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As It Was: Early Agriculture Develops Near Northern California Gold Fields

Located near the gold fields of Siskiyou, Klamath, Del Norte, and Trinity counties, the Scott and Shasta valleys became early Northern California areas to be developed agriculturally.

A story in the San Francisco Bulletin left no doubt about the astoundingly rich land in some remote regions of the state.  Wrote one correspondent about Scott Valley, “I have seen here some timothy meadows as handsome as ever mowed in Ohio, perfectly level and smooth, and with the stubble so thick that a board laid down edgewise would hardly penetrate to the earth, and this without irrigation, so far as I could perceive.”

Areas in Eastern Siskiyou County remained relatively idle from an agricultural point of view due to conflict with local indigenous tribes and the distance from markets.  The only markets available to farmers was at Camp Bidwell, at the northern end of Surprise Valley, and Camp Warner, 60 miles to the north.  Over time, the valleys of Pit River became attractive destinations for farmers. 

Early settlers eagerly awaited the completion of the California to Oregon railroad, which reached Red Bluff on Dec. 13, 1871.


Source: Jones, J Roy. Saddle Bags in Siskiyou. Happy Camp, CA, Naturgraph Publishers, 1953, pp. 146-148.

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.