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good land along the river, in the southern part of the county, where also the juniper and cedar attain a size making them serviceable for fuel.
Fall river, a large stream having its source in a group of immense springs at the eastern base of Mount Shasta, flows through a fissurelike channel, pursuing a singularly devious course for a distance of sisty miles, when it empties into Pitt river.
Mount Shasta, in its isolation the grandest peak, and for a long time supposed the loftiest mountain in the State, is situated in the southwesterly part of this county. It reaches an altitude of fourteen thousand four hundred and forty feet, its apparent height being somewhat diminished by the general elevation of the country and the many lofty peaks and ranges that surround it. For four or five thousand feet below its summit it is covered with snow at all seasons of the
yearthis being the only mountain in the State that remains snow-clad for any considerable distance below its summit throughout the entire year, Lassen's Peak, the Downieville Buttes, and all the other more lofty points in the State losing their snow late in the summer, except where it has drifted into deep ravines or lies under the shadow of cliffs on their northern slopes. The base of this mountain is covered, except on the north, to the height of between seven and eight thousand feet, with heavy forests of sugar and pitch pine. On its northern slope, owing to the poverty of the soil, the only trees found consist of a growth of stunted cedar and oak. Scattered through the higher parts of this heavy timber belt occur patches of chaparral, which, being indicative of a barren soil, are locally known as the “Devil's acres.” Up to an altitude of seven thousand feet, the trees are of the usual dimensions; at eight thousand feet, forest trees disappear entirely, a few stunted and hardy shrubs struggling for existence up to the height of about nine thousand feet, between which and the line of perpetual snow, scarcely a moss or lichen is to be seen. Above the latter point, and reaching to an altitude of twelve thousand feet, the only sign of life met with is a low form of vegetable of a vermillion color, which, generated in and staining the snow, causes this belt to be known as the “red snow. Above the fields of this most primitive vegetation, the cone of the mountain lifts itself-a glittering pavilion of untarnished snow. The best season for ascending the mountain is in the month of July or August. Earlier than July the snow is not sufficiently gone--while, towards the end of the summer, the fires, common in the forests, fill the air with smoke, interfering with and often completely destroying the view. The ascent is made from the west side, and until a height
of twelve thousand feet is reached is attended with no other difficulty than that always incident to the attenuated condition of the atmosphere at similar elevations. Above twelve thousand feet the ascent becomes more steep and laborious, the slope of the mountain inclining at an angle varying from thirty to forty-five degrees. Three days are required to make the journey with comfort and satisfaction. The first night is spent near the line of perpetual snow; the next day is consiimed in going to the top of the mountain and returning to the spot left in the morning, where the second night is passed--the balance of the descent being made the following day. A good supply of blankets is required, as the temperature at this night-camp generally falls to the freezing point before morning. At an elevation of thirteen thousand two hundred and forty feet, a rudely circular, and nearly level space occurs, evidently the bottom of an ancient crater, one side of which having been broken away, a portion of its rim still remains, forming the summit of the mountain, which lifts itself one thousand two hundred and four feet above. On this level area are a number of orifices from which steam and sulphurous gases constantly escape—the feeble action of this solfatara being the only surviving manifestation of those stupendous forces that piled up the masses that form this extinct volcano. The thermometer, at midday, in summer, generally stands below the freezing point on the summit of the mountain. The air about its top is cold, even in the warmest weather, and is almost always in brisk circulation, the summit being frequently swept by strong gales that keep exposed portions of its sides denuded of snow. The outline of this mountain, from whatever side viewed, presents a nearly regular cone, the symmetry of which is somewhat marred, when observed from the southwest, by the interposition of the side cone, not two thousand feet lower than the main mountain, from which it stands wholly separated. No one has ever been on its top, it being steeper and more difficult of ascent than Shasta itself. The sky outline of the latter has a general inclination of about twenty-eight degrees on one side and of thirty-one degrees on the other, while the westerly slope of this side-cone inclines at about thirty-six degrees. While, as stated, certain exposed and rocky portions of the main mountain are denuded of snow, these bare spots disappear when viewed from a distance, the whole surface above the snow line seeming an unbroken sheet of white, distinctly separated from the dark belt of forest below. The entire mass of the mountain is of volcanic origin, the base consisting of trachitic lava and the more elevated portions of basaltic rock, there being but little scoria, ashes or other loose material to be seen, except near the summit, where there
is a heavy bed of volcanic breccia. That this, however, as well as the adjacent cone, and many other peaks scattered over the country to the north, is wholly of volcanic origin, having been erupted from a craterlike orifice, admits of no doubt. The exact height of Mount Shasta, for a long time a somewhat mooted question, was a few years since definitely settled by the members of the State Geological Survey, in accordance with the figures above given.
Near Elk valley, which affords some of the finest views of Mount Shasta, anywhere to be had, there are said to be numerous caves which, though never fully explored, are supposed to extend for a great distance under the lava formation that here marks the geology of the country. Near Hurd's ranch there occurs also a very extensive cavern known as " Pluto's cave." It consists of a long gallery in some parts sixty feet high, and varying in width from twenty to fifty feet. The soil of Elk valley, composed mostly of volcanic sand, is barren and incapable of sustaining any vegetation, except a few worthless shrubs.
Shasta valley, like the Pitt valley, is a barren lava plain, containing, however, a few fertile spots. Rising from this plain, which has an altitude of over three thousand feet, are numerous conical hills of volcanic origin, that impart to the region a wild and rugged aspect.
There are many other mountains, valleys, caverns, and other natural objects and points of interest, in this extensive county, rendering it an attractive field to the scientific and curious.
Notwithstanding so large a portion of Siskiyou is covered with sterile valleys and arid plateaus, there is still much good farming and grazing land within its limits, as well as a wide scope of valuable placers. Numerous promising quartz lodes have also been found in the western part of the county, some of which have been extensively and profitably worked. Without going into more details, the magnitude of these several interests is sufficiently indicated by the following statements: The value of the real and personal property in the county was last year estimated at $2,000,000; 50,000 acres of land were enclosed, and 20,000 under cultivation. The number of acres planted to wheat were 3,500, producing 70,000 bushels ; barley, 1,200 acres, producing 25,000 bushels; and of oats, 3,000 acres, producing 80,000 bushels.
There are at this time six quartz mills in the county, carrying forty stamps, erected at an aggregate cost of $60,000; eight grist mills, capable of grinding four hundred barrels of flour daily, and costing a total of $150,000; fifteen saw mills, with capacity to cut from two to four thousand feet of lumber, each, daily, built at an average expense of