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September 6, 1862: Bass’s Ranch

September 6, 2012

[Today] Averill and I were up at the first tints of dawn and had our wagon loaded before sunrise. While waiting for breakfast, which we got at a neighboring house, we had a most glorious sunrise, the sun rising directly beyond the high, snow-covered Lassen’s Butte. The peak was gloriously illuminated. We drove into town, where the rest had gone the previous evening, and started. Schmidt and Hoffmann were barely able to ride, Rémond had to be left behind. So we left a barometer with him, that he might keep up a series of observations to aid us in our determinations of the height of Mount Shasta.

We started east, crossed the Sacramento, struck northeast, passed through Buckeye, and camped at Bass’s Ranch, seventeen miles from Shasta. The Sacramento is a clear, swift, cold stream, in a narrow valley, almost a gorge where we crossed it. Then we rode over a table-land, much gullied into gulches, covered with sparse, scattered trees, such as are indicative of an intensely hot and dry soil and climate. Scattering gold diggings occurred the whole way, but all were dry now—they can only be worked in the wet months. We arrived at Bass’s Ranch, in a very pretty but dry valley, at noon (thermometer 100°), where we held up for the day. Heat, watching, anxiety, and perhaps also indiscretion in eating had almost made me sick again.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2012 11:19 am

    It must have been beautiful to see that stretch of the Sacramento River; I imagine that this region is underwater nowadays, part of Lake Shasta, no?

  2. William H. Brewer permalink*
    September 6, 2012 12:49 pm

    I think that stretch of the Sacramento where they crossed probably is inundated–Keswick Reservoir, I think, a smaller lake downstream from Lake Shasta.

    The country they rode through is still above water, though. Buckeye is still there, and as near as I can tell, Bass’s Ranch is near present-day Mountain Gate (Exit 687 off I-5).

  3. September 8, 2012 5:14 pm

    The most common Shasta to Buckeye river crossing of the time was at the Waugh Ferry, located where Middle Creek enters the Sacramento. This would be just downstream from Keswick Reservoir. Modern day travelers will find this as part of Redding’s wonderful Sacramento River Trail system.

    You’re correct on Bass Ranch being located at Mountain Gate though. Bass Mountain, just to the west of the town of Mountain Gate still bears the old-timer’s name.

    The scattered gold diggings along the route, an area known as the “Old Diggins,” still attract some weekend miners during the wet season. We don’t find much.

    Love what you’re doing with this classic California journey and happy to have discovered it today!

  4. William H. Brewer permalink*
    September 9, 2012 6:44 am

    Thanks for the clarification and added historical context, Rich. And thanks for your kind comments–I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

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