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As It Was: Once Bustling Mill Town of Upton, Calif., Has Short Life

The town of Upton is among the many that no longer exist in Northern California’s Siskiyou County.

It grew up around a small mill that operated in the early 1900s two miles north of Sisson, the present-day town of Mount Shasta, Calif.  The mill opened to provide the newly developing railroad with railway ties and wood for fuel.

Soon a box factory, a planer mill, and a sash and door factory opened a half mile south of the town.  Most of the town’s residents and workers were Italian immigrants attracted by mill jobs in the Shasta area.

The town grew and included a store, post office, and school.  By 1903, the one-room schoolhouse became too small for the bustling community, requiring an additional classroom and teacher to handle more than 90 students.

The opening of the nearby McCloud River Lumber Co. forced closure of other mills, and the Upton school enrollment had dropped to 35 or 40 students by 1905. 

The last teacher at the school was Mrs. Swayne, who had a school-age child.  She was the granddaughter of the abolitionist John Brown of Harper’s Ferry fame.

Source: “The School at Upton...” Siskiyou Pioneer and Yearbook, 1955. Vol. 2 No.7. Siskiyou County Historical Society, p. 35.

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.