Happy Camp is on the Bigfoot Scenic Byway

by Judy Bushy
Someone mentioned to me that they were unaware that we had a Bigfoot Byway, from Happy Camp down Highway 96 to Willow Creek.

The theme of this Byway is “where the wildlife watches you!: It was dedicated when Debbie Wilkinson was the President of the Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce on April 1st, 2001. The date was chosen for those who feel our Sasquatch is a myth or legend, so everyone could join in the fun! Harvey Shinar was there as both a council member for the Karuk Tribe as well as past Chamber president. Bud Johnson as Chairman took part also.

Peg Boland was the Klamath National Forest Supervisor at the ribbon cutting. Although she was not cutting the ribbon, the accomplishment of the Bigfoot Byway was in large measure the work of Gay Baxter who worked with businesses and organizations along Highway 96 to make it happen years ago.

Some years later, Cheryl Wainwright had the inspiration and enlisted Ralph Starrit’s help as well as community involvement to build a large Bigfoot Statue on the corner of Highway 96 and Davis Road where the Byway begins.

It is perhaps appropriate that the other end of the Bigfoot Byway is at Willow Creek where they have a wooden statue and a Bigfoot wing on the China Flat Museum.

Bigfoot Byway Logo

Silver Anniversary HC Chamber of Commerce

It was a very hot evening in July, 1986. The sound of Elk Creek rushing over rocks and pebbles was the background noise. A congenial group of Happy Camp citizens gathered at the Elk Creek Campground at the end of the day. Jim and Carol Jones hosted the business leaders of the Happy Camp community.

They were concerned about the promotion of the businesses of the little community on Highway 96 along the Klamath River. They wanted to advertise, but advertising took more than each business alone could pay. Therefore the idea had been proposed to cooperate together and pool their funds to make the best advertising that would promote Happy Camp. It was decided that each business could put $50 in the kitty to pay for advertising, perhaps a billboard out on Interstate 5 that would bring visitors down Highway 96 to Happy Camp.

Who was at that meeting?

Ben Rosser was the owner of Forest Lodge Motel.

Charlotte was owner of Evans Mercantile started by the Evans family. Guy and Ora Head ran the store until Guy was killed in a train collision and Ora had continued with son.

Adamsons owned Larry’s Market


It was a small group.  But they were the entrepreneurs and business circle of Happy Camp.




2003-2007 Crusin’ the Klamath, with numbers of beautiful antique cars came down the Klamath River for the Show and Shine!

2006  This was the year that celebrated TWENTY YEARS of the  HC CofC and 150 years of town of Happy Camp!  John Gould chaired the committee for another very successful Rollin on th River. The Chamber gave the Happy Camp Community Services District our annual contribution to upgrade the River Park, this year $3,000.

At the first meeting April 4, 2007 Chris Sorenson was president. The previous treasurer, rosemary Boren,  had handed over the books, and there was $9,672-93 in the Chamber bank account besides the Chamber trailer that was used as office at events such as Rollin’ on the River Bike Rally and held archived records. Instead of the regular weekly Wednesday lunch meetings that the Chamber had held for decades, besides the monthly first Tuesday evening meeting, the new chamber officals decided to correspond by emails. Members of the Board were Chris Sorenson, Roberta Arneson Rita Manley, Lehel Garami (Treasurer) Roberta Collum, Montine Blevins and Jon Grunbaum. Four signs were place in Oregon on Waldo Road for $1,200.

Although there are no minutes for elections in 2008 or 2009, the minutes for July 20, 200- show Ian Tripp as President, Dinah Sulipenck as vice president, Carly Manley as treasurer and Rita King and Lisa West as co-secretarys with Charles Brown, Dave Wrobleski, Michelle Wrobleski, high school student Majestah West and Victoria Pope as board members. Later letterhead shows Dinah as president, Carly Manley as Vice President, Rita King as Secretary, Victoria Pope, Dave and Michelle, Charlie Mayton, Jody Jewell and Laurie Bowers as board members.

