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Literature of Mount Shasta

Excursion of Yreka's Brass Band to Summit of Mt. Shasta

From The Siskiyou Coal Mine and Other Stories

© 1982 Cy and Sally Rippon

Reprinted with permission.
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Yreka Journal-August 31, 1892-
A dispatch published in the Trinity Journal of Trinity County, 34 years ago (1858,) stating that the Yreka Brass Band would make the ascent of Mt. Shasta and play "Hail Columbia on the Summit, has caused the Sisson Mascot of Siskiyou County, to come out with an article saying it is quite certain the trip was never made;--So here is a chance for the Sisson Cornet Band to distinguish itself by making such a trip!-Sisson Mascot.
- - -
The worthy Editor of the weekly Sisson Mascot is certainly in error on the above, in proof of which we (Bob Nixon of the Yreka Journal) publish the following item of the trip, copied from the weekly Yreka Union newspaper of August 26, 1858, which is on file in the Journal Office:

--On The Summit-

Yreka Union-August 26,1858-On Friday last, at one o'clock P.M., six members of the Yreka Brass Band stood on the Summit of Mt. Shasta, to greet this ancient and magnificent landmark with our National Anthems. Six other gentlemen also joined them, making a party of twelve in all. Messrs. J. Murray, A.J. Starlings, L. Detar, J.G. Garner, W.I. Mayfield, and J.G. Murray of the Band; and Robert Nixon, J.W. A'Neal, O.H. Purdy, J. Robison, G.W. Collins, and J. Hayes accompanying them to the top.

Three times three cheers for "Our Country," were given, and the startled solitude then re-echoed to "The Star Spangled Banner," a small sample of which has been fluttering from a diminutive flag-staff on the Summit since 1854. "Hail Columbia," "Yankee Doodle," and "Washington's March" succeeded, and after collecting specimen rocks as momentoes of the visit, and depositing the first telegraph dispatch received at Yreka earlier in the Summer of 1858, published in the Yreka Union; and the By-Laws of Yreka Lodge No. 19 I.O.O.F., along with other documents, the group once more descended down the Mountain to our lower world.

The exertion to attain this enviable position is arduous in the extreme, and we believe this is the first party that ever made the ascent without having some of their number left behind at lower levels.

On Saturday evening the members of the Brass Band arrived in Yreka, and serenaded the city by driving through the principal streets with team and wagon, discoursing some very creditable music. The Band is a pleasant and patriotic institution.

We (the Journal) also publish the following correspondence found in the same issue of the Yreka Union, written by the present Editor and owner (Bob Nixon) of the Yreka Journal, who was then acting Foreman of the Yreka Union's Office, when that newspaper was published by Tyson & Brown:

Editor The Union:--During the latter part of last week the Yreka Brass Band, together with a few friends, enjoyed a delightful excursion through Shasta Valley and up to the Summit of Shasta Butte Mountain, for the sole purpose of gratifying an innate ambition to "sound their horns," like Gabriel of old, in the patriotic strains of our National Anthems.

The party left Yreka in a large wagon pulled by a lively team, on Thursday morning, at an early hour; and as we proceeded South through Shasta Valley, we saluted each house with a favorite aire to the delight and astonishment of the residents, who were unprepared for such a novelty, besides causing a few of the uniformed to exclaim-"Hurrah,boys! The Circus is coming!"

The Band passed Orr's Ranch at an early hour; thence arrived at William Steven's place about 9:00 A.M., where we remained a short time. Here we found Mrs. Harriette Eddy, the pioneer hostess of the Sacramento River Canyon Road, whose hospitality and reputation as a public caterer of this world's good things to appease the craving appetite of humanity, is co-extensive with that of Cole's Mountain House on the Yreka-Jacksonville Road over the Siskiyous. The road from Yreka to Mrs. Eddy's is excellent and the distance quite convenient for a pleasant drive.

After a musical salute, we then journeyed on our way, saluting the houses as usual, until reaching White's Place, where we were compelled to halt by the influence of Mr. Summercamp's pleasing countenance, and a canteen of something good to drink. On leaving here, our gracious thanks were tendered, with the accompaniment of "My Mary Ann," played by the Brass Band.

The atmosphere, as we proceeded, seemed to be growing heavier, and the clouds lowered over our heads, caused no doubt from our coming in close contact with the town of Bummerville, where the vocal artillery of the patriotic and staunch citizens of the place saluted our advance with three hearty cheers. His Honour, Charles George Moore, Mayor of the lively Berg, tendered his guests the freedom of Bummerville, and passed out some of Tom Ireland's fine liquors and cigars for our benefit, while Tom, an enterprising merchant of the place, aroused the residue of the "Bummervillians," and collectively they gave three cheers on our exit, which we heartily returned with lively music and more cheering.

