Southside Ruins

Southside Ruins (HM1C75)

Location: Shasta, CA 96087 Shasta County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 35.888', W 122° 29.467'

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The Southside Ruins marker consists of 9 plaques which depict the history of these former Shasta business buildings and the history of the town of Shasta itself. The 9 plaques are in groups of three, four and two and are presented below from east to west. Click on the photograph of each plaque to enlarge the captioned images.

Preserving the Ruins
Imagine returning to your childhood home and finding it in ruins. That was what Mae Helene Boggs found when she visited Shasta in 1930. In response, Mrs. Boggs began a campaign to preserve Shasta. For over half a century, California State Parks has worked with concerned citizens like Mrs. Boggs to preserve this important part of California's gold rush history.
Mae Helene Boggs moved from Missouri to Shasta in 1871. Although she left soon after for Redding, she always considered Shasta her home.
(center) California State Parks has completed three projects to preserve the Southside Ruins. The first was in the 1940s, the second in the 1970s, and the most recent in 2008.
(right) Staying on the boardwalk and leaving the bricks where they are helps to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the Southside Ruins.

From Showpiece to Ruins
Although the brick buildings survived the fire of 1878, they could not withstand the ravages of time. Played-out mines and changes in transportation led to the decline of the town. By the 1930s, the once proud brick buildings were simply shells of their former selves.

In 1872, the railroad arrived in Redding, making it the new commercial center of Northern California.
(center, left) Brick buildings, including the Charter Oaks Hotel, were used for construction materials in Redding.
(center, right) Wooden porches, awnings, and stairway collapsed as a result of neglect, vandalism, and repeated snowstorms.
(right) Tin roofs were removed from buildings to help with the war effort.

Bricks... the Answer to Fire
California Gold Rush towns faced many threats including lawlessness, played-out mines and floods. Fire, however, was the biggest danger. After two devastating fires in less than a year, Shasta rebuilt its thriving commercial district in brick. Although much of the town burned in 1878, the brick buildings on Main Street survived.

Jacobson & Co., a wholesale and retail clothing company, built Shasta's first brick building in 1853.
(center, left) The Bull, Baker & Co. building, built in 1853 for $15,000, was the most expensive building in Shasta at that time.
(center, right) Anything to win a few bucks! In 1854, Tomlinson and Wood won a $600 bet when they rebuilt their store in 13 days.
(right) Iron shutters over the doors and windows helped protect the buildings against fire and theft.

Survivors of the Gold Rush
California Indians have lived here for thousands of years. One local tribe is the Wintu who lived off the abundant natural resources in the areas. Their way of life changed dramatically in 1848 when gold was discovered. Miners and settlers occupied the Wintu lands. Lawmakers and newspapers called for their removal and even extermination. In spite of all this, the Wintu survived.

"Hydrauliking" fouled the clear streams with mining debris, leading to the disappearance of the Wintu's important food sources, like salmon.
(center) In 1851, a treaty established a 35 square-mile reservation for the Wintu was signed at Reading's Ranch. The United States Congress refused to ratify it and 17 other treaties, leaving many native people homeless.
(right) Many Wintu continue to live in their traditional homeland. Monitoring archaeological sites, like Shasta, helps preserve their cultural heritage.

A Diverse Community
By our 21st century standards, Shasta was a segregated community, for its time, however, it was a place of opportunity for people from a variety of backgrounds. Many who faced discrimination elsewhere prospered in Shasta.

Emanuel Lewin; Lewin, Isaacs, and Levy were among the dozen Jewish merchants living in Shasta by 1856. They helped form the Shasta Hebrew Benevolent Association. The Association cared for the sick and buried the dead according to Jewish rites.
(center, left) Phoebe Colburn; Benjamin Young, Phoebe Colburn and Alvin Coffey were successful African American pioneers. In the early 1850s, Young operated a barbershop on Main Street.
(center, right) Frank Litsch and the Litsch store; Thousands of European immigrants came to California to try their luck in the gold fields. Frank Litsch, Augustus Grotfend, and Adolph Dobrowsky all became successful American businessmen.
(right) Not everyone was welcome on Main Street. Chinese miners, in particular, faced discrimination. Although Shasta had one of the largest Chinese populations in the state, they could not live in the main part of town. Instead, most Chinese lived nearby in an area called "Hong Kong" where they operated hotels, stores, saloons, gaming houses, and places of worship.

That Gold Rush Spirit
California's Gold Rush was a boom and bust era. Businesses and buildings rapidly changed hands. Sometimes owners returned home. Other times they simply moved a few doors down, taking advantage of lower rent. One thing was certain, you could never be sure if your favorite store would still be in business the next time you came to town for supplies.

Over the years, Shasta residents picked up their mail at 28 different locations, including several Wells Fargo offices located where the Southside Ruins now stand.
(center) Where was Grandpa's store? The many changes in ownership created messy and unclear chains of title for buildings and lots.
(right) Companies that sold goods on credit to unsuccessful miners often went out of business.

Supplying the Miners
Most early residents of Shasta came in search of gold. Many, however, decided that providing goods and services to miners offered greater riches than mining. Their businesses included bakeries, banking and assay services, restaurants, saloons, and bookstores, to name a few.

Alpheus Bull spent 1849 successfully mining for gold. The following year he co-founded Bull, Baker and Company and sold supplies to other miners. The company soon became the largest wholesale business in California. In 1857, Bull sold his shares of the company and moved to San Francisco.
(center) Harvard educated Dr. Benjamin Shurtleff came to California in search of gold. He spent only six months mining before turning to other pursuits. Shurtleff was active in early Shasta politics. He later opened a drugstore along Main Street while still continuing to practice medicine. In 1851, Shurtleff built the first mansion in Shasta.
(right) In 1855, three years after it was founded in San Francisco, Wells Fargo established a branch in Shasta. The company offered banking services to miners and greatly improved mail service to the town. Today, Wells Fargo has become one of the largest banking institutions in North America.

From Miners to Merchants
By 1849, gold in nearby streams ran out, Miners moved to sites in the Siskiyou and Trinity Mountains known as "the northern mines." While other California Gold Rush towns died when their gold source disappeared, Shasta thrived by becoming the main supply center for the northern mines.

Because of the region's rugged terrain, Shasta was as far west as stagecoaches and freight wagons could travel.
(center) Miners working the northern mines relied on pack trains of oxen, mules or horses to bring them their supplies. The starting point for the pack trains, Shasta was known as the "Head of Whoa! Navigation."
(right) By 1854, Shasta was home to California's longest row of brick buildings north of San Francisco. Bakeries, saloons, hotels, banks, grocery, and clothing stores were just a few of the businesses.

Location - The Key to Success
On July 1848, Pierson B. Reading found gold in nearby Clear Creek. When word got out, miners rushed to the region. By summer of 1849, several hundred were camping at "Readings Springs" and panning for gold in local creeks and streams. Over the next year, the community of tents and temporary structures grew into a town. In 1850, residents officially named the town Shasta.

Early immigrants in search of gold reached Shasta by traveling up the Sacramento River or overland on the Nobles Trail.
(center) Readings Springs was located 5 miles from where Reading discovered gold.
(right) Oak, pine and manzanita covered the nearby hills. The trees provided fuel for cooking, lumber for building and shade on hot summer days.

HM NumberHM1C75
Placed ByShasta State Historic Park
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 26th, 2014 at 2:37am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)10T E 543056 N 4494272
Decimal Degrees40.59813333, -122.49111667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 35.888', W 122° 29.467'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 35' 53.28" N, 122° 29' 28.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)530
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 15275 Eureka Way, Shasta CA 96087, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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