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“This was the old emigrant road and even in the early 1870s it was hard to locate. I have been over every foot of it and wondered how it was possible to take a wagon over some of it. It sure was a heartbreaker.” ~Anderson Finley, 1931


Northern California is particularly rich in 19th-century historic roads and trails, and Tehama County is no exception. This book focuses on the history and search, in archives and boots-on-the-ground archaeological surveys, for the existence of an early 1850s “forgotten emigrant trail” mentioned by Cottonwood, CA, resident Myrtle McNamar in her 1952 book Way Back When.


In Tehama County, this obscure route came off the Lassen Trail at Deer Creek Meadows and traveled westward through Childs Meadow and Battle Creek Meadows (Mineral) eventually reaching the old Apple Ranch in Paynes Creek before heading north around Inskip Butte and west toward the Sacramento River. Three years of fieldwork by BLM volunteers via the Passport in Time (PIT) program (2012, 2015, and 2017) aided tremendously in finding remnants of this trail.


Deborah Tibbetts is an archaeologist retired from the U.S. Forest Service. She received her Master’s degree (1997) in anthropology from California State University, Chico, focusing on a Mother Lode Gold Rush camp.

Hunting Tehama County's Lost Emigrant Trail by Deborah Tibbetts

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