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As It Was: Delta Wildfire Named after Short-Lived Railway Boom Town

In September 2018, a wildfire exploded in northern Shasta County alongside Interstate 5, its 300-foot-high flames forcing freeway motorists to ditch their vehicles and run for their lives.  The fire burned 63,000 acres of timber and brush, as well as 120 structures, including a handful of homes and commercial buildings in the sparsely populated area.

The conflagration became known as the Delta Fire, named after a short-lived town of a century ago.

For a time, Delta became a bustling community when railroad tracks were constructed northward out of Redding in 1882, following the Sacramento River and stretching through the mountains.  Other settlements popped up around the railroad stations of Antler, Dog Creek, Sims, Gibson and Castella.

Delta was born in 1884 where construction had temporarily halted.  Thinking another economic boom was ahead, merchants from Redding and Shasta opened up shop, turning Delta into an urban center almost overnight.   

The town disappeared as fast as it had been built when railroad construction resumed the following year.

The railroad continued northward until it met its southbound track in Ashland in 1887.
 

Smith, D. (2018). Shasta County History – Shasta County History. [online] Shastacountyhistory.net. Available at: http://shastacountyhistory.net/index.php/2018/03/02/shasta-county-history/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2018].

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.