Further on, at the sawmill of Burns & Mayhew, the Band performed a favorite aire to the gratification of a number of ladies, whose smiling features acknowledged the honor from the windows of a dwelling house a short distance from the road. We noticed great improvements at this mill for getting down logs from the woods above, as they have a horse-operated railway there, five miles in length, now finished and working admirably.

As we journeyed through the wilderness we soon observed a sign hanging from a tree, labeled "The Forest Home," where Bill Sullaway was also discovered emerging from his rustic retreat, with a broad grin on his countenance, and his hands full of bottles and glasses which were offered with the remark that he was bound to give us "the last shot in the locker." Aunt Sullaway also received us with kindly welcome, and persuaded all she could to have us sojourn awhile at her cozy habitation. At the request of the young lady of the house, the Band played "Home Again" with much feeling. The monotony of our travel was relieved somewhat in noticing a Yankee invention and menagerie arrangement of a "go-cart" rustic rig and a team of sprightly goats harnessed to the little wagon.

We next arrived at Clark's place where we found a number of Yreka folks already recruited. Our wagon was deserted at this place, and with the kind assistance of the Clark household, we soon packed our horses with provisions, blankets, etc., and proceeded on our journey starting out at 3:00 P.M. for the camp ground at the foot of the principal object, Mt. Shasta.

After traveling twelve miles over a hilly and very rough trail, and through an immense thicket of chapparel, without anything to drink, we all felt much fatigued with the trip. Finally we came to a cold stream of water about dusk, where we indulged in a huge supper and a delicious cup of steaming hot coffee. Camp fires were built, our horses attended to and picketed, and our blankets spread on the ground, upon which all were soon laid down in peaceful slumber.

The moon shone beautifully, and the weather was cool, clear and delightful.

As 6:00 o'clock Friday morning, we commenced the ascent, carefully packing the musical instruments. Nearly all the way up to the bluff we traveled over snow, which was frozen hard, suggesting a dire necessity for iron clamps on our feet, on account of the continually sliding and falling down. In many places the stones and gravel were very loose, and caused us much labor in forcing our way up, occasionally losing a few steps to gain one.

The Black Hill above the bluffs, where so many are said to give out, was a hard task to ascend. Arriving at the top, we crossed a large field of snow to the foot of another very difficult hill to ascend, here winds blew strong and cold, and a person could hardly travel more than 20 yards without resting. The air was now getting very light, and cut our wind considerably to yell and hallo at those above and below us.

At the top of this hill the Summit came in sight, and moving along we passed another field of snow, where we found water which was strongly impregnated with sulphur. On crossing the snow, we observed the Sulphur Spring, which was bubbling, puffing and smoking like a huge pot of boiling water, and sending out a most disagreeable odor.

On reaching the pinnacle of our ambition, we overhauled and looked through the books, papers, etc., previously deposited there by various ladies and gentlemen, in the vicinity of the flag-staff. Among which we found a heavy buckskin purse containing an American 25-cent coin, which we opine was not placed there by the "soft hand of beauty." In addition to these items, we deposited copies of the Yreka Union and Yreka Chronicle of August 12, 1858, together with a copy of the Constitution and By-Laws of Yreka Lodge, No. 19, I.O.O.F., with the names of members of the Order, those of the Yreka Brass Band and others of the group, who were so highly elated on this natural apex of the Great North.

The Brass Band played the National Aires of "Hail Columbia," "Star Spangled Banner," "Washington's Grand March" and "Yankee Doodle." Then three cheers were given Mt. Shasta, and three times three cheers for the great United States of America, the Band accompanying the cheering with music.

The view was not good on account of dense clouds to the North, with the only good glimpse of the country we could get being over the Pit River Valley. A portion of our group went over onto the next peak East of the flag-staff, but none of us attempted to ascend the peak this side of the Sulphur Spring, which appeared to be about the same height as the other peak.

Mr. John Garner was the first man of the party on the Summit, and also the first down to camp on the return. We commenced the descent at 1:30 o'clock P.M.

Coming down from the bluffs we seated ourselves on the snow and had a general sliding down-hill, occasionally throwing lofty summersets, and jumping and digging our heels in the hard snow to check our headway. Those who had not sharp boot heels were considerably rent in their habiliments-the entire party came down in from an hour and a quarter to two and a half hours. All but three of the group remaining overnight at the camp ground. On the way from the camp ground the road was lost a number of times, but by returning a distance and starting a-new, we all arrived down the mountain safely.

