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About the Mount Shasta Collection

Mount Shasta

"As lone as God, and white as a winter moon, Mount Shasta starts up sudden and solitary from the heart of the great black forests of Northern California."

This famous quote by Joaquin Miller, noted nineteenth century American poet and novelist, captures the essence of this majestic 14,162-foot volcano that has been a focal point of history, science, art, literature, mythology and recreation of the American West. Since long before Europeans and Americans arrived in the region, Mount Shasta has figured prominently in the lives and mythologies of Native Americans. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, the massive "Snowy Butte" guided explorers, fur trappers, gold seekers, and immigrants traveling the California-Oregon trails. Many important scientists, writers, and artists of the early American West were drawn to Mount Shasta, recording their experiences, studies, and impressions. Its imposing, otherworldly presence continues to inspire.

Mount Shasta Collection

The College of the Siskiyous Library, located on the west slope of Mount Shasta, has developed a unique, comprehensive research collection about Mount Shasta for use by students and faculty as well as researchers, writers, historians, scientists, other libraries and museums, businesses, and the public. The library also sponsors interpretive programs about Mount Shasta, such as speakers and exhibits.

The Mount Shasta Collection has grown through grants, donations, and purchases. Through a grant from the McConnell Foundation, important materials were added and a major bibliography of significant Mount Shasta-related materials was published. Today the Mount Shasta Collection is the largest repository of information and documents about Mount Shasta. The collection consists of thousands of books, articles, manuscripts, photographs, maps, prints, and audiovisual materials about the Mount Shasta volcano and the surrounding region.

College of the Siskiyous Library is open to everyone. There are restrictions on who may directly borrow materials, but anyone who visits the library may use its collections. Limited reference assistance by telephone, email, fax, or correspondence is offered.

Visiting researchers should call or write first to ensure the library will be open and the desired information available. Tax deductible donations or gifts of Mount Shasta-related items are essential to expand and enrich the collection. Contact the library for more information.

Major Topics of the Mount Shasta Collection

Native Americans

Native American peoples, including the Shasta, Wintu, Achomawi, Modoc, Karuk, and other tribes. In this category, for example, are ethnographic studies, vocabularies, linguistic studies, and legends relating to Shasta.

Early Exploration

Accounts of early European and American exploration, including reports, diaries, letters, maps, and illustrations of the Spanish expeditions into the upper Sacramento River Valley; the British Hudson's Bay Company expeditions; American civilian exploration and migration; the American government expeditions of Wilkes and Fremont; and the Pacific Railroad Surveys. Origin and use of the name "Shasta" is thoroughly documented.


Comprehensive histories, interpretations, and other documents covering such topics as pioneers, railroads, lumbering, and contemporary social history of the Shasta region.

Scientific Discovery

Reports, journals, and field notes of pioneering explorers and scientists, including members of the United States (Wilkes) Exploring Expedition of 1838-42. Scientific topics included regional botany and zoology, as well as volcanic activity, glaciers, debris flow, soils, minerals and climate.


A surprising array of literary prose, fiction, and poetry, from that of John Muir, Joaquin Miller, Mary Austin, and John Greenleaf Whittier, to that of Bram Stoker, Robert Heinlein, and actor Hal Holbrook.


Mount Shasta as a sacred site in spiritual or religious contexts, including materials on Native American legends and religious traditions, Theosophical teachings, the Lemuria-Mount Shasta legends arising from nineteenth century occult traditions, and more recent "New Age" legends.


Personal accounts, technical manuals, articles, histories, and climbing records.


Mount Shasta as an important tourist destination, from nineteenth century resort brochures to modern-day climbing guides. Also covered are the many controversies surrounding development of Mount Shasta, beginning with Joaquin Miller's 1873 proposal to make Mount Shasta the center of an "Indian Republic," and including several National Park, State Park, and wilderness proposals as well as the recent Mount Shasta Ski Area and National Historic District controversies.


Illustrations, photographs, music, and information about the art and artists inspired by the Mount Shasta volcano, including noted photographers Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Carleton Watkins as well as prominent landscape artists Albert Bierstadt, William Keith, and Thomas Hill.

Selected Quotes

"When I first caught sight of it (Mount Shasta) over the braided folds of the Sacramento Valley, I was fifty miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since." -- John Muir, 1874

"...At last the water went down... Then the animal people came down from the top of Mount Shasta and made new homes for themselves. They scattered everywhere and became the ancestors of all the animal peoples of the earth." -- Shasta Indian Flood Legend

"I consider the evening twilight on Mount Shasta one of the grandest sights I have ever witnessed." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 1908

Contact the Library

College of the Siskiyous Library
800 College Avenue
Weed, CA 96094
Text/Phone: (530) 938-5331
Zoom Drop-in Hours: By Appointment
Fax: (530) 938-5226