Sunday, November 13, 2011

Auto Parks in Yreka!

My title

An early photo of the Yreka Auto Park situated along Yreka Creek.

Between the advent of the popularity and affordability of the automobile with the improvements made in roadways and "highways", especially the Pacific Highway which opened in 1913 (later rebuilt in newer sections and dubbed Highway 99) travel became a very popular past time for individuals and families. Yreka, the County Seat of Siskiyou was happily situated in the main route as the road traveled right through the center of town.

Most of the main roads or routes went from town to town as travelers would have a better opportunity to meet up with needed services. Taking along camping gear was also a "convenience" issue as folks knew breaking down was a possibility away from towns. It was also very convenient as well as an adventure! Many travelers thought themselves as pioneers and were able to camp on the outskirts of towns or anywhere along the road, it was inexpensive and many vacation destinations offered little in the way of accommodations.

In 1916 a editorial type article was written in The Siskiyou News stressing the need for an Auto Park in Yreka. The beginning of the article stated: "Yreka is acquiring a reputation among tourists for its lack of hospitality!" The article went on to argue that most towns along the state highway has a small piece of land for this purpose, the town businesses have profited from sales of groceries, gas, auto repair and other needs of the traveler.

Within a short time Yreka did have an auto camp, and eventually more than one that met the needs of the camping enthusiast. A interesting recount of staying in Yreka in 1922 by a family that wrote in their local paper (from Estherville, Iowa) said of their experience:

"We camped for the night at Yreka a pretty little place in the foot hills of the Shasta Mountains, where we were provided with free camp grounds with free water, electric lights, 'shower baths, comfort station and brick ovens for cooking."

Later on these free Auto Camps turned into offering small cabins for the traveler and more comforts and convenience. There are a few of these later enhanced auto parks that have remnants of earlier days still visible here in Yreka, but are quickly fading.

Copyright: Claudia A. East

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yreka on the Silver Screen

The Gillis Mansion on North Oregon Street, Yreka was turned into the home of the reining "cattle baron".

In September of 1977 the Quinn Martin Company (who produced full length TV movies) came to Yreka and the surrounding area and filmed what was to be titled “Legend at Sundown” entirely in Siskiyou County. Later during the editing the name of the film was changed to the title of “Standing Tall”. It was a movie that depicted the depression-era times of Montana. The story was about a young rancher, Shasta, who is given a rough time by the reigning cattle baron. One individual, Leeland Cook, who appeared in the movie was a former Yrekan and went on to appear in many western movies. Also starring in the movie was Linda Evans, then most known for her roles in the TV series, Big Valley. In addition Robert Forester plays the hero, Luke Shasta and was opposite the villain in the script with the ruthless cattle baron, Chuck Connors. (of “The Rifleman” fame) The role Connors played was described by the Siskiyou Daily News as “a villain who has absolutely no redeeming traits”.

Below are interesting tidbits:

· In the film a scene was filmed at the Ft. Jones Community Hall and the building was turned into the Benteen Community Hospital.

· Rodeo scenes were shot at Pleasure Park Area in Etna and local residents dressed up in 1930s style clothing and became part of the rodeo crowd.

· The Gillis Mansion on the corner of North Oregon and Yama Streets was used for interior scenes. The home (in the movie) belonged to the “evil” cattle baron (Chuck Connors). The filming was done during daylight hours, but the windows were draped with black curtains on the outside to simulate nighttime.

· The “first voice” one hears when the movie begins is the voice of Ron Lillard. Ron a local man, was the manager of the Siskiyou Golden Fair at the time. During the opening credits he is heard as a country-western disc jockey on a car radio.

· Some of the places (as listed in 1978) to look for in the film include: Lake Siskiyou, the former Siskiyou Stockyards, Little Shasta’s Johnson Ranch, Edgewood’s Gragnani Ranch, the town of Callahan as the town of Benteen, the Park Motel in Yreka and the City Hall at Fort Jones. Also the line shack at the Ben Brazie Ranch, mountain scenes at the Fred Burton Ranch (Forest House Ranch), party scenes at the Gillis Mansion, (then the Gordon Dunlap Home) and a kitchen scene at the Roland Dexter home in Montague.

Note: Information was obtained from a file in the Meamber Collection at Yreka Preservation. The Meamber's assisted the filmmaker in providing historical information about the Depression Era and about Siskiyou County and Yreka for this film.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2010. This article, written by Claudia East, was recently published in the monthly newsletter, Echoes, by Yreka Preservation.