Cottonwood’s origins, from small 1850s townsite to 1890s growing RR hub

Author: Jeremy Tuggle – Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

In 1899, Cottonwood was located eighteen miles south of Redding and seventeen miles north of Red Bluff. It was located on the county line between Shasta and Tehama Counties, and on the California and Oregon railroad which included a busy railroad depot that made it a major shipping location.

The town also featured a hostelry owned and operated by A.M. Dunham, a bakery owned and operated by a man with the surname of Moore, a church, livery and feed stables, and a general merchandise store owned and operated by John Pfeifer and W.F. Price.


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Above: these structures were erected in the 1870s and 1880s, and they remain standing in Cottonwood today on the east side of Front Street. Date unknown. From the collection of Jeremy Tuggle.

T.R. McClabe was the post master at the Cottonwood post office, and he delivered the mail to a townsite with a population of 450 people, that year. Cottonwood was also home to the Thatcher Lumber Company which was managed by W.F. Smith, at that time. Local resident, A.B. Gilliland was the physician and surgeon in town as well. Cottonwood continued to thrive into the 20th century.  


This community has a long history that dates back to 1846, when Captain John C. Fremont named the nearby creek for the abundance of Cottonwood trees in the area. The townsite eventually took its name from Cottonwood Creek. During 1850, all of the townsite was located in Shasta County.

SEE: Exploring Shasta County History with Jeremy Tuggle:

Bella Vista: A lumber town

The life and times of William B. Smith (1859-1917)

Simeon Fisher Southern and the Hazel Creek area

Exploring the rich history of McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Nathan A. Townsend: The man behind the historic Townsend Flat Ditch

Kimball Plains: Exploring the history of a former western Shasta County settlement

Cottonwood was established on the south side of the creek, the settlement stretched from Ludwig Gulch west of the Red Bluff-Shasta Road to nearly the same distance on the east side. The town’s first post office was established in 1852. When Tehama County was created in 1856, Cottonwood Creek was selected as the towns northern boundary which made Cottonwood a two-county town.

Above: the same row of historic structures located on the east side of Front Street on September 6, 2020. This photo was taken by Jeremy Tuggle.


  • 1899 City Of Redding Directory
  • 1900 U.S. Census
  • Shasta County, California A History by Rosena Giles, published by Biobooks, ©1949.
  • U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971

Meet the writer: Jeremy M. Tuggle
Education and Community Engagement Manager – Shasta Historical Society

Jeremy M. Tuggle, born in Redding, is a descendant of 11 pioneer families who settled Shasta County between 1849-1889. Jeremy attended Shasta College and is the author of two published books, Rooted in Shasta County (2003), and A Journey Through Time: Ono and the Bald Hills (2008), as well as various articles on local history.

In 2017 Mr. Tuggle was awarded a Community Service Award, a prestigious national award for community service in historic preservation, by the Major Pierson B. Reading Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Jeremy is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, and an Eagle Scout.

Tuggle has been employed at the Shasta Historical Society since November of 2009.   In his present role as Education & Community Engagement Manager, Jeremy conducts research for the historical society’s programs and events, contributes to the Society’s social media presence, and ensures the highest quality guest and patron experience at our programs and community events.

Mr. Tuggle enjoys sharing his knowledge of local history and events, and is available to community organizations to present programs about Shasta County history.  

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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.