As one travels through the country occasionally you come upon a little town which you just seem to make a connection with. Quincy, where we are now, is one of these, and McCloud is another. Back in 2012 we stumbled upon McCloud on one of our ‘Day Trips’ while we were camping over near Mt. Lassen. We had driven to Burney Falls, and I wanted to show Marcia Mt. Shasta so we continued down highway 89 and there was McCloud. We only spent 30-45 minutes there, but we both liked it, and as I did research on it, I liked it even more.
McCloud is an old Mill Town, built and owned by the McCloud River Lumber Company. They built the store/hotel (first picture), a railroad, and many homes. If you worked for the Lumber Company, they essentially provided you everything you needed…for the right price of course. It all started out small, and as the company grew, the need for more workers grew, the need for a larger Mercantile Building grew, the need for more housing grew. According to the real estate records, the Mercantile was considered California’s first mall with the many departments under one roof.
Most of the houses along many of the streets look very much alike. The picture to the right is a row of homes which are connected together with a garage connecting each home. I am sure when they were first built, there were no garages…and now these old homes make up an Apartment Complex of five or six residences.
This complex is having a long overdue facelift. My guess is that it originally was like a large dormitory type of building housing newer workers until they could save up enough money to rent their “own home”. Rent because the Lumber Company owned every building inside the town.
Of course the “big bosses” had to have “big homes”, and these all seemed to be located on the north-west side of the town.
This home, which is very large and hidden by a lot of trees, appears to me to have been added to and modernized…but ‘I think’ its origins dates back to the the time of when the lumber company still owned the town…but it is possible it was built after that.
This is the McCloud River Inn -- Bed and Breakfast. It was built in 1903 and served as their administrative offices, town bank, and telephone switchboard for McCloud's telephone system. Originally it was half the size it is today, with additions made in 1906 and 1920. In 1963, U.S. Plywood purchased the mill, railroad and town. This building continuing to serve as the administrative offices. In 1965, U.S. Plywood transferred town properties to John W. Galbreath and Company. It started to sell the houses to those living in them. The administrative office continued to be their company's headquarters.
Large Lumber Companies back then typically used narrow gauge trains to help with the transportation of the harvested trees to the lumber yard, and then the finished product to the larger train tracks to get their product to the buyer. You can see that in a heavy snow area like McCloud, the engine was also a snow plow to clear the lines.
The McCloud Railroad had a large reach…covering much of Northern California and Southern Oregon.
For such a small town, population of just over 1,000, there sure is a lot of nicely kept older homes and buildings. Upper left is another Bed and Breakfast, upper right is the Dance Country building, and the lower picture above is the Heritage Junction Museum. The museum was built originally for a employee recreation and pool hall. The AFL-CIO occupied the building in 1943 and purchased it in 1964. With the closing of the mill at the end of 1979, there was no need for a Union, and in 1984-85 they donated the building to the up and coming museum which was first housed in an old railroad car (below).
Today there is no “big industry” in McCloud. For awhile it looked like the Nestle Company was going to open one of the nation’s largest bottled water plants on the site of the old mill (originally-planned 1,000,000 sq ft facility), but concerns about them taking out too much water from the water shed created too much red tape, and Nestle gave up on the proposal. Nestle sold the mill to McCloud Partners, LLC. which is trying to bring industry back to the community. Without this industry, one would think the town would shrivel up and die…but it seems to survived on the tourist industry -- ski and snow activities in the winter and fishing, hiking and camping in the summer. The people are so very nice, the town looks nice, and other than the heavy snow in the winter, it is a great place to settle down. Now, before anyone gets any ideas…we are not moving to California due to the high taxes, the extreme political climate, and did I mention the high taxes? However, there are a number of places within California which are great places to settle down…and McCloud sure seems like one of them.
We enjoyed our brief visit to McCloud, and we are now enjoying Quincy. Tomorrow we move back to Truckee for a day, and then back to Citrus Heights for a few weeks. We still have not decided where we are going to travel at the end of July and the first few weeks of August...perhaps a trip up the Oregon Coast and Washington Coast might be in order....