Happy Camp Will Be 150 Years Old in July

By Debbie Wilkinson

This speech was given at the opening ceremony for the Bigfoot Scenic Byway on April 1, 2001

Hello. For those who do not know me, I am Debbie Wilkinson, President of the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce. We wish to welcome you to today’s celebration. After a couple of short speeches we will have a ceremonial ribbon cutting to dedicate and officially open the Happy Camp end of the Bigfoot Scenic Byway. The ribbon cutting will be followed by a parade, food, fun and games. We will have balloon shaving, an egg toss and an egg carry race, as well as music by Happy Camp’s own Genuine Draft band. So stay around for the fun.

Today will mark the beginning of a summer of celebration, for this July will mark 150 years since the first group of miners stopped at the mouth of Indian Creek, approximately ½ mile from here, and found more than enough gold to stay on. In the years following, our little town has fluctuated in both prosperity and population. We have seen boom and bust, flood and firestorms, and we have survived it all.

Though Happy Camp has survived a great many trials and world changes in its first century and a half, the face of our home has changed little where it matters most: the heart and soul of our town, the people who have chosen to make it their home. Lets give ourselves a hand — we deserve it for despite those who would say otherwise, we have survived and we will continue to survive. I fully expect that in another 150 years yet another generation will gather here in Happy Camp to celebrate Happy Camp’s 300th anniversary. There will be new faces and new names, but we will still be here, in our little valley, with new stories that tell the world –We have survived.

As I said, today will kick off a summer of celebration. The festivities will continue in July with our first Annual River Run Bike Rally, which will be held at the River Park on the 6th, 7th and 8th. The summer will end with Happy Camp’s Annual Bigfoot Jamboree on Labor Day weekend. Any body or group who wishes to participate in either event should contact the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce or the Happy Camp Coordinating Council. As always, new faces and new ideas are always welcomed.

Today is about history, and Bigfoot has been with us from the first. Along with mining tales and the other stories that have added color to our history, this legendary creature has helped to shape our image. Here with a short history of Bigfoot is a man that everybody knows, Karuk Tribal Council Vice-Chairman and Chamber of Commerce Past President, Harvey Shinar.

[At this point, Harvey Shinar gave his speech about Bigfoot legends and the inspiration for the Bigfoot Scenic Byway. –ed.]

Thank You Harvey.

Today is also about the blending of modern travel with that history. Today’s family often chooses to forgo the joys of the destination resorts such as Disney Land, in favor of trips into the wilds of America. This interest prompted different levels of government to institute several scenic byway programs. The State of Jefferson Scenic Byway and The newly designated Bigfoot Scenic Byway are both part of the US forest Service’s programs. Here to tell us some more is the Klamath National Forest Supervisor, Peg Boland.

[Peg Boland spoke about the development and completion of the Bigfoot Scenic Byway. –ed.]

Thank You Peg.

Today’s Celebration is not just happening here in Happy Camp. In a couple of minutes, at 1:00 sharp, in Orleans, in Hoopa and here in Happy Camp this Red Ribbon will be cut. This ribbon cutting will not only celebrate our newest scenic byway, but will also celebrate a new beginning for our river communities: The beginning of a new, river long, collaboration of communities and governments. Separate, our voices are small, together we can move mountains. Together we can be a power to recon with.

Now for the event of the day: Perhaps Mike can give us a drum roll as we prepare to cut the ribbon.

[At this point, we turned our attention to the red ribbon held across Highway 96 in front of the bank’s parking lot. –ed.]

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Opening of the Bigfoot Scenic Byway

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April 1, 2001 – Hailed as “a new beginning for river communities”, the Bigfoot Scenic Byway is now open, forging a special bond for river towns from Happy Camp to Willow Creek. Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce’s celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony was a great success, with some of the most colorful and exciting citizens of the town participating, including Bigfoot himself.

The celebration kicks off a summer of community activity commemorating the 150th year since the time when John Titus and James Camp came to the banks of Indian Creek and named the town.

Debbie Wilkinson served as master of ceremonies for the day, giving a wonderful speech on behalf of the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce. This ribbon-cutting celebration was being simultaneously held in four communities: Willow Creek, Hoopa, Orleans, and of course in our home town of Happy Camp.

Harvey Shinar, Vice-President of the Karuk Tribal Council spoke on the history of Bigfoot sightings in our area. In 1852, he said, Bigfoot was sighted by a Chinese miner in the area of Thompson Creek. More recently, hair samples found nearby in Oregon were proven to be of unknown origin, possibly true evidence of Bigfoot’s presence in our forests.

According to Shinar, the idea for the Bigfoot Scenic Byway came from the Hoopa Valley Tribe. They shared their inspiration with the US Forest Service and now the plan has come to fruition.

The speeches included a few words from Peg Boland of Yreka, Klamath Forest Supervisor in charge of completing the project. Afterwards, the ribbon cutting ceremony took place in the center of Highway 96 in front of the bank’s parking lot, and a short parade was led by Bigfoot.

It is time to look for the new highway signs with Bigfoot’s picture. Hopefully these will be somewhat easier to find than Bigfoot himself.

Tourists: to find the Bigfoot Scenic Byway, direct your cars to Highway 96, from Willow Creek to Happy Camp. When you get here, you can take the Jefferson Scenic Byway north to Oregon, or east to Yreka.

Providing entertainment, the Genuine Draft Band kept the crowd hopping most of the afternoon, their rock sound filling the entire town with music and excitement. (If only Titus and Camp could see us now!)

The children were entertained with contests: balloon shaving, an egg toss and a spoon race (running while holding an egg in a spoon). Winners for each contest were honored by presentations of appropriate plaques: the golden razor, the golden egg, and the golden spoon.

More information on the summer celebrations will be forthcoming. If you can’t wait to hear more, try contacting the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce.
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