-December 11,2010 Dinah Sulipeck called the meeting to order, and there was discussion for a couple of hours on qualifications for members of the Chamber of Commerce. Roger Mooberry, Charles Mayten, Jody Jewel, and Rita Manley King resigned from the board leaving only Dinah Sulipeck, President and James Buchner, treasurer as directors. A meeting was held to restore the board to the seven members and Cathleen Searle was appointed as treasurer, Kirk Eadie, Montine Blevins, Pete Winslow and Terri Winslow were the new board members. Dinah did a great job on the Community Tree Lighting event which had been held by Family Resource Center last year, but was previously put on as the Chamber’s gift to the town for at least twenty years.

March 2011-elections, Cathleen Searle as president at a big free spaghetti dinner at the Grange.

Rod Diridon to speak on “Dear Mad’m” at Picnic

The Committee to Celebrate Dear Mad’m Day is honored and delighted to have Rod Diridon, Sr. come and speak to us for this occassion.

Rod said in his reply, “I’d be glad to share thoughts about Stella, the Clear Creek Claim and our even earlier times at the Classic Hill placer mine about 12 miles up Indian Creek near the state line.

“Grandfather John Covert filed three mining claims at Clear Creek with Fred Crook around 1910 and Fred, an authentic mountain man, stayed there to do the annual “claim improvements” to hold title. Grandpa wondered off to earned and loose a couple of fortunes. Seems he was a brilliant builder but imbibed a bit too much.

“After quite a time in set design and construction in Hollywood, Grandpa helped to build the Hurst’s Wintoon “Castle” from the mid 1930s to the late 1940s.

“After an altercation with a couple of loggers in a Dunsmuir bar, Grandpa resettled (was resettled) on the Classic Hill Mine that was purchased by Grandma Allie’s Redding-based logging family (Middleton, Cocherine, and Notley) for timber rights. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Grandpa worked the claim illegally in the winter when the streams were muddy so his tailings weren’t discernible. It was a massive old systems with miles of ditches and high flooms, hydrolic “giants” and piping, a small town (blacksmith shop, stables, hay shed, machine repair shop, large orchard, etc.) at the main HQ bunk house and superintendents home dating to the late 1800s….

( After )”Grandma Allie moved to the Classic Hill and they then moved to the Clear Creek claims with Fred. Grandpa built a very nice home, later cut in two and moved to Happy Camp after Caltrans condemned and bought the the claim in the early 1960s to straighten and widen the road…..”

Rod Diridon, Sr. the son of an immigrant Italian railroad brakeman, is called the “father” of modern transit service in California’s Silicon Valley. Raised in Dunsmuir, California, he worked his way through college as a railroad brakeman and fireman receiving a BS in accounting in 1961 and MSBA in statistics in 1963 from San Jose State University. Rod served four years as a naval officer with two Vietnam combat tours.

He is especially proud of son Rod, Jr. (a two-term Santa Clara City Council member and vice mayor recently reelected city clerk/auditor) and daughter Mary Margaret (director of counseling for the Silicon Valley YWCAs). His wife, Dr. Gloria Duffy, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense directing nuclear disarmament negotiations, is now the president/CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California

Dear Mad’m Day August 13th, 2011

Former Cabin Site
Klamath River View from Former Cabin Site

Happy Camp is celebrating a literary celebrity of our community. The book “Dear Mad’m” by Stella Patterson has brought many visitors to our community and encouraged many “senior citizens” to lead an adventurous life despite advancing years.

The Happy Camp Chamber of Commerce is planning the luncheon picnic to honor Stella Patterson and those still maintain the spirit she exemplifies today! The Luncheon will be held in the shade of the sycamore trees on the lawn of the Klamath River Resort Inn on the Klamath River, 2 miles east of Happy Camp.

Dear Mad’m Day will be Saturday, August 13th and the picnic luncheon for  $5 donation will be at 11:00 o”clock.  Sandwiches, ribs, jewel and fruit salads and specialty breads are planned, as well as Dolly’s Strawberry Lemonade and dessert.

