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 mid 1800s. The town is now a state historic 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.
- Cost: Free
- Location: 15312 CA-299, Redding, CA 96003
Shasta State historic park is located 15 minutes from Redding on Highway 299. The park itself right not he highway as you drive right through it. There is parking on both sides of the road if you want to get out and explore.
The state park now has around a dozen or so buildings dating back to the 1800s, and there are information plaques along the way that will tell you more about each of them. Most of the remaining buildings were built from brick because the city had two major fires that burned down many of the businesses and the owners decided that brick buildings would be the best way to prevent that. The town eventually met its decline when the railroad decided to stop in Redding instead of Shasta, forcing many of the business owners to move in order to stay afloat.
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.
If you are looking to explore a little more, you can take the ruins trail, which goes above and behind the brick buildings and gives you a different perspective. It also allows you to see the devastation of the Carr Fire in 2018 that came through the area.
As you finish your time, you can also explore a few of the cemeteries they have outside of the town, or you can see the grave of the Pioneer baby. Which has it’s own unique story you can read in the description.
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.