Siskiyou County’s Robbers Rock
● By Enjoy Magazine
Etched in Stone
Story by Jason Burkleo
Photos by Taryn Burkleo
A single gunshot echoes through the valley. Today, it’s most likely a rancher or hunter harvesting his quarry. But from the unique vantage point of Robbers Rock, it’s easy to imagine a much different scenario. Roughly the size of a van, this rock is paid little notice by locals traveling between Fort Jones and Yreka. If not for a small placard, the significance of this place would likely have been lost for good.
One can imagine what the surrounding scenery looked like more than 100 years ago – the two lanes of Highway 3 as a small winding dirt trail snaking west toward the Forest Mountain pass. One can almost hear the squeak of an old leather saddle or the exhale of a trusty quarter horse, or maybe even picture a masked man riding his steed and smell the oil on the pistol in his well-worn holster and gun belt. Surrounded by the towering pines and junipers it’s quite possible that aside from modern amenities like cars and smart phones, the view hasn’t changed. On July 5, 1908, a single stagecoach made its way toward the summit pass that separated the two small towns. Along with the driver and three passengers, the Wells Fargo and Co. stage also carried a locked box full of money. At the point where the trail passed the large rock near the summit, two armed men robbed the group of all their valuables, including the lock box. Legend describes the bandits a being “jolly” and one report describes a man with “a handkerchief over his face.” The other robber was so well hidden that none of the victims could ever really describe him. Many speculated about the identity of the thieves, but no arrests were ever made. Whether the men were local remains undetermined.
The small metal plaque describes other robberies that took place at the rock, but the exact number is lost in a mixture of documented facts and local lore. If you find yourself in the area and are the type of person who is always looking for a place to romanticize the Wild West, the North State is a great place to start and Robbers Rock should be on your list. The rock and plaque are easy to miss. From Interstate 5, take the South Yreka exit and head southwest on Highway 3. Drive approximately six miles and look for an unmarked turnoff on your left. If you reach the summit, you’ve gone too far. Once you pull off the paved road, the plaque and the rock are slightly downhill. It doesn’t really matter what time of year you decide to make the journey. No matter the season, the views are always rewarding. Just keep in mind that if ever you do find yourself standing next to Robbers Rock, you might want to keep an eye out, because the robbers remain at large.