We are so pleased that guests who have known Dear Mad’m from their time on the River, Peter and Liz who are writing a book to be published by Naturegraph on her life, and Hazel Davis Gendron who used her artistic talents for a drawing of Dear Mad’m and numerous other “Friends of “Stella” from near and far will be coming to the picnic luncheon.

Former Cabin Site

Klamath River View from Former Cabin Site

Patterson Ranch, Willow Creek

Thank you to Margaret Wooden and the China Flat Museum for permission to reprint this excerpt from “History of the Patterson Ranch on Patterson Road” from the Winter 2003 Newsletter of the Willow Creek China Flat Museum Newsletter.
by Margaret Wooden.

John Douglas entered this beautiful natural bowl before his marriage in 1886 to Miss Nancy Kidd and by 1895 he is assessed for about 160 acres which comprised the Sugar Bowl Ranch. Mr. James Kidd (Nancy’s father) had settled on a ranch, closer to Willow Creek, on the east side of the river about 1865 after his land in the Hoopa Valley had been purchased by the U.S. Government upon the formation of the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. The property Mr. Kidd and his family settled on is now known as the Bussell Ranch on Patterson Road. The Douglas family lived at Sugar Bowl for several years until they purchased property from John Brett and built a new home.
Blue Lake Advocate, Sept. 26, 1903
….recently purchased the Brett Ranch near Willow Creek and is now building a new house thereon. The roof will be covered with corrugated iron, which is the safest covering from fires. As soon as the house is complete, Mr. Douglas will move with his family from their other place at sugar bowl as the new place is much closer to the Willow Creek School which his children will attend.
(This property covered most of the land that is on both sides of the lane at the junction of Patterson Road and Horse Linto Road)
In 1932 Mr. Douglas sold his ranch to James B. Patterson who owned a small place at Hawkins Bar. Douglas built a new home on the property, his wife, Nancy Kidd, had homesteaded before her marriage to Douglas. This 160 acres was contiguous to her father’s place. In those days, when a child became twenty-one years old, they were able to homestead their separate property which would thus enlarge the original parent’s homestead. (This acreage is now known as the Shore property.)
Blue Lake Advocate, August 29, 1925.
A Civil war vet who for about forty years made his home near Willow Creek on the Trinity River answered the last call at his home there on August 20. Deceased had been in ill health for some moths past and his demise was not unexpected.
John Douglas was a native of New York and had he lived until October 10, 1935 he would have been seventy-eight years. When a small boy, he moved with his folds to the northwest, residing in the state of Wisconsin, many years previous to coming to California. To mourn his loss, he leaves a wife, one daughter, Miss Alice Douglas and one son, Robert Douglas, all of Willow Creek and two brothers, James and Abner of Blue Lake, He was buried in the family cemetery.
(This family cemetery is still an active cemetery and is in the vicinity of Arrowhead Estates. Doug Shore is the last descendant of the Douglas family. His mother was Miss Alice Douglas)
James B Patterson was a grandson of Azel S. Patterson of Sonoma County. Azel Patterson had a brother, Moses Patterson, who was an early day miner of the New River District. The 1900 New River Census lists:
• Moses Patterson, age 78 widowed, born New York with a boarder Sylvester Scott.
• James H Patterson, age 44 married, born California, father (Azel born New York, occupation farmer.
• James B. Patterson, age 17, born California
• Fred H. age 16, born California.
This census shows that James B. Patterson, who later purchased the Douglas Ranch in Willow Creek, would have been well acquainted with New River and the people. As the main pack trail went up Hawkins Creek toward the New River section this census shows that James B was also acquainted with the Hawkins Bar area for he probably traveled this trail extensively going and coming for supplies. Remember, Hawkins Bar in the day before the road was built up the Trinity River before World War I was on the side now occupied by Trinity Village and surrounding area. The section we now call Hawkins Bar was then called Pony Bar.
James B. probably mined with his Uncle Moses and father, James H. on New River before going to work for Jere Smith who owned the property now occupied by Trinity Village and later James B purchased a parcel of land between Jere Smith and the Irving family Ranch which is up ahq3kins Creek.
Blue River Advocate 1909
Mr. and Mrs. James B. Patterson, newly married arrived by steamer Wednesday from San Francisco and stopped a short time at Blue Lake on their way to their future home at Hawkins Bar in the western part of Trinity where the groom has a ranch of several hundred acres.
Mrs. Patterson was once the wife of ex-judge Augustus Belcher of San Francisco. She was well known here where she has made her home for some years with Mr. and Mrs. A. Brizard of Arcata. She is also quite well known in San Francisco and Los Angeles and has traveled extensively, having studies music in Europe. Her abilities in the literary line have given her prominence on this coast. It is said that for one story she wrote recently she received $700.
To those who have known her well, her second marriage was a surprise. Mrs. Patterson visited the Trinity section last year, but no on thought a romance was in progress.
