The Magnificent Sierra

It was the obstacle that the California-bound pioneers feared the most: crossing the formidable Sierra Nevada. Stretching from just below Lassen Peak in the north to Tehachapi Pass in the south, the Sierra is a single mountain range about 400 miles long, varying in width from 40 to 80 miles. Except for the angle of the state of Continue reading The Magnificent Sierra

Shasta County Then & Now

Shasta Cnty Sundial BridgeWhen it was established in 1850 upon statehood, Shasta County abutted Oregon and covered 20,000 square miles—about five times its present size—including land that was later separated into Modoc, Siskiyou, and Lassen counties.  It was named after Mount Shasta, which was originally within the county boundaries but Continue reading Shasta County Then & Now

June Events: Ascending Mt. Whitney

Mt. WhitneyBecause it is the highest peak in the contiguous United States, scores of mountaineers have made it their goal to reach its 14,505-foot summit since its official discovery in 1864. But who was the first to stand on its lofty heights? Geologist Clarence Continue reading June Events: Ascending Mt. Whitney

Over the Precipice

covered wagon

Have you ever wondered how the westward-emigrating pioneers of the 1840s and 50s managed to get their covered wagons over the cliffs and precipices they encountered as they passed through mountain ranges? They emptied their wagons and lowered them, one by one, with ropes.   Still hard to visualize, isn’t it—perhaps because our brains are too attuned to the freeway-everywhere-automotive-comfort-world we live in. Next time you travel Interstate 80, look down into the forested chasms around Donner Lake. How did they get over those formidable heights and drops?  Sheer fortitude—their ropes and wheel blocks and winches were just tools.