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As It Was: Shorty Noble Leaves Name on Trail to the River

A trail in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness is named Shorty Noble Way for a miner who declared in a 1978 interview that he was “the last free man.”

Noble came to the United States after serving in the German Army during the First World War.   He declared he became a bum, hopping trains and doing odd jobs as he slowly moved West.  He became a prospector in the Siskiyou Mountains, but never found much gold.  In 1929, Noble built a cabin out of sticks and what resembled salvage from a dump.  He made furniture from similar materials. 

Noble stayed at home year-round, tinkering with projects, which included building a space ship with an ambitious goal of traveling among the stars.  He grew carrots and shot deer with a .22 caliber rifle for food.  He had no electricity and didn’t want it.

 “I live all natural,” he liked to say, and attributed his long life to his diet.  Shorty said he liked his life in the woods, enjoyed visitors, and denied being a hermit. 

After his death, the cabin was burned and his ashes scattered around the site.  His trail to the river was given his name.

Sources: “Salvaging the Shorty Noble Trail." Siskiyou Mountain Club, Siskiyou Mountain Club, 18 Mar. 2017. http://www.siskiyoumountainclub.org. Accessed 24 Jan. 2018. Path: http://www.siskiyoumountainclub.org/shortynoble/; Nelson, Becky. "The Last Free Man." Grants Pass Daily Courier, 8 Oct. 1979, p. 4+.

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Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.