Until 1860 only a dangerous pack trail through the upper Sacramento River Canyon linked Oregon with California's northern mines. Yreka's merchants and settlers also wanted a safer wagon road. William H. Brewer
The rugged terrain defied road building efforts until the Upper Soda Springs-Pitt River Turnpike Company built 44 miles of road from Upper Soda Springs (North Dunsmuir) to Stone's Pitt River Ferry (now under Lake Shasta).
Elias Stone, born in Pittsford, N.Y., founded his turnpike company with sons Norton, Willard, Lloyd, Marvin, and William plus kinsmen Edwin Stone and Pembroke Murray.
The road builders used man- and animal-power plus black powder to carve a road along the canyon walls. Twenty-one log bridges were sited by block and tackle above all high-water marks.
South from Soda Springs the road ran along the west bank via Dog Town, Hales Ferry (Antlers), east over the ridge to McCloud River, then to Pitt River and Stone's Ferry. Another road lead to Shasta, 'Queen City of the Northern Mines'.
The fierce winter storms of 1860 washed out most of the road. Undaunted, the Stones in 1861 rebuilt their toll road but again they suffered setbacks as torrential rain again flooded the canyon.
The company struggled on with low tolls, high repair costs and legal problems. In 1868 new
owners took over.
After 1870, use of competing routes declined as freight teamsters, U.S. Mails, and stage drivers used Stone's more direct road. In the 1880s, the Central Pacific laid rails to Oregon using some of the old Stone turnpike roadbeds.
Stones' route was later paved as the Pacific Highway. Upgraded, it became U.S. 99, and in the 1960s, was rebuilt as Interstate 5.
In 1862, a Geological Survey leader enroute to Mount Shasta wrote "...most picturesque road I have ever traveled. Sometimes down to the level of the river - sometimes crossing ridges, sinking into ravines - sometimes a narrow way where two wagons cannot pass for half a mile... the road is pretty well engineered ..."
Up and Down California
1860 - 1864