Gail Fiorini-Jenner

As It Was Contributor

Gail Fiorini-Jenner of Etna, California, is a writer and teacher married to fourth-generation cattle rancher Doug Jenner. They have three children, seven grandchildren and live on the original homestead.  Her first novel Across the Sweet Grass Hills, won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of JeffersonThe State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.  She co-authored Historic Inns & Eateries in the State of Jefferson, featuring 30 locations and their recipes. Fiorini-Jenner has placed in several writing contests: The Jack London Novel Contest; The William Faulkner Story Contest; The Writer's Digest Inspirational Story and Screenplay Contests. She appeared on History Channel's  How the States Got Their Shapes,  and NPR's West Coast Live. She also writes for Jefferson Backroads.  

Relations between whites and Native American tribes throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon were rarely easy, and for many years, devastating for native peoples.  After gold was discovered in 1851 near today’s Yreka, Calif., hostility and violence grew.

Donald Meamber never forgot the time baseball great Babe Ruth visited Yreka and its grade school.  Meamber, who grew up in and around Yreka during the 1920’s and 30’s, was in the fifth grade at the time.

Lost gold mine legends haunt the West, among them the story of the Lost Cabin Mine in Northern California.  The story starts with three men, Messieurs Benedict, Cox and “Young Compton,” at the headwaters of the Trinity River in the summer of 1850.

Located on the Klamath River, the remote community of Happy Camp has never been easy to get to. Today it’s a long drive from Yreka down crooked State Route 96.  In the early 1900’s, it was more complicated. Summer travel was fairly easy, but winter travel was another story.

The Great Depression brought many settlers to Siskiyou County from the towns, cities, and flatlands of California.  Historian James McNeill has written that people built shelters wherever they could along the streams and rivers, including tar paper-covered bark shanties.

John Daggett is best known for establishing the Black Bear Mine along the Salmon River in Siskiyou County.  However, Daggett was more than a miner.

On July 10, 1949, the “Shasta Daylight” set out on its inaugural 713-mile trip from Oakland, Calif., to Portland, Ore.  It was the first diesel-powered train owned by Southern Pacific, the company’s third “Daylight” streamliner, and its only long-distance one. It made the trip in 16 hours, averaging about 45 mph.

Hester Ann Harland was the wife of Francis “Frank” Harland, the manager during the late 1800's of the Black Bear Mine located in the Liberty Mining District and the Salmon River country of Siskiyou County, Calif.

Yreka, Calif., stonecutter James B. Russell and his school teacher wife, Clara, lived a long life together.

Born just over the California-Oregon border, James accompanied his family to Yreka as a child. The family moved to Ashland for several years, but James eventually returned to Yreka and started his own business in 1881.  He became a stonecutter and monument builder, following in his father and mother’s footsteps.  His mother’s finely detailed, decorative stone work won the grand prize in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair.  Yreka’s Siskiyou County Museum featured the winning piece for many years.

James became an avid collector of mineral specimens and jewel stones and frequently exhibited his collection.

Clara Russell, born Clara Millie Hovey, was a gifted writer and schoolteacher. The couple were married 60 years and raised five children.  After her death, he published many of her poems.

A stage coach station known as Starveout was once located about three miles south of Grenada, Calif, The first mention of “Starveout” is in a book by Helene Bacon Boggs titled “My Playhouse Was A Concord Coach.”  Starveout was a “swing station,” with a 10-minute stop versus 30-minute stops at “home stations.” Starveout got its name most likely because the area was not just remote, but also desolate and dry.

When Irish immigrants Patrick and Bridget McGrath Kiernan came across the plains in 1854, Bridget was pregnant with the first of their seven children -- two sons and five daughters. The couple settled close to Gazelle in Northern California’s Siskiyou County.  They raised cattle and ran a butchering business under their O-K brand, named for the original family name, O’Kiernan.

Similar to recent trends, Siskiyou County in Northern California experienced less rain and warmer winters in the 1920's.

Mount Shasta’s snow pack nearly melted away, and its glaciers began to melt, sending water cascading down the sandy, rocky slopes.  Historian Gerald Wetzel says that during the hot summer of 1924, a “damaging flow of water and mud from Konwakaton Glacier and Clear Creek” rumbled down Mud Creek canyon.

According to Wintu Indian tradition, the first people ate their food raw for lack of fire until Coyote helped out.  He led the Wintu north until they came to a house where two women cooked over a fire.

A proposed Shasta County courthouse will be built where the Adolph Dobrowsky house sits at 1720 Yuba St. in Redding, Calif.  The historic Craftsman style home was built in 1927.

California Route 96, variously referred to as the Klamath River Highway, the Bigfoot Scene Byway and the Jefferson State Byway, features a number of historic stops.

George Gibbs traveled with Indian Agent Col. Reddick McKee on his 1851 expedition to Northwestern California to meet with tribes and explore the region.  Gibbs’ journal describes some of the customs of the Indians of coastal and inland Northern California. Until the account was published in 1853, little was known about the mountainous region.

It's no secret that whiskey was about as essential to the early miners as beans and coffee.  They could buy whiskey wherever any supplies were sold, and some locations kept nothing else but whiskey shipped by the barrel on the back of a mule.

The Yreka Journal ran this announcement on July 16, 1887: “The new town of Mott, near the town of Sisson in the Mt. Shasta neighborhood, was named after Mr. Mott, the energetic and popular roadmaster of the Railroad Company, who supervises the wagon road building for accommodation of the railroad’s construction of its track, and repairs or replaces roads where the track damages or follows established roads. The North Star is the new newspaper being published in this town, the paper having been started recently by Goldsten and Kernan.”

Early pioneers had a great fear of Indian attack.  One settler named Price, assisted by Sam Hadley and a few other neighbors, took matters into their own hands by constructing a small, fort-like stone structure at the head of Northern California’s Shasta Valley.

Two early settlers, Henry D. Wright and Charles H. Fletcher, mined successfully in Oro Fino in Siskiyou County, Calif.