On Friday evening a ball was given at the Soda Springs House, which we learn was a very pleasant affair, and progressed with much spirit and animation, although there was not as many ladies in attendance as had been expected. A number of Shasta ladies and a number of gentlemen from Yreka adorned the brilliant fete, and others are still sojourning there for the purpose of enjoying the healthful surroundings and relaxation.

Our party, in returning to Yreka Saturday, were again greeted with kindness and enthusiasm along the road, especially at Bummerville and Mrs. Eddy's, partaking of a splendid repast at the house of the latter. At 8:00 P.M., we arrived back in Yreka, with ragged clothes and almost soleless boots and shoes.

W.I. Mayfield of the above party, was a former publisher of the Yreka Journal, and is now keeping a little store in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, and most of the others named have crossed the dark river, while the few survivers are in other States of the Union.


The Yreka Brass Band, made up of a group of public spirited and energetic men of the day, was formed to provide entertainment for the then isolated mining camp, tucked away in the mountains. They entertained by giving evening concerts, playing for social events, entertainment events, plays, dances, sports events, Holiday observances, and probably even for weddings of the day, etc.

The Band was well supported by an appericative town, its residents and business people, and so in return for this loyal support the Band members decided that they would make the trip to the Summit of Mt. Shasta, and thus give the town and the surrounding area, a great amount of publicity, a boost for their supporters, both those of Yreka, Hawkinsville, and surrounding towns, and obtain the good will of other towns and communities outside of Siskiyou County.

Much preparation had to be made for the trip. A wagon large enough to accommodate the men, their instruments and camping and other equipment needed had to be secured, with a fast team and good driver accompanying to take the group quickly to the Mountain's base. Food, drink and blankets, etc., had to be gathered and made ready in advance.

Thus one could perhaps say that on the night before the trip the velvety blanket of night quickly tossing itself across the evening sky, being held in place by myraids of irridescent button-stars; summer night winds, now warm and caressing, now playful and mischievious, set the stage for the August moon, heralding its coming with soft golden glow, then tip-toeing over distant mountains, peeked down upon the town to see what all the hubbub was about, and if all was
safe, before showing its round, yellow face, annoyed only by a few fleecy, flittering clouds, and saw that all this preparation was going well for the early start next morning.

No doubt even before the moon had set, and the sun lightened the sky members of the Brass Band and their friends gathered, possibly on Miner Street, tossed their equipment, supplies, etc., into the wagon, and climbed aboard. When all were settled the driver flicked the reins, and the trip started, probably going up the street aways turning left onto Oregon Street, which was then the main North-South road through the town, and they were on their way, with harness creaking, wheels crunching and the horses trotting at a sprightly clip.

The Orr Ranch mentioned in the above story, is still known as the Orr Ranch property South of Yreka; the William Steven's place was probably a ranch and Way Station at about what is now Gazelle, located on the old road coming over from Scott Valley, joining the later built stage road up the Sacramento River Canyon. Mr. Stevens came from the East about 1851, with the Edson Brothers and their sister, Mrs. Harriette Eddy, a widow, all of whom became prominent in the early history of Siskiyou County.

Mrs. Eddy and her brother, Joe, purchased in 1853, what was then known as the Brady Ranch, in what later became the community of Gazelle.

White's place was probably a ranch located somewhere between Steven's place and possibly Park's Creek. It is believed that Summercamp later became a Yreka businessman, operating the Yreka Bakery a lengthy time.

Bummerville, was probably a sawmill community operated on or near the Shasta River a few miles South of what became Butteville, as old timers say a sawmill was operated in early days just North of the present Shasta River Highway bridge.

It is believed the Burns & Mayhew sawmill was located along the old wagon road somewhere near the base of the Eddy Mountains, with this road coming up from the Sacramento Canyon, through what became known as Strawberry Valley, to the road junction at Steven's place, thence on to Yreka. Old timers say that many years ago, traces of a railway could be seen going up into the mountains.

Bill Sullaway's Forest House was probably about in the vicinity of what became Sisson, now Mount Shasta City, and was located on first a pack trail then a road branching off from the Sacramento Canyon Route, thence leading through rugged terrain around the Eastern base of Black Butte and thence out into the Little Shasta Valley Area, the old community of Tailholt, etc. William Sullaway came to Yreka in Gold Rush days, operating an hourly stage route between the mining camps of Hawkinsville and Yreka, and also to Greenhorn, South of Yreka for some years, then turned to ranching, settling near Mt. Shasta's base.

Clark's Place was evidently a ranch located somewhere in the foothill section near the base of Mt. Shasta, forming a convenient place from which to make the ascent of Mt. Shasta, being about 12 miles from the first good camping place on the trip.


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