Exploring Shasta County History: A Hidden Highway Under Whiskeytown Lake?
The Shasta to Weaverville Road or the Weaverville to Shasta Road has been well traveled by pack trains since 1850. It was often deemed as a “hard road to travel”. However, developing this trail into a wagon road was a slow process until it was debated by the California Legislature in the State Assembly and the route was finally authorized to be changed to an official wagon road in April of 1854, by them.
LEADING THE SCNS HEADLINES:
From an excerpt of an article published by the Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, on January 6, 1855, it’s learned that, “The (Trinity) Times says a wagon road is now being built between Weaverville and Shasta, which will be completed, perhaps, by the 1st of May next.” It was William S. Lowden (his surname is sometimes spelled as L-O-U-D-E-N), a resident of Weaverville, who was awarded the contract for the project which could be completed for $19,000, it allowed one thousand dollars of that money to be utilized for incidental expenses and surveys.
Danger Sunken Road, a warning for boats on Whiskeytown Lake. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on March 19, 2022.
During the course of construction for this route it was Lowden who established the Shasta and Weaverville Wagon Road Company, on June 22, 1857, with John C. Burch as Secretary, and W.C. Tinnin, as Treasurer, of this company. Their capital stock was not released to the public. However, the construction surpassed the date given in the above excerpt and the Shasta to Weaverville Road wasn’t opened for public travel until late December of 1857, as a toll route, yet road work was still in progress on the route in the upcoming months, and stages weren’t able to travel on the new road way yet.
Above: The Shasta and Weaverville Wagon Road Company! – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, June 27, 1857
A considerable amount of rain fall in March and April completely damaged the new road to the point that major repairs were made by the Shasta and Weaverville Wagon Road Company, and because of the rain it delayed the arrival and journey of the first stage across this route. The first stage to complete the journey and arrive in Weaverville from Shasta was a stage belonging to the California Stage Company, of Shasta, which reached Weaverville on April 25, 1858. This road now allowed dependable travel for people riding horses, driving wagons, stages, and pack trains from Shasta to Weaverville, and from Weaverville to Shasta, as travelers populated this dusty route.
It became a portion of Main Street in the town site of Whiskeytown, and was constructed through the area, and then in 1878, this route was placed into a graded condition. This route was shortened at great expense, that year, and a trip to Weaverville from Redding could be made in twenty-one in and half hours, which was claimed by travelers traveling this road from Redding to Weaverville or Weaverville to Redding passing through steep grades and sharp turns which are still prominent features of this highway today for automobiles travelling along the present-day U.S. Highway 299 route.
Above: notice that the name has Weaverville instead of Shasta leading the name of the company. The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, August 8, 1857.
The first realignment to this pioneer route was done in 1923, and after the new improvements were made, it remained in use until 1934 when this road became a major part of the U.S. Highway 299 route. Beginning in 1934, it was officially called U.S. Highway 299 or Highway 299, and the route remained driven until the 1950s when another realignment improvement was made and rerouted farther east. The old route was abandoned.
SEE OTHER RECENT ARTICLES FROM: Exploring Shasta County History with Jeremy Tuggle:
Above: Rates Of Toll – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, June 12, 1858.
Between 1960-1963, the construction of Whiskeytown Dam occurred with the contract being let by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to Gibbons & Reed Company, of Salt Lake City, Utah. Here a brand-new dam was being built by them from which a lake would cover the Whiskeytown townsite and an original stretch of this roadway by the creation of Whiskeytown Lake. The dam when completed was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy, on September 28, 1963. Presently, this route is also known as the Trinity Highway.
Painted lines on the former highway are still visible. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on March 19, 2022.
Every winter, Whiskeytown Lake is lowered by ten feet, and a lost portion of U.S. Highway 299 reveals itself south of the present-day stretch of highway near the present-day weigh station along the highway opposite of the historic Ganim mine. When the lake is full only a small section of this abandoned hidden road can be viewed by foot (in-part) or by kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake.
A low Whiskeytown Lake reveals one of its many hidden secrets as Jeremy M. Tuggle poses in front of it for a photograph on March 19, 2022.
- Shasta – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, April 13, 1852
- Shasta – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, June 14, 1852
- California Legislature – Fifth Session – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, April 15, 1854
- Trinity River Correspondence – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, May 20, 1854
- From Weaverville – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, January 6, 1855
- Trinity River Correspondence – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, February 17, 1855
- Trip To Weaverville – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, October 13, 1855
- Report of the Wagon Road Committee – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, June 20, 1857
- Organization Of The Wagon Road Co. – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, June 27, 1857
- Wagon Road Meeting And Report Of Survey – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, July 25, 1857
- Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors – Aug. Term – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, August 8, 1857
- Wagon Road Meeting – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, August 15, 1857
- The Wagon Road – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, August 15, 1857
- The Trinity Wagon Road – The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, August 22, 1857
- Weaverville Wagon Road – The Sacramento Union newspaper of Sacramento, September 1, 1857
- Hurrah For The Wagon Road – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, October 3, 1857
- Wagon Roads – The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper of Sacramento, October 16, 1857
- The Sacramento Valley And Weaverville Wagon Company – The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, October 16, 1857
- Shasta And Our Neighbors – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, November 7, 1857
- The Wagon Road – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, November 28, 1857
- Progress Of the Wagon Road – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, December 26, 1857
- Trinity Wagon Road – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, February 6, 1858
- Wagon Road To Weaverville – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, March 27, 1858
- Improvements As We Go – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, March 27, 1858
- The Trinity Wagon Road – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, January 2, 1858
- The Road – The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, January 16, 1858
- The Louden Road – The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, March 13, 1858
- Increased Travel To The North – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, September 11, 1858
- Staging To Weaverville – The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, April 24, 1858
- Trail To Weaverville – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, April 24, 1858
- To Weaverville – The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, May 1, 1858
- Teams To Weaverville – The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, May 15, 1858
- A Bad Road – The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, November 20, 1858
- Bill Lowden declares… – The Trinity Journal newspaper of Weaverville, December 18, 1858
- The Redding And Weaverville Stage – by May H. Southern, January 22, 1933, sketch by Mabel Lowden Moores, 388 – P. 1086; VF 388.0 Roads/Trails Misc., Roads/Trails 1086, available at Shasta Historical Society in Redding.
- My Playhouse Was A Concord Coach, an anthology of newspaper clippings and documents relating to those who made California history during the years 1822-1888, by Mae Hélène Bacon Boggs. Published by Howell-North Press ©1942
- Shasta County, California A History by Rosena Giles, published by Biobooks, ©1949
- Historic Resource Study Whiskeytown National Recreation Area by Anna Coxe Toogood, May 1978, Denver Service Center, Historic Preservation Team, National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior
- Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, by Al M. Rocca, Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 3, 2010) ISBN10: 1451568533,ISBN-13: 978-1451568530
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, 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 the Visitor Services Associate, 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 the Society’s programs and community events and is available to community organizations to present programs about Shasta County history.
Contact the editor: [email protected]
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.