Located less than 5 miles from Redding city center, Shasta Ghost Town is the unique remains of one of California’s busiest towns during the gold rush of the early 1900s. The town has now become a state park, and it is literally on the highway that you would take to get to Whiskeytown Recreation Area. It is an easy stop; you just pull off to the side and park along the road. Because of this, it is an excellent recommendation for a place to spend 20 minutes or half a day.
While there is not a lot of stuff to do here, it is still a unique area to explore for an hour and to see how people lived during this part of our history. It doesn’t cost anything, and you can read and tour the placards and ruins yourself, taking as long as you would like.
A bustling town from the 1850s through the 1880s, Shasta was for its time, the most significant settlement in Shasta County and the surrounding area. Sometimes referred to today as “Old Shasta,” the town was an important commercial center and a major shipping point for mule trains and stagecoaches serving the mining towns and later settlements of northern California. The discovery of gold near Shasta in 1849 brought California Gold Rush-era Forty-Niners up the Siskiyou Trail in search of riches – most passed through Shasta and continued to use it as a base of operations.
Situated about six miles (10 km) west of Redding, California along Highway 299, Shasta was once home to some 3,500 residents and a thriving commercial district. However, in the mid-1880s, the newly-constructed Central Pacific Railroad bypassed Shasta, in favor of Redding and the town declined into “ghost town” status.
The town has everything from a blacksmith’s shop to a brewery, but some of the standout parts for me were the old remains of the central city walkway. While not a lot of it remains, you can walk in and out of the shops and see the broken-down walls to picture what it would have looked like in its heyday.
Across the street, there is also a beautiful old barn that was built in the mid-1800s and moved to the spot it is in now. It also has a stagecoach and some other farming tools there.
Right next to the barn is a set of picnic benches if you want to have a leisurely lunch with your family.
Next to that is also the oldest mason building in the United States. Even though it is not technically part of the park, it is still a beautiful building to see.
What’s cool about this park is you can see all it has to offer in less than 30 minutes, but you can also spend all day if you are a history buff. It has a lot of beautifully restored vintage buildings to interact with, and for historians of that time period, there is a lot of history to uncover here.