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As It Was: California Stations Improve Stage Travel

A frequent stopping place in the 1800s for travelers moving north into Trinity and Siskiyou counties was located at Cottonwood, Calif., between Red Bluff and Old Shasta.  Among the travelers were freight and emigrant wagons, pack trains, foot travelers, and miners.

Most emigrant wagon trains chose the Noble’s Road route, leaving the Oregon-California Trail via the Humboldt Sink at the Lassen Meadow cutoff, then on to Honey Lake Valley, and continuing north of Manzanita Lake toward Cottonwood.  By 1850, there was a primitive road between Red Bluff and Shasta, while the roads south of Red Bluff to Marysville were in much better shape.

Stations along the route provided resting places.  With steamboats unloading freight at points along the Sacramento River, the stations were conveniently spaced to accommodate pack trains and freight wagons.  The five stations between Red Bluff and Cottonwood were named Two Mile House, Four Mile House, Nine Mile House, Prairie House, and Taylor’s Ranch.

From the popular Prairie House, the road wound down toward the Taylor Ranch and then to the Clanton Brothers’ station, established in 1849. 


Source: Nielsen, Beatrice W. “The Saga of a Trail.”  The Covered Wagon, 1968, Shasta Historical Society, pp. 5 – 45.

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.