Historic Data Inventory of the Shasta County Interlakes Special Recreation Management Area

Author(s): Dottie Smith

Editor(s): Eric W. Ritter

Year: 1995


In 1994, the author was contracted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to complete a historical (pre-1945) assessment of the Interlakes Special Recreation Management Area of western Shasta county, California. This rugged mountainous zone is located between the communities of French Gulch on the west and Shasta Lake city (Central Valley -summit City) on the east. The Sacramento River and Clear Creek are the principal drainages and the Klamath Mountain ranges in the locality have had both a constraining and influential effect on past activities. This study area comprises approximately 74,845 acres, or about 117 square miles, and includes within its boundaries both private lands and public lands managed by the Forest Service (Department of Agriculture), the Bureau of Land Management (Department of the Interior), the Bureau of Reclamation (Department of the Interior), and the National Park Service (Department of the Interior) .

Rich mineral resources, in addition to hydroelectric development, have heavily influenced historical events and are discussed at length in this report. Also of importance has been the development of transportation routes such as roads and railroads and the establishment of settlements alongside them including French Gulch, Keswick, Shasta, Redding, and Shasta Lake City.

Early entries by Euroamerican trappers and explorers in northern California had little effect in the study area. Historic Native American uses were quickly curtailed by the miners and aside from a few Indian allotments, cemeteries, and noted places, their presence was soon centered elsewhere in the county. The post-contact history of the Native American Indians is not a focus of this report.

This history deals with people and places, as well as gold and copper mining and hydroelectric power development, the two major industries undertaken within the study area. Mining can be divided into three distinct episodes. The first, the Gold Rush, erupted in 1849, peaked in the 1850s, and faded by the late 1850s. Soon thereafter, government surveyors began laying out township, ranges, sections, and mining properties. Early placer mining efforts during the Gold Rush were gradually, but not totally, supplanted by later hydraulic, lode, and dredge techniques. The second major mining type was copper mining which became a major industry in the 1880s and replaced gold in 1896 as the number one mineral produced in Shasta County. Copper mining was a tremendous economic stimulus to Shasta County as was gold mining previously. Copper was mined until 1969 with peak productions years occurring from 1897 to 1919 and during 1924 and 1925. Gold production peaked again from 1908 to 1915, and once more from 1936 to 1941 during The Depression when the price of gold rose from $20.67 to $35.00 an ounce. This price increase sparked renewed interest in gold mining and attracted thousands of hungry and homeless people into California who engaged in mining as a new way of life. An aftermath of copper smelting was severe regional environmental damage; reclamation efforts began soon thereafter and continue to this day.

The second major industry was large-scale water control, and resulting hydroelectric power development, which commenced in 1938 when construction began on Shasta Dam, the key structure of the Central Valley Project and one of the nation's major water development projects. This vitally important dam and all of its downstream related structures are discussed briefly in this report.

Cite this Record

Historic Data Inventory of the Shasta County Interlakes Special Recreation Management Area. Dottie Smith, Eric W. Ritter. Cultural Resources Publications - History. Redding, CA: Bureau of Land Management. 1995 ( tDAR id: 394045) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8028SV9

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.988; min lat: 40.38 ; max long: -122.071; max lat: 41.299 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Submitted To(s): Bureau of Land Management

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