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Artist and illustrator James Mason Hutchings

James Mason Hutchings traveled through California and southern Oregon in the gold rush era of 1854 and 1855, taking photographs, creating sketches and detailed illustrations for newspapers and magazines, and keeping a diary of his adventures.

After spending Christmas of 1855 in the town of Shasta ("Old" Shasta near Redding) he and his companions moved north past Weaverville and into what is now Siskiyou County. By mid-January they crossed out of the Trinity River drainage and down into Scott Valley, spending nights at Callahan's Ranch, Godfrey's Ranch near the small military post of Fort Jones, then Mountain House, a tavern on the trail to Scott's Bar.

From Hutching's journal January 18, 1855: "Leaving the Mountain House, I ascended the mountain by a tolerably good trail--but the descent towards the river and the bar is long, steep and in many places slippy from so much of the melting snow having frozen in the trail. It is called 7 miles from the Mountain House to the river. Forded the stream--full of large pebbles and is difficult. The other 4 miles to the bar I thought rougher than the hill. Coming down the mountain there is a fine view of the hills beyond the river. I reached the bar about ½ past 1 o'clock p.m. and was rather surprised to find it so small and "wooden" a place. There is no hotel in the place--you get beds here and meals at the restaurant. Several gambling saloons. The Scott River here is remarkable for its richness. During the summer of 1854 there was as high as $6,351 taken out of the Jackass company's claim in one day--and that only a portion of the Scotts Bar company's claim.

Discover more of Huntching's illustrations and stories, including the mining town of Yreka and an illustration he created of "that king of California mountains--Mount Shasta" at Southern Oregon History.

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