The Wonders of Whitmore
By Brandi Barnett
Small TownJanuary 2007
By Marty Sternberg
Photo by Chad Thomas
Some Americans dream of living the simple life, finding a way to be closer to nature. In this dream, a small town offers a more desirable life where friendly neighbors know your name and keep an eye on your kids.The pace of life is slower in this dream town and you have time to enjoy the beauty of the world around you. Your days are spent in the simple wonder of knowing how lucky you are.
The truth however, is that life is not always as simple and wonderful in these small towns as the dream suggests. Living far removed from big cities creates problems of logistics. Pizza Hut doesn’t deliver out here and going to the movies can be a huge undertaking, to say nothing about date night or getting your child to town.
Living in a small town can mean driving 35 miles one way to go shopping. A dentist or doctor’s appointment combined with soccer practice can mean two trips to town. Living out in Whitmore, your neighbors probably don’t know where your house is, much less your name.
Located in the foothills northeast of Redding, Whitmore is hardly more than a bump on the map. The local elementary school has a total of 37 children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The “downtown” boasts a post office, community center, volunteer fire department and a general store that sells gas and take-n-bake pizza. Two churches and a CDF station round out the community. If you blink, you can miss the whole thing.
Jobs up here are limited as well.Whitmore School employs 11 staff, the superintendent/principal, three teachers, three aides, a cook, bus driver and secretary. The grocery store is owner-operated. Balanced with the distance, is the beauty of its setting. Located in the middle of a high mountain forest, the area is covered with ponderosa pines, mountain oaks and fragrant cedars. Spectacular views of a snow capped Lassen Peak can be seen while climbing the narrow winding roads.Whitmore is in the foothills of the Lassen National Forest.
The town is surrounded by almost 300,000 acres of forest and timberlands and at this elevation, temperatures are usually 10 degrees cooler when the valley is baking. In the summer, the quiet mountains fill up with campers and outdoor types who love the rugged beauty and solitude.
The foothills are home to an abundance of wildlife. Deer roam the woods as well as the roads.Most local drivers have had at least one deer run-in. Turkey, bear, and wild pigs making the area a popular destination with hunters. Both Clover Creek and Cow Creek draw fishermen hoping to catch that big one.
Located in the foothills between Shingletown and Burney the woods are a maze of logging roads and trails. This makes the area attractive to four wheel drive vehicles, ATV’s and dirt bikes.While some logging roads have recently been closed, it is still possible to drive on dirt between the three communities.
Nights are dark this far from city living, giving stars the opportunity to paint the sky. The Milky Way is visible, a brilliant road crossing the inky darkness with its shimmering light. At times the planets shine, Jupiter shows off her moons while Saturn flashes her rings. Constellations, nebulas and meteor showers give amateur astronomers more to see than time allows.
To live in Whitmore is to have access to a small piece of the wonder this great country holds. And while it is sometimes easy to forget on the long drive home, why they wanted to live so far from town, around each bend in the road is a beautiful view and if your lucky a herd of wild pigs cross the road in front of your car or an eagle glides over head, floating effortlessly on the crosscurrents of a beautiful fall afternoon and the picture comes into focus. The price of living in the boondocks is worth the rewards.