slow pace and frequent stops “to cut off a plug of tobacco, crumble it into a pipe and deliberately take his ease in smoking.”

Mack assured the judge, “My friend, if I don’t put you in Fort Jones before sunset, I will refund your stage fare and pay your hotel bill.”  He invited Grider to join him on top of the stage.

Reaching the summit of the mountain eight miles out of Yreka, the horses began racing down a crooked, narrow road to the valley below.  Grider feared one wrong move or mechanical error would spell doom, but Mack proclaimed that in 20 years he had never been accused of reckless driving.  They reached the valley floor an hour before sunset.

Grider admitted later that he had come to admire Mack, and told others to shut their eyes and put their trust in the driver.

Source: Johnny Mack (and) the Stage Ride He Gave an Eastern Tenderfoot in ’88. From the information files at the Siskiyou County Museum [Yreka, CA], date unknown.

Lisa Gioia is the director of the Siskiyou County Museum in Yreka, California. She is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a B.A. in anthropology (1997), a Master’s Degree in History with a minor in public history (2008) and specialized in oral histories.