Gold Towns: Weaverville

Located 2,011 feet up at the foot of the present-day Trinity Alps Wilderness area, Weaverville sprang to life in what was one of the wildest and most inaccessible regions of California. So inaccessible, in fact, that the town didn’t receive stagecoach service until April 29, 1858. Before then, residents had to make their way on horseback to Shasta City to board public transportation. Nevertheless, Weaverville was once the center of great mining activity. Founded in the summer of 1850, it was named for John Weaver, a gold prospector who had arrived in the vicinity the prior year. In 1851 the camp consisted of one round tent and four log cabins, but two years later the settlement had grown so large that a hospital was established, and also a school—evidence of a number of resident families, several of whom established small farms and ranches. However, that year fire destroyed nearly half the town, and two more in 1855 burned 29 houses and many commercial buildings. Townspeople reconstructed with brick; by 1859 twenty brick buildings dotted the streets. Like other mining towns, Weaverville contained several saloons, and experienced its share of booms and busts and violence. Mining apparatus included gold pans, long toms, and rockers, until these techniques were later supplanted by hydraulic mining. The LaGrange mine just out of town was once the world’s largest hydraulic mining operation.  Home to 2,000 Chinese gold miners by 1854, the Chinese Tong War that year occupies a place of note in Weaverville’s history. Easily reached today via State Route 299, Weaverville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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