Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yreka a major stage destination!

Yreka, Miner Street View Circa 1905

Yreka was considered a major hub in the transportation world of Northern California for over 100 years. Yreka is half way between San Francisco and Portland and was also the major starting and ending point for most of the smaller towns and villages for a great many miles. The "stage" brought so many important things to the community. Mail being one of the most important. The miners would come to town to wait for the mail, and near the stage stop folks met and talked over all of the news of the day. In Yreka the main stage stop was along Miner Street right at or near the Franco-American Hotel. The post office was also located nearby.

The stage office (often called the express office) was a thriving business. There were big steel strapped boxes often filled with gold dust that were lifted up into the front boot under the drivers seat and secured by lock and chain to the floor. This was a security measure so if some enterprising thief wanted to hold up the stage for the gold they would have to wrangle this off themselves. On board the stage was a Express messenger that carried a sawed-off shotgun loaded with buck shot. The cost of running the stage company was no little amount, estimated to be an annual expense of $40,000 in addition to paying tolls over many of the roads they traveled. This could amount to another $12,000 a year for the rights to use the roads.

The California and Oregon system is reported to have used about 430 miles of roadway and its branches alone served from Redding to Roseburg, via Yreka, Ashland and Jacksonville; Redding to Yreka, via Shasta, Tower House, Trinity Center, Callahans, Etna and Fort Jones and others. This operation alone utilized nearly 400 horses with 20 drivers in the summer and 26 in the winter. There were 50 stablemen, 6 mechanics and horse-shoers in addition to the clerks in the offices. They ran 16 stages in summer and 21 in winter besides 2 large sleighs over Scott Mountain in snow time. Horses had to be changed every 12 miles and a new driver took the reins each 10 hours. And, this was only one of many stage lines that came through Yreka.


Nite Herder said...

When I was living on French Street in the late 40's. there was an old lady who lived there whose local fame was that when she was a little girl she was a passenger on a stage which was robbed at a place on the Fort Jones road known as "robber's rock" (this at a point not far from where the road forked, with one fork going to Fort Jones and the other headed south toward Mt. Shasta). As I recall the story, the robber stepped from behind a very large bolder by the side of the road with a gun in his hand, forcing the stage to stop. He took money from the passengers and the driver and made his get away. Don't know if he was ever caught or not.

Anonymous said...

You can still see "Robber's Rock" today going on Hwy 3 from Yreka to Fort Jones! It is almost at the summit and off the main road just a short distance to the south. It has a brass marker on the rock.