There was nothing like a hint left by Mr. Patterson when he went to Los Angeles about three weeks ago. The happy Couple will make their home at Hawkins Bar.
James B. Patterson raised cattle and ranged them on the summer on the mountain at the head of Hawkins Creek and surrounding section. He purchased cattle in the Hyampom and Hayfork regions and drove them over Underwood Mountain to his Hawkins Creek ranch with local men and then, with their help, drove the gathered herd to the railroad at Blue Lake to be sold to butchers in Eureka and Arcata.
It was during this time period that this couple spent time in the Old Denny area. It is not known whether they worked there or were visitors. As all the trail traffic went up Hawkins Creek this couple would have had the opportunity to make many acquaintances with the folks that lived in the Denny Mountains and were most likely invited to visit the miners and their families in that section of Trinity county. It is not known whether James B.”s father James H was still in the New River area.
Mrs. Patterson (Stella Walthall Belcher) was born in Oakland in 1866 and educated at Mills College. She married Judge Augustus Belcher who liked to come to western Trinity County and have James Patterson guide him on hunting expeditions. The Brizard Family owned a ranch at Hawkins Bar and it is there that Stella Belcher most likely became acquainted with the Brizard family whose home base was at Arcata where their main store was located. Another story relates her experiences as a music teacher in Eureka at the Eureka Academy and Business College which was established by a Mr. Phelps who had been a teacher at various schools in the Ferndale area. The Academy burned possibly in 1892 or 1893. Whatever the case may be Stella Walthall Belcher met and married James B Patterson in 1907 and settled in at being a farmer’s wife at Hawkins Bar.
James Patterson was always involved in some type of work besides the cattle business to maintain his home place. He purchased cattle and drove them to Blue Lake. He purchased a water powered sawmill and installed it on Cedar Creek after taking a contract from the Carona del Oro Mine to saw lumber for a flume that was to bring water to the mine. In 1915 he took a contract with Trinity County for $1800 to clear a six mile right of way for the new wagon road which was being constructed from Salyer to Burnt Ranch. He also, during hunting season, in the fall, would guide hunting parties into the mountains set them up in camp and go back to get them in a week or so.
After purchasing the Douglas Ranch, in 1921 at Willow Creek, James and Stella moved there and he established the Circle P brand for his stock.
Blue Lake Advocate, November 2-, 1936
James B Patterson of the Willow Creek section went bear hunting on Trinity Summit. He had his bear dogs with him which treed three bears which he killed and sent them to Alameda for the Elks Lodge. Mr. Patterson has supplied the Alameda Lodge of Elks with bear for Thanksgiving and Christmas for a number of years back.
During these years at Willow Creek, James and Stella adopted two children, Ralph and Thelma. If Stella’s birthdate is correct, she was eighty years old when she wrote Dear Madam. That means she was gone from Willow Creek by 1946 and went to her mining claim on the Klamath River near Happy Camp.
James B. Patterson continued living on his ranch at the end of Patterson Road. He continued buying and selling cattle and hogs, driving his cattle to Patterson Meadow during the summer months where he built a log cabin. Unfortunately, the cabin burned down a few years ago during the Megram Fire. He also sold several home sites off his ranch. He would take hunting parties to the Patterson Meadow region and return them to his ranch when they were through. He was also well known for his barbecuing ability and the special sauce he applied to the meat while cooking. He dug a larg3 pit at his ranch and would cook the meat and deliver it wherever the feed was being held. In 1953 he barbecued for the Fourth of July celebration at Hoopa and served about three hundred. In 1954 he put on a fundraising barbecue for the new medical center to be built east of Willow Creek. This celebration included the barbecue and dance and groundbreaking ceremonies. The feed was held at Gambi’s open air tables and the dance on the open-air dance platform. If there was no snow, and he could make the trip to Patterson Meadow, James would harvest silver tip Christmas trees. If he could not get that far up the mountain he would cut Douglas fir trees taking them to friends in Eureka and Arcata. He and Ranger Ws Hotelling did this for several years.
In September 1956 James B. Patterson died. He was a well known rancher, hunting guide and barbecue chef. He was survived by his son and daughter and was laid to rest in the Willow Creek Cemetery.
It is always interesting to follow in the footsteps of some of out early day pioneers as they struggled to open land for their farms or mines. The Sugar Bowl ranch is still a beautiful place as one gazes down from Highway 96. The Patterson Ranch has been divided into many home sites and now has a vineyard which will continue the agriculture manner for which is was originally intended. The house that John Douglas built on the one hundred and sixty acres Nancy Kidd homesteaded is still occupied. Doug Shore’s place is also on this original homestead. The remaining open ground is used for garden spots and most of this acreage is producing timber which is also a valuable asset to the property.
Doug Shore
Susie Van Kirk
Susie Baker Fountain Pagers
Dear Madam, by Stella Walthall Patterson
Arcata Union Sept 28, 1956
Humboldt County Historical Society.

