Happy Camp is still here and the elevation hasn’t changed, but how about that population figure? Didn’t the recent year-2000 census change that at all?
The US Census Bureau lists Happy Camp in their American Fact Finder section. It is easy to see they have counted 2182 people in this area now… which sounds like a remarkable increase! But look at this carefully. It doesn’t really say there’s 2182 people in Happy Camp – what it says is there’s that number of people in “Happy Camp Census County Division” and that happens to be a large slice of western Siskiyou County, from the county line – east all the way to Scott River. As we know, most of that area is completely unpopulated, but it does include Seiad Valley and Somes Bar.
Not only that, but the number 2182 doesn’t represent an increase at all. Comparing with the year-1990 census population number of 2876, there’s been a decrease in population. This is more what we would expect to find, for as we all know, hundreds of people left Happy Camp when the lumber industry was devastated during the last decade.
Where then, did the 1,110 number come from, and how many people are really living in Happy Camp today? While doing this demograpic study, we discovered the source of the 1,110 number is the 1980 census, twenty-two years out of date! This figure can be found on a xls format spreadsheet file found at the California Dept. of Finance website. Whether that number counted only people living in Happy Camp, or in the entire Happy Camp Census County Division, we don’t know.
To find the number actually living in the area of Happy Camp today, we discovered we can request statistics for the 96039 zip code area. In this area, 1277 people were counted during the year 2000 census, and this is the number that we think should be on the Happy Camp sign. As for how many were here in 1990 – that number could not be found.