Into the Woods
By Billy Pilgrim
Into the WoodsApril 2016
Story by Billy Pilgrim
It’s the town with the funny name, and just 27 miles east of Redding on Highway 44, but sometimes on a hot summer day, it seems like a world away. It’s Shingletown, California, population 2,300 (though the sign says 1,000). In many wonderful and endearing ways, it is the town that time forgot.
Those 27 miles from Redding mean a journey into the tallest of tall trees in our area. Summertime temperatures are consistently 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the Sacramento Valley. Maybe that is the reason my parents moved to Shingletown from Los Angeles and built a huge, three-story farmhouse for our very large family. Or maybe it was because it is the gateway to my father’s beloved Lassen Peak, where he would spend his free time hiking and cross-country skiing and taking photographs. Shingletown just feels different than other mountain communities in a very profound and spiritual way.
According to the great Shasta County historian Dottie Smith, the original name of Shingletown was Shingle Camp. Shingle-making camps sprung up all over the area because of the abundance of cedar trees. Shingle Camp begat Shingle Ridge, Shingle Creek and Shingletown. I have always been fond of “Shingleville,” although I might be the only one who refers to it that way. It’s a term of endearment!
The community has a great history. The original Shingletown Store was built in 1854 and existed until 1966. A new version was built a short distance away, and continues to thrive as a center of commerce. Its competitor, Reed’s Market, is within walking distance. Emigrant Trail was established in 1852, and was the busiest route for pioneers traveling into Shasta County in the 1850s and 1860s. Signs mark the original location. The Big Wheels Restaurant and Bar used to be one of the great watering holes in Shasta County, known far and wide for Leonard’s famous Bloody Marys. It burned to the ground twice in recent years – a massive stone fireplace is all that remains.
Recent and wonderful additions in past years include The Shingletown Medical Center (my dad was the lone town doctor at one time), the Totem Pole and the Shingletown Library (my mom was one of the original driving forces for the project).
There is a rich fabric of community, history and wonderful characters woven into this part of Shasta County. God surely blessed us with its beauty! It’s undeniably one of California’s great treasures. It’s the 474 and the 96088. It’s Grace Lake and Black Butte School, the KOA, Shasta Forest Village and Mary Queen of Peace. God Bless Shingletown.