Home on the River

By Dave Lambert
Imagine if you will, a green carpet of tall trees extending inland from the Pacific Coast to the Seiad Valley. Scattered here and there are natural meadows and lush grasslands where herds of elk and deer graze peacefully. This pristine wilderness abounded with wildlife of many kinds, Grizzlies, cougar, wolves, wolverine., lynx, black bear and many others co-existed here.

Winding through this paradise is an emerald green river of volcanic origin, which is teeming with life. Salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, eel’s shad and suckers all ascend this powerful waterway to spawn and replenish their species. Eagles, ospreys, ducks, otters and mink all proliferated along it shores. This is the river Klamath!

Originating in eastern Oregon, it flows south into upper and lower Klamath Lakes where the Klamath Tribe lives, whom the river is named after. It then flows southwest for several hundred miles where it merges with the Trinity River. From there it swings due west and continues on to tend the long, winding journey by emptying in to the Pacific Ocean.
The native peoples who called this paradise home had lived in harmony with nature for hundreds of years. They had never heard a loud, unnatural sound, such as a gunshot, the ruble of a jet passing overhead or the roar of a combustible engine. Pollution as we know it was unknown.

Life was not exactly effortless but all necessities could be secured without undue hardship. It seemed to them that the Great Spirit had smiled upon this land of the river called Klamath.

There is some evidence of foreigners cohabiting with Indians long before the coming of the miners. It is known that trappers and traders were here by the turn of the 18th century because of the abundant beaver, mink, muskrat, bobcat and many other fur bearing animals. When this fur trade was at its peak this was the disputed territory of several fur trading companies. In 1850, when gold was discovered in the ancient alluvial gravel deposits along the river, life quickly changed for all the inhabitants of the area. With the gold seekers came progress and the inevitable taming of the area. The U.S, Government was eager to add the freshly mined gold to its treasury and the miners no time to exploiting to the extreme. Claims were staked on every patch of high bar and gravel deposit that could be found. There were the natural flats and benches along the stream bank that just so happened to be where the village sites were also located. The rich layer of topsoil was the first to get washed down through the sluice boxes. This was followed by the gold bearing gravel and boulders and eventually to bedrock where the much hoped for giant nuggets would be found.

Chinese miners began arriving and as they had previous experience at mining were very successful in procuring the gold they had come

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